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Astounding Unman.jpg
Author Poul Anderson
Country United States
Language English
Series The Psychotechnic League
Genre(s) science fiction
Published in Astounding Science Fiction
Publisher Street & Smith
Media type Magazine
Publication date January 1953
Preceded by "Marius"
Followed by "The Sensitive Man"

"Un-Man" is a science fiction novella by American writer Poul Anderson, first published in the January 1953 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. It was included in the 1962 collection Un-Man and Other Novellas, and the 1981 collection The Psychotechnic League. As a component of the Psychotechnic League future history, "Un-Man" takes place in the year 2004, between "Marius" and "The Sensitive Man".

Plot summary[edit]

Robert Naysmith is a member of the United Nations Inspectorate, an international police force that neutralizes threats to world peace. He is also a member of the Rostomily Brotherhood, a secret order within the Inspectorate made up of men cloned from Stefan Rostomily, a member of the French resistance during World War III.

Naysmith is ordered to carry on the assignment of Martin Donner, another member of the Brotherhood who was killed while investigating an anti-UN conspiracy. Atypically for a Brother, Donner had a wife and child, and Naysmith's first task is to impersonate Donner long enough to persuade his family to go into hiding with him. Naysmith leaves Donner's wife and son in an isolated cabin in the Canadian Rockies. He then kidnaps and drugs a member of the conspiracy, learning that he has been assigned to assassinate Barney Rosenberg, a Martian colonist who is returning to Earth to retire. Naysmith teams up with a Finnish Brother named Juho Lampi to rescue Rosenberg, and learns that he was a close friend of the original Rostomily.

After leaving Rosenberg with the Donners, Naysmith and his partner arrange to be captured by the conspiracy. They are brought to the secret sea base of Arnold Besser, UN Minister of International Finance and the leader of the conspiracy. They find themselves joined by two more captive Brothers, along with Besser himself. Before Besser can begin torturing Naysmith and the others, the secret base is attacked by UN police, and Besser's bodyguard (actually another Brother, surgically altered to look like Besser's bodyguard) kills Besser and frees the others. Following the raid, the information found in Besser's secret base allows the UN to roll up the conspiracy. Donner's wife tracks down Naysmith and asks him to marry her.


In 2003, "Un-Man" was nominated for the 1954 Retro-Hugo Award for Best Novella.[1] Locus's Rich Horton called it "interesting";[2] however, Evelyn Leeper found it "fairly basic" and "much less appealing and more strident than [Anderson's] non-political [writing]", while noting that the title is a pun ("un-" is both a privative — referring to Naysmith being a clone — and a reference to the UN).[3]


  1. ^ 1954 Retro-Hugo Awards, at TheHugoAwards.org; retrieved April 12, 2017
  2. ^ The Best Science Fiction of 1953: A Look a Potential Retro Hugos, by Rich Horton, in Locus, published February 20, 2004; retrieved April 12, 2017
  3. ^ This Week's Reading: Un-Man, by Evelyn Leeper, originally published in MT VOID, July 2, 20024; retrieved April 12, 2017

External links[edit]