Hugo and Nebula award-winning Fritz Leiber is a science-fiction grand master with an unparalleled ability to discern the stranger side of the universe. The Green Millennium is set in a futuristic human society based on our own. The regimented, regulated and bureaucratized life style led by the misanthropic Phil Gish leaves him feeling vaguely dissatisfied and emotionally cut off from other people. He is surprised when a pure green cat appears in his room, a cat who makes him feel happier and more alive than he has ever felt. Phil decides to call the cat Lucky, hoping his life will take a turn for the better. If you consider different as change for the better, then Gish really has got something in Lucky ' something that everyone else wants ' including the Mob, the FBI, some nude aliens, and a gorgeous mystery woman. When Lucky seems to vanish into thin air, Phil will do anything to get him back, even if it means challenging the very powers that rule his world.
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June 01, 1983
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Excerpt from The Green Millennium by Fritz Leiber
Phil Gish woke up feeling as good as if all his previous life had happened to two other guys -- poor, miserable clunks!
Usually his whip-cracking reflexes had him out of bed in a flash and jerking on his shorts and sockasins while he frantically hunted around for the jar of beard-dissolving cream. But this time he was able to outsmart all tyrannous nerve-impulses and keep his eyes closed in order to enjoy the unprecedented sensation all to himself, not even sharing it with the advertisement-covered walls of his tiny bachelor apartment.
Why, it was simply wonderful, he decided after a bit. Outrageously, impossibly wonderful!
He actually felt as if this were not a world in which hot and cold wars had been gushing unpredictably for fifty years like temperamental faucets, in which the Federal Bureau of Loyalty and Fun Incorporated ruled the U.S.A. in the name of that drunken, hymn-singing farmer, President Robert T. Barnes, and in which (according to the Kremlin Newsmoon, located on an earth-circling satellite vehicle) a new plan was being considered for exchanging the descendants of prisoners taken in the half-century-old Korean War.
And as if he, Phil Gish, weren't a luck-forsaken little guy who on waking at eight o'clock this morning hadn't taken four sleeping pills in order to kill the day and temporarily forget that he had just lost another job to a robot who did it five times as fast and twice as accurately, and that he'd had a blow-up because of it and been coldly advised to see a psychiatrist.
He took a long, luxurious breath. Even the air smelt and felt different, as if dusted with some golden chemical that banished care.
He opened his eyes and looked down at his pale chest with the two lone hairs that were a sardonic last farewell from glorious jungle ape-hood. But this time the word that came to him was "slim," not "scrawny." He rather liked his body, he decided -- a neat and compact, if not exactly outsize, bit of tissue. He yawned, stretched, scratched where the two hairs were, and looked around. The green cat sat on the sill of the large open circular window, smiling at him.
"Hey, am I dreaming?"
The sound of his own voice, with its hint of a morning croak, answered that question.
Or have I really blasted off from behind the hair line? The second question, thought not spoken, was quickly suppressed. He felt too good to let it worry him. If this was insanity, then three cheers for paranoia!
Besides, there were all sorts of natural explanations of the cat's somewhat unconventional color. Just yesterday Phil had seen a young matron leading two rose-colored poodles. A flash of what might be an off-the-bosom dress under her cloak had moved him to pass close enough to hear her assure her companion, "They aren't dye-jobs, you mood-mad man. They're mutations!"
Also, weren't some animals naturally green, like the tree-sloth? Though he seemed to recall that the tree-sloth's hue was due to a fungus or mold, and there certainly wasn't any mold on the burnished bundle of benignity on his window sill.
"Hiya, Lucky," he greeted softly. From the very first he had decided to connect the cat with his newborn, incredible sense of well-being. If there was going to be a new era in his life, it was a good idea to have a symbol for it -- a symbol green as spring itself. Besides, it felt that way.