[originally posted here at Castalia House]
The Rebels by Gordon R. Dickson appeared in the Winter 1954 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine. It can be read here at archive.org.
This is the first story I’ve read by Gordon R. Dickson, and I’m a bit disappointed that it didn’t have space bears with swords and lasers, because that is literally all I know him for. But hey, this story wasn’t bad, even if it was more on the “Thrilling Wonder Stories” ‘gee, ain’t that neat?’ end of things rather than “Rawr, I am a space bear with a sword!”
In The Rebels, a trio of academic archaeologists has been expelled from academia forever. Their crime? Refusing to recant on their insistent belief in telekinesis and publicly retract their most recently published papers. It’s impossible, foolish, and would make them the laughing stock of universities everywhere and would certainly taint whichever institute employed them.
Nevermind that they have empirical proof of the phenomenon in that not only had the three of them mastered it, they had used it to aid in their most recent archaeological dig.
While two of academics go off on frivolous adventures of daring and narrow escapes [which are only but briefly recounted], Winkely, the oldest and most milquetoast of the three resigns himself to writing his memoirs. Thinking to do either a small run or leave them to be published after his death, the old professor is revisited by his more adventurous colleagues who insist that not only will the book make them all famous and make the professor tons of money, it’ll clear their names in the academic community!
Sure enough, Winkely’s book is a smash hit, and the opportunities come pouring in. At their old campus, unrest has seized the student body: old Winkely had never flunked anybody out of his Geology 101 course, and the underclassmen wanted him back at all costs. While the college board would love to get the newly made heroes back, the president who’d fired them in the first place is having none of it: telekinesis is just too silly!
When all hell is about to break loose, Winkely implores the president one more time—and he at last nods in assent [spoilers, it was telekinesis what made him do it].