Saturday, June 27, 2015

"There Was an Absolute Minimum of Motivation for Crime"

"Murder, 1990."
By C. B. Gilford (1920-2010).
Short story.
First appearance: Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (AHMM), October 1960.
Reprinted in Best Detective Stories of the Year, 16th Series (1961), Alfred Hitchcock's Tales to Keep You Spellbound (1976), The Best of Mystery (1980), Alfred Hitchcock's Book of Horror Stories: Book 9 (1989), and as "Murder 2090" in Dark Sins, Dark Dreams (1978).
Online HERE (pages 61-78).
Usually a name like "C. B. Gilford" conceals a female author, but in this case the "C. B." stands for "Charles Bernard," characterized as an "academic"; while he enjoyed a fruitful association with both Alfred Hitchcock's magazine and TV series (see the links below), Gilford also rates a listing in the Internet Science Fiction Database for his SF efforts, of which "Murder, 1990" is one.

In his introduction to the story in Best Detective Stories of the Year, Brett Halliday says:
Want a look into the future? Here it is, presented with such absolute conviction and realism that we feel the author is there, and that his manuscript must have come back to us by some weird manipulation of a Time Machine or some such.
My feeling after finishing this story was that the present isn't so bad after all.
You might feel that way, too.

It was small, light, and seemed ready to fall apart at his touch.
Trembling, but overwhelmed by curiosity, he lifted the cover and glanced at the fly leaf. The Logic of Murder he read. For a moment he experienced a dismal disappointment. The word "logic" had some meaning for him, though vague. The last word, "murder," was completely and totally mysterious. The book was useless if he knew absolutely nothing of its subject matter. But as he pondered it, he was not so sure. The book might teach him what "murder" was. And "murder" might be something vastly entertaining.
* * *
It would be very nice to share a double cubicle with someone, to have someone to talk to, really talk to, someone to whisper to, out of the reach of the microphones, someone with whom to discuss strange and fascinating and bizarre ideas such as murder, and what civilization must have been like when individuals dared to murder one another.
* * *
Paul realized that he lived in an ideal civilization, where there was an absolute minimum of motivation for crime. Except the one that he had found . . .
* * *
Possibly she imagined he was going to caress her, despite the fact that such things were strictly forbidden during working hours. Her chubby shoulders trembled expectantly, awaiting his touch. He plunged the knife in quickly.
- Gilford's TV contributions (6 times for Hitchcock) are listed and linked HERE, while his science fiction in notated HERE.

Category: Science fiction (future crime division)

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