Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

SF Stories That Need Sequels

“Details” by Poul Anderson

In the original story, human history has been guided by benign humanoid extraterrestrials. At the beginning of the 20th century, a new guy takes over … a credentialed idiot with powerful relatives. He's recalled back to headquarters and kicked upstairs when they hear that Earth has both nationalism and nuclear weapons.

In the sequel, the replacement pulled off a near miracle and kept a nuclear war from breaking out. He was given a medal … and also a court martial. Apparently, assassinations, epidemics, nuclear meltdowns amd taking over the mind of Stanislaw Petrov were not approved methods ….

“The New Prime” by Jack Vance (also published as “The Brain of the Galaxy”)

In the original story, the reader saw a variety of exciting scenes in quick succession, each of which demonstrated a virtue on the part of the protagonist. At the end, it turns out that they were all art of a civil-service test for Galactic Prime. The Old Galactic Prime had written the test and, for some reason, turned out to be the most qualified candidate. He was the most decisive, forceful, quick-thinking, imaginative, and self-controlled candidate. The Council, however, pick someone else. The Galactic Prime is also the Brain of the Galaxy. His personality influenced the personality of everybody else in the galaxy. As a result, we saw totalitarianism (and also college fraternities) on Earth and even worse results elsewhere. They pick another candidate, a paragon of gentleness, kindness, and generosity. The only problem is that their candidate was driven insane by the test.

In the sequel, the New Prime took over in 1963. A regent was appointed in 1980. The regent waddled into headquarters (an explanation for the obesity epidemic) and was able to restore order. The New Prime had apparently recovered by 2001 and resumed control. There were enough problems for the Old Prime to launch an attempted coup in 2016…

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