Circus dwarf Little Tom Little is the king of midgets, loved by crowds and carnival folk alike. Only he doesn't just want to be a bigger circus star, he wants to be just like the circus' tall and imposing leader.
Trouble begins the moment that a set of ancient books containing the secret of switching bodies finds its way into Tom Little's tiny hands. When he magically trades his small frame with that of the circus chief, he finds himself in a giant-sized heap of trouble-- his craving for height has landed him smack in the center ring surrounded by forty savage cats!
Hubbard's 1940 fantasy tale centers on a circus dwarf named Little Tom Little who becomes obsessed with the idea of swapping bodies with the circus's larger-than-life chief. This fantastic production features a large supporting cast of readers, sound effects and a variety of brilliant voices provided by The Simpsons' Nancy Cartwright. The only downside is that Little Tom Little bears a striking resemblance to Bart Simpson, so much so that the entire story is jeopardized because audiences will be hard pressed not to see a Simpsons episode playing out in their minds. As talented as Cartwright is, especially in voicing child characters, one would have expected her to come up with a more original voice. A Galaxy Press paperback.(Sept.)
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Galaxy Press, LLC
September 06, 2008
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Excerpt from If I Were You by L. Ron Hubbard
Fittingly, it was a dark and blustery night when the Professor died. The summer storm had come yelling in from a scorching afternoon to tear at canvas and yank out stakes and stab bright fury at the big top. The rain bucketed down with a shock of coldness and then settled to a ceaseless cannonading which, after seven hours, had turned the lot into a swamp so tenacious that not even the rubber mules could budge the wagons. Banners wept from their staffs; lot lice shivered in scant cover; somewhere a big cat, excited by the tropical aspect of the storm, moaned and paced in his cage.
And although a waxen yellowness was already upon his face and his skin was falling away from his bones, the Professor managed an evil smile. He was waiting, hanging on and waiting. For he had sent half an hour since for Little Tom Little, king of the midgets. And as he waited, his thoughts roamed over the past, the better to savor what he was about to do.
The Professor was the gypsy camp's bird of bad omen. Whence he had come, no man knew, but with him had come a chain of disaster. Tall and bony, he had always been more a cadaver than a man; his scummed eyes hid behind thick, dark lids; his hands seemed always ready to throttle a victim; his black hair was matted about his face, just as his clothes were matted about his form.
He had come as a mitt reader. Mrs. Johnson had not wanted to take him but, boss of the show though she was, she had not been able to refuse him. Hermann Schmidt, ringmaster and governor de facto, powerful figure though he was, had been unable to resist the eerie command of those eyes. And the man had become "The Professor" to the gypsy camp, and Yogi Matto to the chumps.
There had been uneasy speculation about him for weeks, for the breaks had been many--and all bad. But men were afraid of him and said nothing. As though finding flavor in his tidings, he had accurately forecast each and every disaster, even to this storm which had kept the crowds away tonight. And, weirdly, he had forecast, again with relish, his own death.
Some had said he was a Russian, but then a Hindu had come out of the crowd and the two had spoken in the Hindu's tongue. And when they had dubbed him as being from India, they found that he spoke Chinese and Turkish as well. A razorback had once seen the insides of his trunks and had pronounced their heaviness occasioned by fully a hundred books of ancient aspect, filled with mysterious signs and incantations.
That the Professor did possess some remarkable power was apparent to all. For no matter how much anger might be vented against him for driving clients into hysteria with his evil forebodings of their future and thus hurting the show, no man had ever been able to approach those eyes.
No man, that is, but Little Tom Little.
Just how this was, even the Professor could not tell. But from the first, Little Tom Little, an ace at the heartless art of mimicry, had found humor in the Professor and had won laughter by mocking him. The matter had developed into nearly an open feud, but Little Tom Little, inwardly caring desperately what the world thought of him, but outwardly a swaggering satirist, had continued merrily.
The mockery always went well with the crowd, just as the Professor did not. Little Tom Little, in the sideshow, would get the crowd after the Professor was done and, very cunningly, would tell their fortunes in a doleful voice which made the tent billow from the resulting laughter. These crowds, sensing evil, had not liked to believe what the Professor had said.
And the gypsy camp had laughed with Little Tom Little, even though no man but he dared to affront the Professor.
The Professor had not forgotten his powerlessness to turn aside those quips. He had not forgotten that a man just thirty inches tall had held him up to ridicule for months. He had said nothing.
But he was dying now. And he was glad to die, secure as he was in a knowledge of the glories which awaited him elsewhere. In dying he would find himself at last. But he could not forget Little Tom Little. No! He would remember Little Tom Little with a legacy. He had already made out the paper.
Someone was coming up the aisle of the car, and then the doorknob rattled and Little Tom Little entered the stateroom. Water ran from his tiny poncho as he took it off.
The Professor moved a little on his pillow so that he could see his visitor, whose head was just above the height of the bunk.
Little Tom Little's handsome self, usually so gay, was now steeped in seriousness. He felt that he ought to feel highly sympathetic, and yet he could not understand exactly why, out of the whole crew, he had been sent for at this moment--for the physician outside had told him that the Professor could not last long. He was repelled, as always, by those filmed eyes, for Little Tom was not a brave man, for all his front. He waited for the Professor to speak.
"You are wondering," said the Professor, "why I have sent for you." His voice was very low and Little Tom had to put his ear close to the evil-smelling lips. "In your mind," said the Professor, "you are turning over the reasons for this. I must put you at ease, for I have always respected you."
Little Tom was startled.
"Yes," said the Professor, "I have seen much to admire in you. On the lot about me, men are afraid. They spread away from me when I approach. But you . . . you were brave, Tom Little. You did not cower away. You had steel enough in you not only to meet me and speak to me, but you also had courage enough to risk my wrath--a thing which all other men feared."
Little Tom had not considered that his mockery required so much nerve.
"It was not courage," he protested, trying to say something decent to a dying man. "You just imagined--"
"No, I did not imagine. Men slink from me for a peculiar reason, Little Tom. They slink from me because I impel them. Yes, that is the truth. I force them away. I want nothing to do with men, for I loathe all mankind. I impelled them, Little Tom Little. Long before now you must have realized that I command strange and subtle arts beyond the understanding of these foolish and material slaves of their own desires."
Whatever Little Tom Little had expected to hear from a dying man, this certainly was far from it. In common with everyone, he had suspected these things, but he had been urged to derision instead of terror, not through understanding, but by nature.
"By such command," continued the Professor, "I am now able to leave this world for one far better, knowing exactly where I am going. But behind me I shall leave a little more than a corpse. I have a few things here--"
"Oh, you're not going to die!" said Little Tom Little.
"If I believed that, I should be very sad," replied the Professor. "But to return to why I brought you here; you must know that I was unable to make any impression upon you."
"Well . . . I never felt any."
"That is it," said the Professor. "I cannot touch you. And that means that you have it subconsciously in your power to handle and control all phases of the black arts."
"You. And I appreciate this. I respect you for it. I have a generous heart, Little Tom, for I am a learned man and can understand all things. Behind me I shall leave my books. They are ancient and rare, and most of them in mystic languages. But I have translated many of the passages into English. These volumes contain the black lore of the ancient peoples of the East. Only a few men have any notion whatever of the depths of such wisdom, of the power to be gained through its use. And you, Little Tom, are to be my heir. The paper here is witnessed. I give it to you."
Little Tom took the sheet and glanced wonderingly from it to the Professor.
"You did not believe I was truly your friend," said the Professor. "Now, what greater proof is there than this legacy so freely given? Does that prove my good regard, Little Tom?"