THEODORE STURGEON “The Ultimate Egoist.” Short story. First published in Unknown, February 1941. Collected in Without Sorcery (Prime Press, hardcover, 1949) and The Golden Helix (Dell, paperback, 1980; Carroll & Graf, paperback, 1989), among others. Reprinted in Human?, edited by Judith Merrill (Lion #205, paperback, 1954).

   I suppose everyone, at one time or another, has had the following fantasy: that the world you see, and the objects in it, could disappear if you simply decided that they no longer existed. That the facade of life revolves around you and you only. You don’t even have to admit it. I know you have.

   And such is the basis of this early story by master SF author Theodore Sturgeon. I think his work in the short story form was almost uniformly superb; in fact I think most of his readers would agree that his short fiction was a step above the relatively few novels he wrote in his lifetime (1918-1985). The only question is, from this basic premise, where does he go from here? The answer, the only way it could.

   I think this story is a small gem, not a perfect one — later in his writing career, Sturgeon would have polished it up to even better effect — but even as is, it’s clever, alive, and a lot of fun to read. What more could you ask from a short tale that’s not far from everyone’s dreams?