"Hard Luck Diggings."
By Jack Vance (1916-2013).
Magnus Ridolph No. 1.
First appearance: Startling Stories, July 1948.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at UNZ starting (HERE) and finishing (HERE; go to page 145).
"It's a homicidal maniac, no doubt as to that, but every time I think I've got him spotted, there's another killing."
Multiple murders at a planetary settlement development site, all following the same basic
MO; it's up to Magnus Ridolph, with his orderly mathematical mind, to get at the root of
the problem . . .
~ Captain Julic:
"It's true, is it? We heard rumors in Starport, but I didn't—"
~ Superintendent James Rogge:
"Do you know I've lost thirty-three men this last month? You'd be anxious yourself with
two, three men strangled every day."~ Magnus Ridolph, unofficially attached to the Terrestrial Intelligence Corps:
"It is very clear. In fact, it is a logical necessity. You yourself would have arrived at the solution if you had manipulated your thoughts with any degree of order."
Comment: Once again the artist vitiates the mystery.
- The basic set-up of today's story puts us in mind of an original series episode of Star Trek (SPOILERS: Wikipedia HERE; Memory Alpha HERE).
HERE), the SFE (HERE), the Library of Congress (HERE), Vance's webpage (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and the few instances when Hollywood didn't ignore Vance, the IMDb (HERE).
- Magnus Ridolph appeared in 10 stories (ISFDb list HERE); also see The Thrilling Detective Website (HERE) for more background.