Monday, April 9, 2007

"The Reluctant Orchid" (short story): A murder gone wrong

This engaging little tale relies for its science fiction part on the unusual murder weapon.

Story summary (spoiler).

A loner with low self esteem is living in isolation, feels bullied by his dog-trainer aunt, & decides to kill her.

This loner also has a well-respected-by-peers hobby - he is a very good orchid grower. On one of his visits to the dealer, he bargains a little unfamiliar orchid that looks dead. And plants it in his nursery.

After a while, he has more than he bargained for! This orchid is carnivorous - has grown large tendrils, has a well developed nervous system, can produce intriguing sounds, & eats meat.

Our villain decides to use this orchid as a murder weapon. So he trains the orchid - kind of preparing it for the big event.

On D-day, he brings his aunt within easy reach of the orchid. And something amazing happens!

Very good story.

See also.

  1. Tom Williams' "Florescence" from Antipodean SF, #111 (August/Sseptember 2007): Generally similar theme, but a far less interesting story compared to Clarke's.

Fact sheet.

"The Reluctant Orchid", short story, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
First published: 1956
Rating: A

Collected in.

  1. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"
  2. "Tales from the White Hart"
  3. "Of Time and Stars"
  4. "Across the Sea of Stars"
  5. "More Than One Universe"


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading this, and can't help but wonder if Little Shop of Horrors (1960) was loosely based on it? I didn't find any reference linking them on IMDB or Wikipedia.

Tinkoo said...

I haven't seen "Little Shop of Horrors".