“Defense Mechanism” by Katherine McLean

January 30, 2011

The Book: “Defense Mechanism” by Katherine MacLean. Originally published by Astounding Science Fiction in October 1949. Read in The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy published by Avon (G-1143) in 1962.

The Setting: Earth.

The Story: A man and his infant son share a psychic link and love bunny rabbits.

The Science: In this story, a man and his infant son share the ability to communicate telepathically and sense other minds around them. Despite its best efforts, science has not yet been able to make a good case for the existence of psychic communication between two human people.

The Reaction:The idea is interesting, but I felt the execution was a little messy. I had to read the end two or three times to really follow along. An attempt to give something of a feminist reading to this makes me glad to point out that the father is taking on a strong care-taker role in his infant son’s life. Perhaps progressive for 1949.

The Cover: Clearly not related to this story, the cover intrigues me with its wandering people, pointy bubbles and chaotic sky. Not my favorite, perhaps, but quite nice nonetheless.

Etc: The first female author I’ve encountered in this project. I look forward to reading more of her stories.

Next Up: “History Lesson” by Arthur C. Clarke



  1. […] The Cover: Same as before.  […]

  2. […] The Cover: Same as before. […]

  3. […] The Cover: Same as the first time. […]

  4. […] The Cover: Same as the first time. […]

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