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Saturday, May 4, 2013

For the Betterment of Her Mind: To Serve Man by Damon Knight

Happy Saturday, everyone! I had originally scheduled to do a post about my recent sewing project, but we don't have batteries so I can't load any pictures into my computer just yet. Sorry about the wait! Hopefully I'll have it up soon, though.

For now, I thought we'd go back and revisit the For the Betterment of Her Mind Reading Challenge. I'm embarrassed to say I've been making my way very slowly through the list. Reading time has been scarce lately, which is sad and something I need to fix. I have, however, completed the short story To Serve Man by Damon Knight.

To Serve Man, depicted in an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Just a few notes before getting into the good stuff! As To Serve Man is a short story, it may be relatively hard to find. I ended up getting The Best of Damon Knight with an introduction by Barry N. Malzberg on inter-library loan. Also, in my original post about this challenge I had this title listed as 'How to Serve Man' by George Orwell. That turned out to be misinformation, and our lovely librarian was able to figure out that I had meant Damon Knight. Thank heaven for librarians! :)

To Serve Man tells the story of United Nations employees, as they try to work with aliens. These pig-like beings, who appear to be friendly, promise great things for the world as a whole. After impressing UN members with their 'lie detector', they soon set up facilities to destroy disease, rid the world of air pollution, and make humans grow larger. Though some question the intent of the aliens, the 'ambassadors' assure the world that they are simply a caring race, and making the world better gives them happiness. One UN employee is fascinated by their culture. He even goes so far as to steal one of their books to better learn their language, which leads to some startling discoveries.

To Serve Man is a short (mine was only four pages or so) read, perfect for days when you're current read is acting long and tedious and you need a quick fix. :) Coming from someone who has almost never read the sci-fi genre, I found this very interesting and fun. However, I'm not sure I'll be very interested in reading many of Damon Knight's other works. I read a couple others from the collection, and each of them seemed a little more morbid than To Serve Man. His writing style didn't interest me enough to finish the collection, but I'm so happy to have had this introduction to sci-fi! Definitely something I'll need to read more of in the future. :)

Right now I'm in the middle of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, so I'll (hopefully!) be back soon with another of these posts! I'm going to finish this challenge, even if it takes me longer than expected! :)

**Spoiler alert! Read below with caution!**

Damon Knight
For those who've read it: what was your opinion of Damon Knight's writing style? Were you surprised at the ending, or were you expecting something of the sort? I loved how the aliens were basically 'fattening up' and trying to get the humans healthy right in broad day light, but it never occurred to anyone that that's what they were doing! What was your opinion?

Your Thoughts?: Ever read To Serve Man, or any of Damon Knight's other stories? Ever read (or are interested in reading) the other titles in this challenge?

Thanks for reading! :)

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