Time Pussy

Last updated
"Time Pussy"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction
Published in Astounding Science Fiction
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Street & Smith
Media typePrint (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
Publication dateApril 1942

"Time Pussy" is an early science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov.

Science fiction genre of fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas".

Short story Brief work of literature, usually written in narrative prose

A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a "single effect" or mood, however there are many exceptions to this.

Isaac Asimov American science-fiction and non-fiction writer

Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.



"Time Pussy" was the third of three stories Asimov wrote for John W. Campbell for a new category of science fiction tall tales in Astounding Science Fiction called "Probability Zero". Campbell rejected the first two stories, "Big Game" and "First Law", but reluctantly accepted "Time Pussy". Campbell wanted to run the story under a pseudonym, since he wanted to encourage new writers to write "Probability Zero" stories. Asimov chose the name George E. Dale. The story appeared in the April 1942 issue of Astounding and was reprinted under Asimov's name in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov . [1]

John W. Campbell American science fiction writer and editor

John Wood Campbell Jr. was an American science fiction writer and editor. He was editor of Astounding Science Fiction from late 1937 until his death and was part of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Campbell wrote super-science space opera under his own name and stories under his primary pseudonym, Don A. Stuart. Campbell also used the pen names Karl Van Kampen and Arthur McCann. His novella Who Goes There? was adapted as the films The Thing from Another World (1951), The Thing (1982), and The Thing (2011).

Tall tale story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual

A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual. Some stories such as these are exaggerations of actual events, for example fish stories such as, "That fish was so big, why I tell ya', it nearly sank the boat when I pulled it in!" Other tall tales are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the European countryside, the American frontier, the Canadian Northwest, or the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Big Game is a short story by the American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. He wrote it in November 1941 when he was 21, failed to sell it to any magazine, and eventually lost the manuscript. When in 1972 Asimov compiled a collection of his earliest stories, The Early Asimov, he listed "Big Game" as the last of eleven stories which he had failed to publish anywhere and which he thought were lost forever. However a fan of his, Matthew B. Tepper, discovered the missing manuscript in a collection of Asimov's old papers which were archived in the library of Boston University and sent it to him. Asimov included it in an anthology he was editing at the time, Before the Golden Age (1974), although he pointed out that he had re-used the plot of the rejected story to write "Day of the Hunters" in 1950.

Plot summary

The unnamed narrator of "Time Pussy" relates a story he heard as a boy from Old Mac, who had been an asteroid prospector back during the "Rush of '37". Old Mac tells the narrator about some cat-like animals he knew on Pallas that existed in four dimensions: in addition to the usual spatial dimensions, the Pallan cats "stretched somewheres into middle o' next week" (and were thus living precursors of Asimov's fictional chemical compound thiotimoline). The "time pussies" would howl twenty-four hours before seeing a burglar, and digest their meals three hours before eating them. Old Mac tells how some scientists back on Earth were willing to pay a million dollars for the preserved remains of a time pussy, but the animals would decay too quickly after death to be useful. The miners finally came up with the idea of soaking a time pussy in water just before it died, then quickly freezing the water. However, the attempt to preserve the last time pussy failed, because the water froze so quickly it was still warm.

Asteroid minor planet that is not a comet

Asteroids are minor planets, especially of the inner Solar System. Larger asteroids have also been called planetoids. These terms have historically been applied to any astronomical object orbiting the Sun that did not resemble a planet-like disc and was not observed to have characteristics of an active comet such as a tail. As minor planets in the outer Solar System were discovered they were typically found to have volatile-rich surfaces similar to comets. As a result, they were often distinguished from objects found in the main asteroid belt. In this article, the term "asteroid" refers to the minor planets of the inner Solar System including those co-orbital with Jupiter.

2 Pallas large asteroid of the main asteroid belt

Pallas is the second asteroid to have been discovered, and is one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System. With an estimated 7% of the mass of the asteroid belt, it is the third-most-massive asteroid, being 10–30% less massive than Vesta. It is 512 kilometers (318 mi) in diameter, somewhat smaller than 4 Vesta. It is likely a remnant protoplanet.

Thiotimoline is a fictitious chemical compound conceived by American biochemist and science fiction author Isaac Asimov. It was first described in a spoof scientific paper titled "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" in 1948. The major peculiarity of the chemical is its "endochronicity": it starts dissolving before it makes contact with water.

Related Research Articles

Hal Clement American author

Harry Clement Stubbs, better known by the pen name Hal Clement, was an American science fiction writer and a leader of the hard science fiction subgenre. He also painted astronomically oriented artworks under the name George Richard.

"Blind Alley" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the March 1945 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, and later included in the collection The Early Asimov (1972).

<i>Nightfall</i> (Asimov novelette and novel) 1941 short story by Isaac Asimov

"Nightfall" is a 1941 science fiction novelette by American writer Isaac Asimov about the coming of darkness to the people of a planet ordinarily illuminated by sunlight at all times. It was adapted into a novel with Robert Silverberg in 1990. The short story has been included in 48 anthologies, and has appeared in six collections of Asimov's stories. In 1968, the Science Fiction Writers of America voted "Nightfall" the best science fiction short story written prior to the 1965 establishment of the Nebula Awards, and included it in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.

