Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘Atomic Power’ by Don A. Stuart

with one comment

Don A Stuart is John W Campbell Jr, the father of hard science fiction and the bloke who is ultimately responsible for this anthology. So what has he got for us? Well, a strange story in four disparate parts that starts off diamond hard and ends up hippy soft.

1) An introduction of sorts involving a tour of an atomic power planet. Along with the title, this subtly sets up the fact the story will have something to do with atomic power.

2) A scientist discovers the world has gone completely wrong. Rather than taking action, he labouriously explains his reasoning to a colleague. Sample quote:

“I measured it against a potentiometer hook-up. Now a potentiometer is a regular arm-and-pan balance for electrical voltages, as you ought to know, even if you a civil engineer. You take a standard cell, an outside current, and standardize the thing, then substitute your unknown voltage. The system will measure a ten thousandth of a volt if you do it correctly. The point is that a potentiometer uses nothing but electrical balances. It balances a fixed current through a resistance against an electrical potential.”

After a couple of pages of that they do actually decide to try and do something about it.

3) The wrongness has now manifested itself and we get a long descriptive passage of the over-crowding panic that sinks the last ship out of New York . It seems ripped out of a disaster novel and is excessively long and jarring in tone in the context of this otherwise dry story.

4) Back to the scientist. He has solved the problem: what if our universe is just, like, one atom in an super-universe and someone else is using it in a power plant? To which you can only reply: cut your hair, Campbell. Armed with this knowledge, the scientist makes our universe taste unpleasant to the super-universe power planet and then plots to rebuild the ravaged Earth through the glory of – you guessed it – atomic power.

Quality: *
Hardness: ***** or *

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Written by Martin

16 June 2010 at 09:16

One Response

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  1. […] Tom Goodwin ‘The Land Ironclads’ by HG Wells ‘The Hole Man’ by Larry Niven ‘Atomic Power’ by Don A. Stuart ‘Stop Evolution in Its Tracks!’ by John T. Sladek ‘The Hungry Guinea Pig’ […]


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