Physicist Roger Toomey discovers he can levitate but cannot control or understand the phenomenon. Letting people be aware of his strange ability creates nothing but problems, until he finally decides that the way to handle the situation is to make it sombody else’s problem.
I don’t particularly care for this story, largely because I tend to squirm when reading or watching something where the protagonist is in a socially awkward situation—which is basically true of the first two-thirds of this story. The solution I think is very clever, but there’s a stylistic problem involved.
In the original version of the story, which can be found in The Alternate Asimovs, has the same beginning but an entirely different ending. In the original ending, Toomey is unable to find any way of handling his levitation and loses his job, his wife, and eventually his life, sad and alone. It’s a very depressing story, quite atypical of Asimov. John Campell hated it, and insisted that Asimov rewrite it to have an up-beat ending. The net result is, I believe, better than the original, but the up-beat ending is tacked onto the same depressing beginning the story always had, and the result is not entirely felicitous. And the depressing quality of the beginning does nothing to endear the story to me, either.
|Through a Glass, Clearly|
|The Winds of Change and Other Stories|
|The Alternate Asimovs|
|The Edge of Tomorrow|