EXCERPT: Father of the Groom by Harry Turtledove

CATEGORY:  Unexpected Cryptozoological Ramifications

RULE 1226.9: Spoiled Brides Are No Match For Science

SOURCE:  Tesla Kidder, PhD, Parent and Inventor

VIA: Harry Turtledove

No matter who you are, planning a wedding is hard work. After all, it’s not easy bringing together two people with different lifestyles, grooming habits and hobbies. But at least the bride and groom are in love. The truly difficult process is the unification of their families. With all the tension between the parents and siblings, it’s amazing more weddings don’t end in funerals.

Our next piece is all about how hard it is to adjust to new in-laws. It’s expected for the bride’s and groom’s parents to struggle getting used to their new roles in their children’s lives. But for Professor Tesla Kidder, it’s not so much a challenge as an  . . .  experiment. And for a man who has devoted his life to the creation of bizarre inventions, experiments can be very dangerous things.

Here is a cautionary tale about pre-wedding jitters gone horribly awry. It might even be enough to make you appreciate your own father-in-law.


Father of the Groom
by Harry Turtledove

No, it isn’t Professor Tesla Kidder’s name that marks him as a mad scientist. It isn’t the ratty, chemical-spotted lab coat or the shock of uncombed gray hair or the gold-rimmed glasses or the electrically intense blue eyes behind those glasses. It isn’t even the fact that he has an assistant named Igor (who’d been in grad school at the University of Moscow when the Soviet Union imploded, and who’d split for greener pastures right afterwards).

No, indeed. It’s none of that. By his works shall you know him.

Consider, if you will, the stop light. Perhaps I should say, consider if you can. The stop light plunged an area with a radius of 1.378 miles around his Tarzana laboratory into darkness illimitable, absolute, and—it rapidly transpired—unrelieveable. That circle might be a black hole yet if the cheap AAA battery with which he powered his gadget hadn’t run out of juice after a couple of hours.

Or consider his room-temperature super conductor. Professor Kidder was convinced the world would beat a path to his door (now that it could see the way again). Better he should have stuck to mousetraps. No matter how super his conductor was, who needed the poor android in an age of automated trains?

Then again, you might—or, if horror disturbs you, you might not—want to contemplate his motion censor. It did just what it was designed to do, and froze the Ventura Freeway into utter immobility at morning rush hour. Once people noticed (which, given the usual state of the Ventura Freeway at morning rush hour, took some little while), an irate CHP officer pounded on his door and demanded that he turn the goddamn thing off. Traffic eventually resumed the uneven baritone of its ways.

I’m not even going to talk about his microcosmic green goddess. That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of sturgeon. And some things are better left to the imagination.

I will tell you that lately Professor Kidder has got more and more interested in DNA and genetic engineering. This worries you? Let me tell you something—it even worries Igor.

You might imagine that, with such splendors on his curriculum vitae, Tesla Kidder lives alone, cooking in Erlenmeyer flasks over a Bunsen burner. You might, but you would be mistaken. He is happily married to Kathy, a smashing blonde, and has been for lo these many years.

How? you ask. How? You, in fact, cry. Well, to put it as simply as possible, Kathy is a bit mad, too, or more than a bit. Proof? You want proof? She breeds Weimaraners for a living. What more proof do I need?

They have a son. He looks like Tesla Kidder, except his shock of uncombed hair is brown and he wears contact lenses instead of mad-scientist specs. His name is Archimedes. Some people would get a complex about that. Young Kidder just goes by Archie. He smiles a lot, too. He’s the most normal one in the whole family—not normal, mind you, but the most normal.

He majored in physics and minored in chemistry at UCLA. Maybe they’ll issue him those gold-rimmed glasses when he starts going gray. Or maybe not. He’s head over heels in love these days, not trying to cypher out the best way to turn the moon into a giant economy-sized bowl of guacamole for God’s next Super Bowl party.

His beloved is a smashing blonde named Kate. Like father, like son? Well, yes and no. For one thing, Kate is allergic to Weimaraners—and other dogs, and anything else with four legs and fur. For another, she’s about as far from mad as you can get. While Archie’s doing the research for his doctorate, she’s finishing her MBA.

But she sure said yes when he popped the question. The two-carat rock in the engagement ring he gave her didn’t hurt, no doubt. And if Archie didn’t explain that his father had synthesized it from two carrots, well, can you blame him? When the wind is southerly, he knows which side his bread is buttered on.

Kate and her folks (he does real estate; she’s an investment banker) immediately started planning the wedding. The German General Staff may have worked harder planning Hitler’s invasion of the Low Countries and France. Then again, they may not have. This was going to be The Way Kate Wanted It To Be.

Or else.

You might think such elaborate—even anal—preparations would put Professor Tesla Kidder’s wind up. Mad scientist, after all, is traditionally a (small-l, please) libertarian kind of job description. For the longest time, he just smiled and nodded and went along.

And why the hell not? All he was was the father of the groom.

[End Excerpt]