London Bridge

~ A Short Story by Andre Norton


Synopsis ~

This story was expanded in 1974 to create the longer story Outside. London Bridge is told exclusively from the viewpoint of the older brother, where Outside concentrates on his younger sister. In this version of the future, the last remnants of humanity sealed themselves into domed cities to protect themselves from the polluted world outside, only to be ravaged by plagues. The only immunes were too young to remember the world before the cities were sealed; the city is now a patchwork of gang territories, reflected in the slangy speech of Lew, the narrator. A strange Rhyming Man has appeared from nowhere, and has been luring the youngest children away from gangs all over the city (overtones of the Pied Piper of Hamlin). The children have not been seen again, so the gang leaders are organizing a massive hunt for the Rhyming Man. Then Marsie, Lew's little sister, disappears.


Write-up from a fan ~

An early version of the novelette OUTSIDE.  A group of children, some of whom are now approaching adulthood, have been stranded in a domed city (London, in the future), by a plague that killed all the adults. Now, suddenly a Rhyming Man is apparently abducting the smaller children.  The hero (unnamed), along with one of his gang, is searching for the Rhyming Man who has just taken off another bunch of small children.  They do find him and the children, and watch unbelievingly as the Rhyming Man chants a silly rhyme and the children vanish.  Later, the hero manages to catch the Rhyming man and tries to make him bring Marsie back, or send him to where she is.  The Rhyming Man tells him he's too big, he can't believe, but the hero proves him wrong and manages to escape to where Marsie and the rest of the littles are living in a clean, unpolluted world. ~ SL


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Oct. (1973), Edited by Edward L. Ferman, Published by Mercury Press, Mag., $0.75, 162pg ~ cover by Jacqui Morgan
  • Book of Andre Norton, The (1975) Edited by Rodger Elwood, Published by DAW, PB, 0-451-UY119-8, $1.25, 221pg ~ cover by Jack Gaughan


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1994) Included in "Fata-Morgan 9" (a collection of short stories) ~ Published in Nizhny Novorod, by Phlox, 5-871-98061-9, HC, 478pg ~ translation by N. Rezanova ~ cover by Morell ~ Russian title Фата - Моргана 9