Mimsy Were the Borogoves
|"Mimsy Were the Borogoves..."|
|Genre(s)||Science fiction short story|
|Published in||Astounding Science Fiction Magazine|
|Publisher||Astounding Science Fiction Magazine|
|Media type||Print (Periodical)|
|Publication date||February 1943|
"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" is a science fiction short story by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) that was originally published in the February 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine. It was judged by the Science Fiction Writers of America to be among the best science fiction stories written prior to 1965 and included in the anthology The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964. In 2007, it was loosely adapted into a feature-length film titled The Last Mimzy.
Millions of years in the distant future, a posthuman scientist experimenting with a technologically advanced time machine sends two boxes with hastily gathered batches of educational toys into the past. The first arrives in the middle of the twentieth century and the second in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Believing the experiment to be a failure when the machines and test objects fail to return, he discontinues his efforts to help save his highly, superhumanly evolved home world.
The first box of toys travels back to 1942, and is discovered by an eleven-year-old boy named Scott Paradine, who takes it home. The toys include a small transparent cube that visibly manifests the holder's thoughts; a wire maze puzzle employing a fourth dimension; and a detailed anatomical doll that possesses unfamiliar organs and structures. As Scott and his two-year-old younger sister, Emma, play with the toys, the brain activity of the two develops in unusual and superhuman ways.
Although their parents are often preoccupied with their own lives, they suspect supernatural anomalies going on with their children and become greatly worried. They consult with a child psychologist, Rex Holloway, who quickly recognizes the strangeness of the toys, and suspects them to be of extraterrestrial origin. Holloway surmises that the toys are "educating" the children and introducing an "X factor" into Scott's and Emma's thought processes on tremendously high superhuman levels. He believes their increasingly intellectual, knowledgeable, and developing young minds are pliable enough to be profoundly affected by the devices.
The toys rapidly guide the Paradine children to construct a pathway into the dimension where the highly intelligent and evolved superhuman beings of the future live. At Holloway's direction their parents take the toys away from them; but the children continue their efforts to help the future.
The second box arrives in nineteenth-century England, and is found by Alice Liddell, who one day recites some verse learned from one of its contents to Charles Dodgson, better known today as Lewis Carroll. Intrigued, he asks her its meaning; whereupon she, uncertain, identifies it as "the way out". Dodgson, in reply, promises to include it in his writings.
In 1942, Emma and Scott encounter Carroll's fantasy book Through the Looking-Glass, containing the poem "Jabberwocky". In its words they identify the missing element of a time-space equation enabling them to travel to the alien destination. (The unusual title of the short story is a phrase from the poem.) Their father arrives in the doorway of Scott's bedroom as the children vanish in a direction he could not understand at all.
- Astounding Science Fiction Magazine (listing), ISFDb, Feb 1943.