I'm looking for a short story I read sometimes ago, in which the hero receives by error a chemistry box, allowing him to create human duplicates. He wants to use it to create a double of the woman whom he is in love, but finally he misses and create a double of himself. A big ugly dark man comes to take back the box and finally the hero is replaced by his double who is stronger than him. If somebody can help me ? (and sorry for the english).

1 Answer 1


William Tenn's Child's Play

Child’s Play by William Tenn (Astounding, March 1947) opens in Mimsy Were the Borogoves territory when a struggling lawyer called Sam Weber accidentally gets a Christmas present from the future.

The rest of the story runs along the twin tracks of (a) Weber experimenting with the Bild-a-man set (he creates various malformed creatures which he eventually disassembles, and then a copy of a baby he is minding for the parents—which he eventually drops off at an orphanage); and (b) Weber watching as Tina goes out with Lew and eventually gets engaged. This latter event makes Weber decide to create a copy of Tina (who he convinces to scan herself in the office on the pretence of getting a wedding present for her), but he then makes a copy of himself first to make sure he has perfected the method.

The climactic scene (spoiler) sees the duplicate Weber wake up and destroy the dissassembleator. There is then some back and forth between the pair just before the strange old man arrives at Weber’s flat (Weber’s landlady mentioned earlier that the strange old man has been looking for him). The man reveals that he is the census keeper for the twenty ninth oblong, and explains why he took so long to arrive at Weber’s flat even though he knew that Weber had accidentally been sent the Bild-a-Man kit from the future (procedures, etc.). The old man then scans the two Webers and decides the most coherent personality (the Bild-a-Man kit is supposed to produce neurotic, unstable individuals) is the duplicate Weber and proceeds to disassemble the original.

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    Great - give me a checkmark if you'd like
    – Andrew
    Commented May 27 at 15:00
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    Please give him a checkmark. It is very helpful to all the other people who look, as well as giving Andrew recognition and reputation.....
    – Basya
    Commented May 27 at 15:09
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    i remembered Bild-a-Man but forget that it was sent from the future by accident, exactly what happens with the doctor's bag in The Little Black Bag story by Kornbluth, a more famous story written after this which inspired TV versions as well as a bit in Robocop and also sort of shares a universe with Idiocracy.
    – releseabe
    Commented May 27 at 15:28
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    @releseabe Actually "The Little Black Bag" is set in the same universe as "The Marching Morons", another story by Kornbluth. What's "Idiocracy", a movie?
    – user14111
    Commented May 27 at 16:04
  • @user14111: Yes, they do share very much the same universe. I know of no way to find out what "Idiocracy" is without Google, Wikipedia or IMDB.
    – releseabe
    Commented May 27 at 16:10

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