16

There's a short story I once read in my youth, about 25 years ago, which I'm now trying to find again, but whose title or author I can't remember, so I was hoping someone here could help me with that.

The elements that I rather distinctly do remember (or believe to, at least) are the following:

  • The protagonist is a man who is somehow handicapped (mentally or physically, I don't remember which)
  • On the other hand, he has the unique ability to not simply foresee the future, but actually choose it (it's described as if an unnamed and unidentified 'higher power' was somehow showing him pictures in his mind of a limited number of distinct possible futures, and whichever one he picks comes to pass, more or less immediately)
  • It all ends badly though, as the people around him become suspicious of his ability, and he somehow falls into the hands of a lynch mob
  • As he is about to die at the hands of the mob, his power doesn't really help him, as it doesn't offer any options which would save him; instead, all the choices he gets at that time are various end-of-the world scenarios, and with some grim satisfaction he finally ends up choosing one where the sun goes supernova (if I remember correctly)

Does this ring a bell for anyone?

17

That is probably "Judgement Day" (1958) by Lloyd Biggle. In the story the protagonist is in prison, sentenced to death, but is unafraid since he can choose a future where he does not have to die. However after his execution has failed multiple times a mob gathers to lynch him and he suddenly finds that there is no future to select in which he will survive. So he selects a future where he can at least take the mob with him (and everybody else) and the sun goes nova.

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