(Found) Long Lost Story "Come watch men build" (Not the Title)

Hikes in Rain

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Looking for a short story, title and author unknown. (Of course!) Takes place on another planet. Humanoid population. Unusual humans, as we learn. Most of them can figure out almost anything, even though they live in an agrarian civilization. There's a male antagonist, quite different from the normal population, who's trying to make something of himself by forcing the folks to build him a tower. He takes the young female protagonist down into catacombs, built by another race of humans. He has two flashlights; one with run down batteries (dim yellow light); the other fully charged, bright white light. The charged one fails, and the man is frightened, since you can't tell when the dim one will also fail. The young lady turns the damaged one over a couple times, and knows how to open it. Immediately finds that the problem is a spider nest in the switch, now charred. Poor spider, she says. Takes a clip from her hair, scrapes the contacts clean, reassembles the flashlight, and hands it to the man. "It'll work now", she says, and of course it does. Remember, she's never seen one of these before.

A spaceship arrives, and is spiraling down to land. The folks assemble to build something. The "head man" takes a small disc from his belt, turns out to be a megaphone. The male antagonist is standing up on the top of his tower, the third floor? The head man, tells him to "come watch men build, Ossar" (his name). Quickly, efficiently, and without direction, the folks build a device. They start to toss heavy metal objects into it, while a dark sphere begins to grow and get more dense the more stuff gets tossed in. Meanwhile, the ship spirals lower and lower. Eventually, they end up with what seemed to me to be a black hole! which they toss up in the path of the ship.

Seems this isn't the first visit. The male antagonist is the sole survivor of the first ship, and has been raised by the folks. He doesn't have their innate abilities to do stuff, and is mentally reverted to a childlike state, so that he can live out his life happy.

I read this as part of an anthology back in the early 1960's. I've since lost the book, and can't figure out either title nor author. I'd appreciate any help finding it.
 

Hikes in Rain

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And perhaps because I posted this, I found it! Sort of like taking a note; if I do that to remind me of something, it turns out I don't need the note, because I don't forget. The story is The Touch of Your Hand, by Theodore Sturgeon. One of a small book of his stories entitled A Touch of Strange. Since I only get rid of books at gunpoint, and only then if I can't hide and recover them. So I looked, and sure enough, still have it from back when I was a kid. Time hasn't been kind to this book. This copy was published in 1965, so it's 54 years old. Yikes! The high acid paper is dark yellow and brittle, and the glue in the perfect binding, a misnomer if ever there was one, has dried out and turned loose so that all the pages are coming out. I'd bet most other editions would be in much the same condition, and electronic versions don't seem to be available.
 

DannMcGrew

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I'd bet most other editions would be in much the same condition, and electronic versions don't seem to be available.


There are a number of copies available at abebooks.com in an array of conditions from "Very Good" on down including some first editions.
 

The Judge

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Glad you found it! I do hope you'll stay with us, and not only help other book-searchers as you've already kindly done, but also add to discussions about books and what you're reading generally -- we're always delighted to meet other SF-lovers!
 

mellotronman

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ISFDB says your collection was last reprinted forty years ago, but Sturgeon's complete short stories were republished in thirteen volumes between 1995 and 2010, so all is not lost!
 

Hikes in Rain

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Nice find, thank you! Off to haunt the used book stores now. Have you noticed how few there are all of a sudden?
 

Matteo

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ISFDB also notes that there's an e-book version (if you like that sort of thing...) of A Saucer of Loneliness (Vol. VII in the "Complete Stories") that includes that story - available on Kindle.
 

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