Friday, May 28, 2021

"I Don't Like His Kind of Slime, and I'll Do My Best To Get Rid of Them"

THE SHAN OF THIZAR is about to get himself coronated, with the highly valuable Crown Jewels an integral part of the ceremony. Jewels of any description tend to attract people of, shall we say, less than sterling character; stealing them and getting away with it always presents a challenge to thieves, but a smooth operator and a beautiful young woman think they've figured out how to pull off a . . .

"Heist Job on Thizar."
By Randall Garrett (1927-87).
Illustrated by Virgil Finlay (1914-71; HERE).
First appearance: Amazing Stories, October 1956.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (10 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE) and The Luminist Archives (HERE; scroll down to text page 22).

     "In the future, we may discover new planets; our ships may rocket to new worlds; robots may be smarter than people. But we'll still have slick characters willing and able to turn a fast buck—even though they have to be smarter than Einstein to do it."

It would seem that even smooth operators have scruples . . . .

Principal characters:
~ Anson Drake:
  "I was drawn back by the memory of the natural beauties of your planet. The very thought of the fat, flabby face of old Belgezad, decorated with a bulbous nose that is renowned throughout the Galaxy, was irresistible. So here I am."
~ Jomis Dobigel:
  "You're very funny, Earthman. But we don't like Earthmen here."
~ Norma Knight:
  ". . . was known throughout this whole sector of the Galaxy as the cleverest jewel thief the human race had ever spawned."
~ Viron Belgezad:
  "This time you won't get away, Drake! Stealing anything from the palace of the Shan carries a minimum penalty of twenty years in Thizar Prison."
~ The Lord Prosecutor:
  ". . . looked as though he suspected Drake of having taken leave of his senses."

References and resources:
- Astronomical references: Thizar, Seladon II: Inventions of the author. Algol: A real three-star system about 90 light-years away in the Pegasus constellation as seen from Earth; some-times called the Demon Star (Wikipedia HERE). Andromeda: "The number of stars contain-ed in the Andromeda Galaxy is estimated at one trillion (1 times 10 to the 12th power), or roughly twice the number estimated for the Milky Way" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "smarter than Einstein": Some say he was the smartest man who ever lived (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "able to turn a fast buck": "A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust. Confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, and greed. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as 'a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct . . . intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial,' as they 'benefit con operators ("con men") at the expense of their victims (the "marks")'" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Little Bo-Peep": Not meant to be a compliment (Wikipedia HERE).
- "worth traveling parsecs to see": A measure of distance in space not as well known as the "light-year": "The parsec (symbol: pc) is a unit of length used to measure the large distances to astronomical objects outside the Solar System, approximately equal to 3.26 light-years or 206,000 astronomical units (au), i.e. 30.9 trillion kilometres (19.2 trillion miles)" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the Crown Jewels": On Earth, as on Thizar, they represent more than just wealth: "Crown jewels are the objects of metalwork and jewellery in the regalia of a current or former monarchy. They are often used for the coronation of a monarch and a few other ceremonial occasions. A monarch may often be shown wearing them in portraits, as they symbolize the power and continuity of the monarchy. Additions to them may be made, but since medieval times the existing items are typically passed down unchanged as they symbolize the continuity of the monarchy" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "this whole sector of the Galaxy": "In stellar cartography, a sector, which was referred to as a star sector or space sector, was a gridded region within the Milky Way Galaxy. Sectors were composed of an area and volume encompassing several light years and typically contained several star systems. A group of sectors was called a sector block, which was located in a quadrant" (Memory Alpha HERE).
- "Coronation Day": "A coronation is the act of placement or bestowal of a crown upon a monarch's head. The term also generally refers not only to the physical crowning but to the whole ceremony wherein the act of crowning occurs, along with the presentation of other items of regalia, marking the formal investiture of a monarch with regal power. Aside from the crowning, a coronation ceremony may comprise many other rituals such as the taking of special vows by the monarch, the investing and presentation of regalia to the monarch, and acts of homage by the new ruler's subjects and the performance of other ritual deeds of special significance to the particular nation" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "they're simply well-cut crystals of titanium dioxide": On today's Earth it supports a $13 billion industry: "Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium(IV) oxide or titania, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, chemical formula TiO2. When used as a pigment, it is called titanium white, Pigment White 6 (PW6), or CI 77891. Generally, it is sourced from ilmenite, rutile, and anatase. It has a wide range of applications, including paint, sunscreen, and food coloring" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Randall Garrett was tirelessly publishing SFF beginning in 1950 and never letting up; see the ISFDb (HERE).
- Another SFFnal adventure by Randall Garrett that you might enjoy is "Witness for the Persecution" (HERE).

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