A medical instrument kit from the year 2450 is transported back in time and falls into the possession of old Dr. Full, a retired physician and drunkard who had been expelled from the medical association for milking patients. The futuristic instruments are awe-inspiring and virtually operate themselves. The discovery of the black bag restores Dr. Full's self-worth and dedication to healing.

A street-wise woman, Angie, realizes the value of the medical instruments and their origin. She forces Dr. Full to accept her as a partner. The two of them soon establish a successful medical practice. When Dr. Full decides to donate the instrument kit to the College of Surgeons, Angie murders him.

While demonstrating the safety of the medical bag to a patient, Angie plunges the futuristic surgical scalpel into her own neck, confident it will do no harm. Meanwhile, authorities in the future learn that the medical bag is missing and deactivate it just prior to Angie's demonstration. She slits her own throat. By the time the police arrive, the contents of the black bag had already rusted and are decomposing.


This clever science fiction story entertains and instructs. The doctor's black bag is an enduring and powerful symbol of the medical profession and healing. This tale employs that symbol to raise interesting questions about the role of the physician and the nature of healing. There is clearly more to doctoring than technology and skill.

The story foreshadows future technological advances that threaten to reduce the role of the physician to a mere mechanic. While the author portrays a future brimming with scientific discovery and dazzling technology, it nevertheless seems to be a society bereft of common sense.

Primary Source

Great Science Fiction About Doctors



Place Published

New York




Groff Conklin & Noah D. Fabricant

Page Count