“Pygmalion’s Spectacles” is a 1935 science fiction short story by Stanley G. Weinbaum. It is about a man who tries out a very early form of 3-D virtual reality… and likes it!
Yeah, 1935. That is when Stanley Weinbaum wrote this story. Nineteen freaking thirty five – that was 77 years ago! I think that is quite a testament to the imagination and foresight shown by this author. Well done sir… well done indeed!
Dan Burke meets a strange, gnome-like man while in New York’s Central Park. The man tells Dan about how hard it can be to differentiate between dreams and real life, and then invites Dan to test out a new invention to prove the point. What is this amazing invention you may wonder? Well, it is a type of mask that plunges the wearer into a vivid virtual movie where all one’s senses can be engaged! Nifty huh? Dan tries it out, and guess what? It is pretty convincing – so convincing in fact that even Dan has trouble telling what is real and what is not. That’s too bad, because he meets some pretty amazing people while wearing the spectacles!
Some Interesting Tidbits
- Word count: 7,041 (15 pages)
- Did you know that Stanley G. Weinbaum’s publishing career only lasted for 18 months? Yep. Learn more about this fantastic science fiction author at Wikipedia.
- Special thanks to Variety SF for pointing out this fine story.
- You might enjoy this story more if you are familiar with the myth of Pygmalion.
Where To Find Pygmalion’s Spectacles
- This short story was first published in the June 1935 edition of Wonder Stories.
- You can read or download “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” for free at the wonderful Project Gutenberg.
- “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” is also included in the anthology A Martian Odyssey: Stanley G. Weinbaum’s Worlds of If.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you liked “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” then you might also enjoy “Galatea’s Stepchildren” by Sam S. Kepfield – about a female robot who is hired as a secretary by a nice, educated man – and all the things she learns from him.