The Blue Mouse


From the Introduction in The Many Worlds of Science Fiction, edited by Ben Bova.

"And look at the many different ways these themes are handled. Both Gene Wolfe’s and Burt Filer’s stories are about war, but no two stories could be farther apart in treatment or style. Yet each says something significant about the human spirit in the face of war." Introduction, page 3.

Foreword by Ben Bova in The Many Worlds of Science Fiction.

The Blue Mouse


War is an atrocity because it makes murder heroic. Gene Wolfe has seen war firsthand, in Korea, and has written a story about what war does to a youth who does not want to fight or kill.

Born in Brooklyn, raised in Houston, Gene Wolfe began reading science fiction pulp magazines while hiding behind the candy case in his neighborhood drugstore. His reading habits eventually expanded, due mainly to school, to include Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Wolfe (no relation), Ernest Hemingway. He began writing in 1956, shortly after getting married. His stories have appeared in many magazines and in SF collections such as the "Orbit" series, Again Dangerous Visions, and Alchemy and Academe. His first novel, Operation Ares, was published in 1970.

Soft-spoken, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, Gene Wolfe turns out stories that have a distinctive quality. Often they are about teen-aged boys on the verge of manhood. "The Blue Mouse" is about a youth who faces the true horror of war: kill or be killed.


Future UN forces are divided into Techs and Marksmen. The former feel superior to the latter because they do not fight. One Tech discovers he can fight when he has to.


  • The title is an ironic reference to "The Blue Max", the nickname of a high-ranking German military decoration and since generally associated with military heroism.
  • The narrator's pet mice appear to be genetically engineered, and the title is likely also be referencing that.

Unresolved Questions

  • Was Daws misdiagnosed (because he was thinking about his mice at the time) or has his experiences changed him?

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