| || “Fool’s Errand” |
by Lester del Rey
First publication: Science Fiction Quarterly, Nov 1951
Roger Sidney, a 23rd-century professor of paraphysics, travels back to ask an aging Nostradamus whether he truly wrote those uncannily accurate predictions that were not found until 1989, but Sidney overshoots his target and ends up searching for a young Nostradamus in a tavern in southern France.
“Fool’s Errand” was the second story del Rey wrote after moving to New York in 1944 where he rented a $3/week room near Ninth Avenue and Fifty-Seventh Street, but Campbell rejected the story for Astounding as being too obvious. It was another seven years before Roger Sidney would find his way into the pages of Science Fiction Quarterly, one of the new spate of 1950s sf magazines.
If Nostradamus would accept the manuscript as being his, the controversy would be ended, and the paraphysicists could extend their mathematics with sureness that led on toward glorious, breathtaking possibilities. Somewhere, perhaps within a few feet, was the man who could settle the question conclusively, and somehow Sidney must find him—and soon!