Science fiction

Book Review: The Voice of the Dolphins, and Other Stories

The Voice of the Dolphins, and Other Stories
By Leo Szilard
Simon and Schuster, New York, 1961.

While working on the Manhattan Project, Leo Szilard claimed that he and his fellow Hungarian scientists were really extraterrestrials. Hungary, after all, was a small country in eastern Europe with a population of less than 10 million. How else to explain the great concentration of brilliant Hungarians in the field of physics? They are clearly extraterrestrials with an advanced knowledge of physics, far beyond that of earthlings. Without their help, we would not have been able to unlock the primal energies of the nucleus.

After reading this book, I’m convinced that he was telling the truth. And furthermore, that his species has not just great wisdom, but also the power to see into the future. In the anchor story of this collection, “The Voice of the Dolphins,” Dr. Szilard outlines in great detail the future history of the world from his vantage point in 1960. In doing so, he demonstrates astonishing prescience with the accuracy of his predictions. He does not fear to give dates to specific events, often nailing them down to within a year or two of when they actually happened. The discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the Martians’ abilities wane as they stay on our planet over a long period of time.

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What stands out about Szilard’s stories is his thoroughness in thinking through his topic, as well as their personal impact and prescience. Szilard was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb, only to see his dreams of a better world turn into an armaments standoff. He was so disgusted by the effects of his work in physics that he moved into biology after the War. Knowing these facts, we can appreciate how his conscience must have driven him to try and set us on a better course. We can also appreciate his frustration at seeing the dysfunctional politics of the world’s most powerful country (the Senate filibuster gets a mention). How is it that people could fiercely resist moves that will produce logical and obvious advancements for humanity?

Perhaps we need dolphins — or Martians — or at least Hungarians, to show us the way.

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