Top Asimov Stories #3: “The Ugly Little Boy”
“The Ugly Little Boy,” much like “Nightfall,” is a very famous and well-anthologized story, and one that Asimov counted among his own favorites. It was published in Galaxy Science Fiction in September 1958 as “Lastborn,” and then anthologized in Nine Tomorrows in 1959 under the current title.
The story is about an experiment in time travel, in which a Neanderthal child is brought forward to our time, but must be kept in a single building which serves as a bridge between the two times. To bring him out would take enormous amounts of energy and would cause time paradoxes, so he must be kept there for study. To care for him the company hires a nanny, named Edith Fellowes. At first she is disgusted by the child (who she names Timmie), but eventually she comes to love him and treat him as her own.
However, the company that brought him to our time only sees him as an experiment and he is scheduled to be sent back to make way for another experiment. At first, Edith tries to smuggle Timmie out of the building, but is repulsed. In desperation, she returns to the past with the child.
The story was expanded into a full-length novel by Robert Silverberg in 1990.
- My Top Five Asimov Stories, In Detail (expandingconsciousness.wordpress.com)
- Top Asimov Stories #4: “Nightfall” (expandingconsciousness.wordpress.com)
- Top Asimov Stories #5: “The Evitable Conflict” (expandingconsciousness.wordpress.com)
- Isaac Asimov’s Five Best Short Stories (forbes.com)