Isaac  Asimov in 1965


(Petrovich, Russia) 1920 – New-York, April 1992)



Grotto – Part 4


Kaliinin hurried out.


Deznev looked after her with a grin:

– I’m glad she doesn’t seem to like Americans. It cuts out a hundred million potential competitors at least. Now if she also didn’t like Russians and would come to realize that I am as Karelo-Finnish as she is ...


– You Karelo-Finnish? – said Boranova, forced into a smile – Who  would believe that, you madman?


- She would , if she were in the proper mood.


- This would require an impossible mood.  – Boranova turned to Morrison – Please do not take Sophia’s behaviour personally, Dr Morrison. Many of our citizens pass through an ultra-patriotic phase, and feel it to be very Soviet to dislike Americans. It is more pose than reality. I’m sure, once we begin to work together as a team, that Sophia will let down her barriers.


– I understand completely. Things are similar in my country. As a matter of fact, at the moment, I’m not very fond of Soviets, and understandably, I think. But, – and he smiled – I could make an exception for Dr Kaliinin very easily.


Boranova shook her head:

– American like you, or Russian like Arkady: there is a peculiar masculine way of thought that transcends national boundaries and cultural differences.


Morrison was unmoved:

– Not that I will be working with her, or with anyone. I have grown tired of telling you, Dr Boranova, that I don’t accept the existence of miniaturization, and that I cannot and will not be of assistance to you in any way.


Deznev laughed:

– You know, one could almost believe Albert. He speaks so seriously.


Boranova said:

– Observe, Dr Morrison. This is Katinka.


She tapped a cage which Morrison, startled, now observed for the first time. Dr Kaliinin had rather absorbed his attention till now and even after she had left, he had been idly keeping his eye on the door through which she had gone, waiting for her reappearance.


He focused on the cage of wire mesh. Katinka was, apparently, a white rabbit of moderate size, looking placidly, who was munching away at greenery with the rapt concentration of her kind.


Morrison was aware of the slight scrabbling noise she made and of the rabbit odour, which he must have noted, unconsciously, earlier, and ignored.


He said:

– Yes, I see her.  A  rabbit.


– Not just a rabbit, doctor. She is a most unusual creature: unique. She has made history to a far greater extent than has the catalogue of war and disaster that usually is thought of by that name. If we exclude such purely incidental creatures as worms, fleas and submicroscopic parasites, Katinka is the first living creature that has been miniaturized. In fact, she has been miniaturized on three separate occasions, and would have been miniaturized dozens of times more if we had been able to afford it. She has contributed enormously to our knowledge of the miniaturization of life-forms and, as you can see, her experiences have in no way adversely affected her.


Morrison said:

– I do not wish to be insulting, but your bare statement that the rabbit has been miniaturized three times is not really evidence that this has indeed happened. I do not mean to cast doubt upon your integrity;  but, in a case like this, I think you understand that nothing less than witnessing the fact is sufficiently convincing.


– Certainly, and it is for that reason that – at considerable expense – Katinka will now be miniaturized a fourth time.


Isaac Asimov

From Fantastic Voyage



– To be followed –