“Unwillingly to School” by Pauline Ashwell

I started this story three separate times. I have the original Astounding publication (from 1958), and the story’s also collected in a book called Unwillingly to Earth, which is ultimately where I read it. The voice is both strong and unusual, deliberately so, because Lizzie, our protagonist is an Individual (who capitalizes like one), and Ashwell uses the style to let us peek into Lizzie’s unusual brain.

The story’s Ashwell’s first published piece, and it got nominated for a Hugo in 1958. It’s charming, intriguing, funny and strong, and it makes me wish that all of these stories were shorter or my first anthology had 10 times the word count it’s going to have. Still, I have Ideas, as Lizzie would say. I only hope that I can make them come to fruition.

Look up the old Tor volume, Unwillingly to Earth, if you can. Ashwell truly is as good as her reputation implies.

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