The Gnu Mutation (Feghoot XXXVIII)

By Reginald Bretnor writing as Grendel Briarton, with thanks given to J.C. Owens.

On July 4th, 2007, Ferdinand Feghoot addressed the D.A.R.’s National Convention, hastily substituting for Robert A. Heinlein, who had been delayed on the Moon. Not knowing that his audience expected a more appropriate theme, he spoke on the many new nations of Africa.

“And in conclusion,” he finally remarked, “I must mention the fascinating Republic of Gnus. We all know how, after the African bomb tests, the intelligence of the gnus suddenly rose to the human level, and how they organized and were admitted to the U.N. We know about their already great contributions to speculative philosophy and the arts of government. But few of us are aware of their tragedy — for the gnus soon learned that they have no aesthetic sense whatsoever. This made them feel deeply inferior. After years of searching, they shouted with joy when a young male showed signs of a singular genius for arranging glazed ceramic squares in pleasing patterns which were then made permanent with cement. The called me to examine this prodigy, and I gave him every imaginable test. But he was not truly talented. It was sadly indeed that I rendered my verdict –”

At this point, the President General leaned over to say the he should at least end his speech patriotically. “A simple slogan will suffice, dear Mr. Feghoot,” she whispered.

“–Typical gnu and tiler too!” shouted Ferdinand Feghoot.

(Copyright © 1961 by Mercury Press. First published in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, April 1961).

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