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Shallit, Joseph – “Wonder Child” (1953)

06/18/2013

Finally, someone plays around with the stupid “special children” stories. A pushy psychologist talks a professional couple (the Crowleys) who are insistent that their days are full enough and they have no desire to have a kid until he convinces them that the difficult early years can be sped up via “the Maturator,” a device of his own design. You can figure out what it does, and when the baby turns out to be blond-haired and blue-eyed, you can figure out what he does.

Unlike Frankenstein’s unlearned moral of taking responsibility for your messes, nature is 100% ascendant over nurture here. The boy’s unnatural fast growth renders the parents pariahs within their gossipy suburban community, and it turns out dealing with an infant homo superior is harder than just doing it the old fashioned way. The relationship between the parents and the doctor sours after the latter makes it clear he doesn’t want any “bungling busybody” to ruin his “project,” at which point it is revealed that he has engineered the boy to be super-competitive:

Donnie is a boy of the future. He must be ready for the world as it will be when he’s older. Society is becoming more competitive year by year. You think things are hectic in the world today, but wait till another generation has passed.

After an episode of violence, the father finds the Doctor’s usefully-labeled (and accurate!) “Prospectus: The Child of the Future” and realizes that Year Six climaxes in the Maturated Child destroying his parents. He decides to poison the boy, but as he gets home and hears “his wife’s last despairing cry,” it’s too late – clearly we are all in for an increasingly hectic and competitive and inhumane world, etc.

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