“Vintage Season” by Lawrence O’Donnell

Lawrence O’Donnell is one of the many pen names that C.L. Moore used when she collaborated with her husband, Henry Kuttner. Credit for this story has often gone entirely to Moore, but no one knows for sure how much Kuttner had to do with it. They did choose to publish the story initially under a joint byline. However, I read the story in The Best of C.L. Moore, edited by Lester del Rey, which is included under Moore’s byline alone. Since she wrote the afterword and doesn’t mention her collaboration with Kuttner except vaguely, she seems to suggest the story is hers alone.

In addition to the story being too long for me to use, the confusion over the byline and authorship mean I will leave it out. I need ways to cull the works I’m reading into possibles and much as I liked the story (Okay, full honesty here, I loved it), I needed a justification for leaving it out.

Moore says this might be the first time-travel story about people who go to see historical events as vacations. Robert Silverberg, in an essay on the piece, says the same thing. I have no idea if that’s accurate, but it feels right.

The story feels quite modern, even though it’s over seventy years old. It’s beautifully done, set in an unnamed future in an unnamed city, but it feels like the past. Oliver, the main character, is a bit hapless and passive, but that works for the story, and for what the story holds, in its ending.

Another classic of the field, deservedly so. But it’s been reprinted many times, most recently (as far as I can tell), in 2006 in a collection of Kuttner and Moore’s works. You can find the story, and if you’re a time travel fan or a classic sf fan, I suggest that you do.

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