Monday, September 12, 2016

Industrial Revolution, Poul William Anderson

"Industrial Revolution" is a novella by the acclaimed science fiction author, Poul Anderson (1926-2001). It is available for free at

This novella is the story of how a corporate fledgling enterprise invested in an asteroid mining outfit. The group are referred to as 'asterites' without the capital A. Not sure why that is if they are a distinct people. The group was a part, or even the root of, the revolution. I suppose this is a nod to the Red Scare that America was undergoing in its efforts to undermine communist movements within the US.

On earth, America is going through a socialist revolution where the party in power is demanding that the government or the people ought to own everything. That includes an outfit that invested in a mining operation within Jupiter's orbit.

A naval vessel is sent out to deceive the group into thinking that a nuclear warhead was accidentally released and put the entire operation at risk. However, Blade (the protagonist) sees through the deception and jury rigs some devices to fight back. He succeeds, and the spirit of capitalism is saved.

A few things that short circuit a few points: first, when Blade threatens the captain of the vessel with his defenses, he claims that the hull of the navy vessel cannot withstand the explosion of Jupiter gas (which is supposed to be combustible. Though, of course, I don't see how that is possible) and that it doesn't have sufficient defenses against the improvised weapons. What kind of navy vessel is this that cannot defend itself against the equivalent of a bunch of rowboats? In any case, the ruse works. The mining operators are able to maintain their hold on the outfit.

This novella isn't as good as the last pieces of Anderson's that I read. I don't recommend it. But it is short.

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