I'm looking for the title & author of an old classic sci-fi short story or novella I read about 50 years ago (story written in the 1940s, 50s, or 60s?) where the protagonist (cop?) is pursuing the dangerous antagonist (criminal? villain?) who has hypnotic power. The cop is protected by his glasses and at the end of the story it's revealed that the glasses get accidentally dislodged as the cop goes through a beaded curtain, rendering him vulnerable to the awaiting criminal?

Google & ChatGPT 3.5 have given me wrong answers with regards to Alfred Bester, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Henry Kuttner, and A.E. Vogt (I thought that Vogt may have been the correct author, but haven't found a corresponding story). I most likely read this story in an old anthology.

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    It's not Daymare by Fredric Brown, but that story is extremely similar and you'd probably enjoy it.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 1 at 23:07
  • Just the one I was going to check out to see if it was right.
    – Andrew
    Commented May 1 at 23:26
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    In Daymare the protective googles do get jammed near the end of the story, and the hero defeats the villain without use of the protection (through sheer awesomeness).
    – Andrew
    Commented May 1 at 23:55
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    +1000, @user14111, for "I didn't think ChatGPT ever got anything right"!
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 2 at 14:11
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    "Vintage Season" by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore was suggested by ChatGPT3.5. Although I knew it wasn't the correct answer, the time travel aspect of "Vintage Season" left me with a lingering impression I couldn't quite shake (not unlike James Kelvin in "Happy Ending?") :-) Upon re-reading "Happy Ending," the time travel & reverse chronology aspects I immediately recognized as the story I had read as a boy. Very "Memento"-like! The red hardcover "Beyond Tomorrow" anthology was indeed the book I borrowed from the Brooklyn Public Library long ago. Thank you everyone for the edit & suggestions! Commented May 4 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


"Happy Ending", a novelette by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, first published (as by Henry Kuttner alone) in Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1948, available at the Internet Archive; the story is also available at Project Gutenberg. You may have read it in one of these compilations. This story was also the answer to the old questions SF story with reversed chronology and An old short story: man goes into a fortune-teller's tent, glasses knocked off.

The protagonist is a future-man pursuing his runaway robot who has fled into the past.

"Don't forget the spectacles," Tharn said.

Quarra Vee put them on. "Ugh. But I suppose—"

"It'll be safer. The optical properties in the lenses are a guard you may need against dangerous mental radiations. Don't take them off, or the robot may try some tricks."

"He'd better not," Quarra Vee said. "That so-and-so runaway robot! What's he up to, anyway, I wonder? He always was a malcontent, but at least he knew his place. I'm sorry I ever had him made. No telling what he'll do, loose in a semi-prehistoric world, if we don't catch him and bring him home."

He's in that horomancy booth," Tharn said, leaning out of the time-warp. "Just arrived. You'll have to catch him by surprise. And you'll need your wits about you, too. Try not to go off into any more of those deep-thought compulsions you've been having. They could be dangerous. That robot will use some of his tricks if he gets the chance. I don't know what powers he's developed by himself, but I do know he's an expert at hypnosis and memory erasure already. If you aren't careful he'll snap your memory-track and substitute a false brain-pattern. Keep those glasses on. If anything should go wrong, I'll use the rehabilitation ray on you, eh?" And he held up a small rod-like projector.

Quarra Vee nodded.

"Don't worry. I'll be back before you know it. I have an appointment with that Sirian to finish our game this evening."

It was an appointment he never kept.

Quarra Vee stepped out of the temporal warp and strolled along the boardwalk toward the booth. The clothing he wore felt tight, uncomfortable, rough. He wriggled a little in it. The booth stood before him now, with its painted sign.

He pushed aside the canvas curtain and something—a carelessly hung rope—swung down at his face, knocking the horn-rimmed glasses askew. Simultaneously a vivid bluish light blazed into his unprotected eyes. He felt a curious, sharp sensation of disorientation, a shifting motion that almost instantly was gone.

The robot said, "You are James Kelvin."

  • Well done! I knew I had read it, and I thought it might be Kuttner so I looked in Bypass to Otherness and Return to Otherness without luck. I don't own Detour to Otherness where it does appear. I can't figure out where I read it, though. I don't think I have read anything the ISFB lists. Well, off to abebooks to try and find one of those collections. Commented May 2 at 1:19

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