A Class A Galactic Service agent is on Mars on a layover—and his faithful wife is not with him. Anxious though he is to while away the evening with an old acquaintance, he finds himself stuck in a room with three major industrialists—two are drugged, and one is faking it. His future depends on his figuring out which is the fake.
This is a hilarious story, absolutely delightful. Asimov has a lot of fun here, with Max, with his “friend” Flora, and with the drug-induced mental meanderings of the industrialists. Max’s increasing frustration over the course of the story is vividly portrayed.
Not really a dirty story, it definitely has an erotic tinge (Max figures out which man isn’t drugged by describing Flora to them so vividly that he gets an erection)—Asimov was pretty tame about his description in the original story but was forced to edit it out of the version which appeared in Nine Tomorrows anyway. Did Asimov himself not explain why, future scholars would be able to write doctoral dissertations on the text of “I’m in Marsport Without Hilda.’ Alas, however, he does tell us, so all those future graduate students will have to come up with other topics.
(The change is extremely trivial, too. Interested readers are referred to Nine Tomorrows and The Complete Stories, Volume One, which contain the bowdlerized version, and Asimov’s Mysteries which contains the original version. Try to figure out for yourself why the phrase “ribald stories” had to be changed to “about a girl” to avoid being too smutty. Interested readers are referred to the books in question anyway.)
|The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov|
|Complete Stories, The, Vol. 1|