Charles van Doren and Science Fiction

Julie and I talked about the movie Quiz Show in our last Good Story podcast, and I brought up how Charles van Doren was connected to Thomas Merton and Mortimer Adler. What I did not know was that Charles van Doren published a science fiction short story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The story is called “S R”, and is about a man whose palm has been tattooed with the letters S and R as part of the punishment for a crime that is never explained. The man tries and fails to rejoin society, because folks shun people with this tattoo by doing things like refusing to hire them. The man reaches a breaking point and takes desperate measures to remove the mark from his body, only to find that in the hospital the authorities just mark him again in a different location. It’s a good story with a 1984 feel to it.

The story was published in the July 1957 issue. His run on the quiz show “21” ended on March 11, 1957, and his testimony before Congress took place in 1959.

According to ISFDB, this was van Doren’s only published science fiction story, and that story’s only appearance is in this issue of FSF.

Thanks for the find, Jesse!

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