The Weans by Robert Nathan (1956)

The Weans by Robert Nathan (1956)The Weans by Robert Nathan
Published: Alfred A. Knopf (1956), eBook, 56pg
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Satire
Source: Public Domain

A fascinating story of the expeditions of Kenya's greatest scientists who discovered the civilization of the Weans.

There’s a bot on Mastodon called Secretly Public Domain which automatically toots out links on Hathi Trust to books with expired copyrights. I of course follow this bot, because I love both public domain books and also finding forgotten books to read and then gloat about finding.

The Weans is a scifi novella written as an anthropological treatise from the year 7856 or so. I think it might be a little more fun to go into it knowing only that, so if you plan on reading it, skip the rest of this post for now (and then come back and let me know how it went).




Okay, so the hook is that the “Weans” is the United States, once a major society but now completely gone and obliterated, to the point that all that remains are scraps and fragments. It’s a social satire on multiple levels: US culture, archaeology, and probably scifi itself.

Some favorite parts:
– The capital of the Weans was Pound-Laundry (a translation of, of course, Washing-ton)
– A statue of a goddess named Libby (Statue of Liberty), found just beyond the terminal land-mass of n.Yok (New York).
– The USPS motto being taken as a statement of war and destruction.
– The enemy of the Weans is the More Weans, or Ussers (USSR).
– The inclusion of photos and drawing of both the archaeologists and the Wean fragments.

A fun little book, for archaeology nerds in particular.

Read: August 2019

This novella was also was made into a radio show called Report on the Weans (available on

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