SCI FICTION, November 24, 2005

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"Stu" by Bruce McAllister

In "Stu," Bruce McAllister gives us a lovely tale of friendship between a young boy as he grows up and a wild-haired scientist.  Brian’s dad and his friend, Stu Lundbergh, are Navy scientists working on top secret projects.  Stu has the ability to see the miraculous beauty in the things he creates for the military, even when his creations are put to destructive use.  He also has a habit of building things the Navy doesn’t want, things he shows to Brian and his younger brother. 

From writerly aspirations, Brian keeps in touch with a slowly-dying Stu as he grows up.  On his last visit, Stu asks him to write his memoir, and shows him a pair of devices which he claims have successfully made contact with alien spacecraft.  However, the Navy is opposed to his invention, and tells Stu not to use it because it will blind their pilots.  Is Stu crazy? This beautifully-written tale will make you want Brian to activate the machine and call the aliens down.

This is a fine story, with a sweetness of depth and charm.  It’s Bradbury meets Heinlein, and works very well.