Baby H.P.

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Arreola, Juan José. "Baby H.P." Initial publication Arreola's collection Confabulario, 1952. Translated by Andrea Bell and rpt. Cosmos Latinos, q.v. Also, The Big Book of Science Fiction: The Ultimate Collection. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, editors. New York: Vintage Books, 2016.[1]

Parody of a long ad (direct mail?) "To the Lady of the House" for a new and amazing product.

Note: "Leyden jar" is an old way to store electricity, of the static variety; in the 21st c., in this context, we may think of it as a rechargeable battery.

The Baby H.P. is a very strong and lightweight metal structure that adapts perfectly to an infant's delicate body by means of comfortable belts, wrist straps, rings and pins. The attachments on this supplementary skeleton capture ever one of the child's movements, collecting them in a small Leyden jar that can be fastened, as needed to the infants back or chest. A needle indicates when the jar is full. Then, madam, simply detach the jar and plug it into a special receptacle, into which it automatically discharges its contents. This container can then be stored in any corner of the house, and represents a precious supply of electricity [...]. (Cosmos Latinos 59)

In the penultimate paragraph there are reassurances that the rumors of electrocuted children are untrue, and that it's mere superstition to think Baby H.P. attracts lightning strikes or even emits sparks.

See for comic use of what would later become of motifs of an exoskeleton, as in, e.g., ALIENS (film) and humans as batteries, e.g., THE MATRIX; interestingly, the thermodynamics in this elegant little spoof are more reliable than those in THE MATRIX and its spinoffs. Note grotesquely comic use of the superimposition of the (electro)mechanical upon the human, in this case a normally hyperactive child who is only slightly restrained and whose motion is not intentionally impaired but encouraged and put to use.

RDE, finishing, 6Sep20