Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Security, Poul William Anderson

This is the last story of Poul William Anderson's that I downloaded from feedbooks.com. There are a few more that I didn't download yet. So there are two more to come. Poul William Anderson (1926-2001) is a brilliant science fiction writer, worthy of the acclaims and accolades that have been given to him. "Security" is another short story, well worth downloading and reading. It is available at feedbooks.com.

This short fiction has political elements that are similar to "Industrial Revolution," whose review can be found in the link provided.

America has become a tyrannical power which no longer holds to democratic elections. Those who disagree with the state are often taken into custody and never seen again. Subversive talk is treason, and being accused of treason is the same as being given a death sentence.

Dr. Lancaster is a brilliant physicist who doesn't realize the predicament that his culture is in, or the loss of individual freedoms. He is one of the masses who believes that what the government does is right and necessary.

There are rebels, and they need a good physicist who can help them develop weapons that can be made cheaply while being better than their contemporaries. They manage to trick Dr. Lancaster into believing that he is being brought out into space to develop some technology which will give the rebels this edge: a kind of way to store a great deal of energy. A super battery, in effect, which can be used for powering weapons and vehicles in a revolutionary way.

By the time he has succeeded in his project, he has begun to appreciate the community of the research lab. He isn't under constant threat of security. He doesn't have to worry about saying the wrong thing. He feels free (though I don't think that's how rebellions really work. Usually they're just a different form of tyranny). This is something that catches in him. When he returns to earth, he cannot help but start to see through government hypocrisy, the fake manufactured news, and the seed of doubt begins to grow. However, he is still content to continue on.

While he was gone to that space station where the research was taking place (why not on earth in a bunker... maybe the process required something that the vacuum of space has that a bunker doesn't. I'm not entirely certain.), a double was placed for him so that no one would know he had been abducted. This would have worked, but the project manager, Berg, had ratted on him. The government picks him up, tortures him, trying to get him to give up the secrets. At the end of the torture, he's come to realize that he's covering for the rebels, and he's still ready to die with the secrets. Berg, however, arranges to have him rescued. It was a kind of test, and he wanted him back to continue doing his work.

The story was quite enjoyable. Poul William Anderson is a really good writer who has something interesting to say, something to think about in his stories.

Eventually, someone rats on him

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