In which we find out that the way to a woman’s heart lies through appliances.

OK, OK. Asimov did not like this story. He refused to stick it in his own anthologies (along with “The Portable Star”) because he thought so poorly of it. And one must admit that it’s a weak story—but it isn’t that bad. Compared, of course, to “The Mule” and “The Dead Past” it’s pretty awful, yes. But compared to real stinkers like “Half-Breeds on Venus” and “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” it’s almost tolerable.

(Of course, “Half-Breeds on Venus” was written when Asimov was rather young and green, and he may be forgiven. That doesn’t excuse “Rain, Rain, Go Away” or “Lest We Remember,” however.)

The problem here is that the story is simply flat, but not actively offensive. One is strongly tempted to bend the fair use provisions of the copyright laws and quote most of the story—it’s only two pages long—just to show people what it’s like, but it really isn’t worth the bother. A woman has three suitors, who each make a special promise to her in order to win her affection. One promises her money, another romance, and the man who wins promises her lots of household appliances.

That’s it. No sf gimmick, nothing. It has its literary precursors, of course, going back at least to the bet of the guards at the beginning of 1 Esdras in the Apocyrpha. It’s sexist and undeserving of its author, perhaps—but it really, honestly isn’t anywhere near his worst.

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