Sunday, August 27, 2023

"The Plan Itself Had Been a Stroke of Genius"

"Stroke of Genius."
By Randall Garrett (1927-87).
Illustration by Phillips (HERE).
First appearance: Infinity Science Fiction, August 1956.
Reprints page (HERE).
Novelette (19 pages as a PDF).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).

     "Crayley plotted a murder that was scientific in both motive and method—and as perfect as the mask of his face!"

Programming a murder takes a lot of planning, but there's always, as a shrewd LAPD cop tells us many times, "just one more thing": "Crayley had five minutes to get to that erase button . . ."

Principal characters:
~ Lewis Crayley:
  ". . . had built a magnificently efficient wall between himself and the world. He could see out, but no one could see in."
~ Major Stratford:
  "Whole colonies were gone when the five-year check came. The pattern was only in one area, but we're pretty sure of what's happening. Something out there, something intelligent in its own way, is erasing those colonies. Our analysts suspect that whoever or whatever is doing it doesn't know we're intelligent. What it boils down to is this: we have an interstellar war on our hands."
~ Berin Klythe:
  "Three years ago, Berin Klythe had been a graying, stocky, aging man of sixty. Now he was lithe, dark of hair, clear of eye, and full of the energy of a twenty-five-year-old body."
~ Fenwick Green:
  ". . . was undoubtedly the greatest co-ordination engineer who had ever lived."
~ Lesker:
  "Nobody got out of it alive. We're sending in the mobiles now. The secondaries in there won't work."

References and resources:
- "waldoes":
  A safe way to handle unsafe stuff: "A remote manipulator, also known as a telefactor, telemanipulator, or waldo (after the 1942 short story 'Waldo' by Robert A. Heinlein, which features a man who invents and uses such devices), is a device which, through electronic, hydraulic, or mechanical linkages, allows a hand-like mechanism to be controlled by a human operator. The purpose of such a device is usually to move or manipulate hazardous materials for reasons of safety, similar to the operation and play of a claw crane game" (from Wikipedia HERE). Also see Wikipedia (HERE) for the background of Heinlein's story (WARNING: SPOILERS!) and Technovelgy (HERE).
- "The sub-nucleonic converter":
  Don't forget that our author is dealing here with 1950s science. See Wikipedia (HERE) as well as the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs page on subnucleonics (HERE).
- "Sometimes something went wrong with Rejuvenation":
  Science fiction writers have long made use of rejuvenation. As Wikipedia says (HERE): "Aging is the accumulation of damage to macromolecules, cells, tissues and organs in and on the body which, when it can no longer be tolerated by an organism, ultimately leads to its death. If any of that damage can be repaired, the result is rejuvenation."
- Two other murders that have been made to look like workplace accidents: Isaac Asimov's "The Billiard Ball" (HERE) and L.A.G. Strong's "The Clue That Wasn't There" (HERE).
- Our latest encounter with Gordon Randall Phillip David Garrett, one of many, was his "The Time Snatcher" (HERE).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

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