Landmark Science Fiction Story by Cordwainer Smith. * * * * 1/2

She got the which of what-she-did,
Hid the bell with a blot, she did,
But she fell in love with a hominid,
Where is the which of the what-she-did?

The narrator of the story looks back on a time when society was stratified, where humans rule over animals genetically modified to be look, think, act, and most importantly, work like humans. The narrator relates how one forbidden relationship changed everything.

First published in Galaxy magazine in 1962, "The Ballad of Lost C'mell" marks a turning point in Science Fiction, as authors moved from space operas and gadget stories to socially relevant stories that were more than mere escapism.

"The Ballad of Lost C'mell" seems mark the first appearance in SF of:

- Genetic modification of animals to be humans in all but status
- the Really Big Thing
- the Civil Rights movement

I was given this story to read in a History of SF class in college. It was anthologized in James Gunn's The Road to Science Fiction. It thrilled me then, and recently, many years later, I purchased a story collection called My Favorite Science Fiction Story. There it was again! Thank you, Lois McMaster Bujold, for picking it as your favorite story!