Born of Man and Woman
|"Born of Man and Woman"|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction short story|
|Published in||The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction|
|Media type||Print (Magazine)|
"Born of Man and Woman" is a science fiction short story by American writer Richard Matheson, originally published in 1950 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was his first professional sale, written when he was twenty-two years old. It became the title piece in Matheson's first short story collection in 1954.
The story is written in the form of a "diary" in broken English kept by an apparently misshapen child, eight years old, who is kept chained in the basement by its parents, and frequently beaten. It is, however, able to pull its chain out of the wall and observe the outside world through the basement window. On one occasion it sneaks upstairs, although it has difficulty because its body drips green fluid that causes its feet to stick to the stairs. It eavesdrops on a dinner party, but is discovered by the parents, returned to the basement, and beaten. On another occasion it climbs to a small window and observes its young "normal" sister (who does not know of the child's existence) playing with other girls and boys. One of the boys spots the child, and it is again beaten. In a final incident, its sister comes into the basement with her cat, investigating the boy's sighting of the child. The child hides from them in the coal pile, but is forced to crush the cat to death when it smells the child and attacks.
The story ends with the child hitting a stick out of its father's hands and promising violence against its parents if they beat it further. It thinks about running along walls, and it is revealed it has more than one pair of legs, showing that it is extraordinarily different from a normal child.
Born of Man and Woman was among the stories selected in 1970 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the best science fiction short stories published before the creation of the Nebula Awards. As such, it was published in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.
- "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1954, p.95