<i>Unknown</i> (magazine) US pulp fantasy magazine published from 1939 to 1943

Unknown was an American pulp fantasy fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1943 by Street & Smith, and edited by John W. Campbell. Unknown was a companion to Street & Smith's science fiction pulp, Astounding Science Fiction, which was also edited by Campbell at the time; many authors and illustrators contributed to both magazines. The leading fantasy magazine in the 1930s was Weird Tales, which focused on shock and horror. Campbell wanted to publish a fantasy magazine with more finesse and humor than Weird Tales, and put his plans into action when Eric Frank Russell sent him the manuscript of his novel Sinister Barrier, about aliens who own the human race. Unknown's first issue appeared in March 1939; in addition to Sinister Barrier, it included H. L. Gold's "Trouble With Water", a humorous fantasy about a New Yorker who meets a water gnome. Gold's story was the first of many in Unknown to combine commonplace reality with the fantastic.

The Red Queen's Race is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov; it uses the Red Queen's race from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass as a metaphor for the final plot twist. The story also makes reference to Asimov's psychohistory. "The Red Queen's Race" was first published in the January 1949 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov.

<i>The Early Asimov</i> anthology by Isaac Asimov

The Early Asimov or, Eleven Years of Trying is a 1972 collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. Each story is accompanied by commentary by the author, who gives details about his life and his literary achievements in the period in which he wrote the story, effectively amounting to a sort of autobiography for the years 1938 to 1949.

The first Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the "pulp era" of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are a transitional period in this scheme; however, Robert Silverberg, who came of age in the 1950s, saw that decade as the true Golden Age.

First Law short story

"First Law" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov, first published in the October 1956 issue of Fantastic Universe magazine and later collected in The Rest of the Robots (1964) and The Complete Robot (1982). The title of the story is a reference to the first of the Three Laws of Robotics.

Pâté de Foie Gras is a 1956 science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov, originally published by Astounding Science Fiction.

"Trends" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the July 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and was reprinted in Great Science Fiction Stories About the Moon (1967) and The Early Asimov (1972).

"History" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the March 1941 issue of Super Science Stories and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov.

"Homo Sol" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the September 1940 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov. It deals with the proposed acceptance into a galactic federation of hominid civilizations of the hominids of newly discovered Earth.

"The Imaginary" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the November 1942 issue of Super Science Stories and was reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov. Following the sale of "Half-Breeds on Venus", which was a sequel to "Half-Breed", Asimov suggested to Astounding Science Fiction editor John W. Campbell that he write a sequel to the story "Homo Sol". Campbell was unenthusiastic, but agreed. Since "The Imaginary" lacked the human-alien conflict that he had liked in the earlier story, Campbell ultimately rejected it. "The Imaginary" was the twenty-first story written by Asimov, and the twenty-ninth to be published. Due to the peculiar workings of the science fiction magazine publishing industry, "The Imaginary" appeared a month after the third story in the Homo Sol Trilogy, "The Hazing".

"Half-Breed" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the February 1940 issue of Astonishing Stories and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov. It was the fifteenth story written by Asimov, and the fourth to be published. At 9000 words, it was his longest published story to date.

<i>Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology</i> book by Harry Harrison

Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology is a 1973 anthology honoring American science fiction and fantasy editor John W. Campbell, in the form of an anthology of short stories by various science fiction authors, edited by Harry Harrison. It was first published in hardcover by Random House as a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club, and first published in paperback by Ballantine Books.

<i>Analog Science Fiction and Fact</i> US science fiction magazine

Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science-fiction magazine published under various titles since 1930. Originally titled Astounding Stories of Super-Science, the first issue was dated January 1930, published by William Clayton, and edited by Harry Bates. Clayton went bankrupt in 1933 and the magazine was sold to Street & Smith. The new editor was F. Orlin Tremaine, who soon made Astounding the leading magazine in the nascent pulp science fiction field, publishing well-regarded stories such as Jack Williamson's Legion of Space and John W. Campbell's "Twilight". At the end of 1937, Campbell took over editorial duties under Tremaine's supervision, and the following year Tremaine was let go, giving Campbell more independence. Over the next few years Campbell published many stories that became classics in the field, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, A.E. van Vogt's Slan, and several novels and stories by Robert A. Heinlein. The period beginning with Campbell's editorship is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

"Rule 18" is a 1938 science fiction novelette by American writer Clifford D. Simak, credited as launching Simak's career and helping inspire the writing style of Isaac Asimov. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2014.


  1. Asimov, Isaac (1972). The early Asimov; or, Eleven years of trying. Garden City NY: Doubleday. pp. 383–397.

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) is a database of bibliographic information on genres considered speculative fiction, including science fiction and related genres such as fantasy fiction and horror fiction. The ISFDB is a volunteer effort, with both the database and wiki being open for editing and user contributions. The ISFDB database and code are available under Creative Commons licensing and there is support within both Wikipedia and ISFDB for interlinking. The data are reused by other organizations, such as Freebase, under the creative commons license.