Sunday, June 13, 2010

“Shock Absorber” 1955 military SF short story by E. G. von Wald

Thanks to the lords of discipline at Project Gutenberg and, you can read or download "Shock Absorber," a military SF short story written by E. G. von Wald. Originally published in the June 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, the story is set on Mars and revolves around a dysfunctional military bureaucracy that spends more time infighting than fighting the aliens. Here are the opening lines:

THE AGING LITTLE PSYCHOLOGIST looked down at the captain's insignia on his sleeve and scowled.

"I know it's a lousy, fouled-up situation, commander," he said with evident irony. "You speak of discipline. Well, it's bad enough here on Mars, where a junior officer like you feels free to argue with a full captain like me, but out there with the fleet, discipline is now virtually nonexistent."

He looked up again and quickly added, "Oh, of course there is a discipline of a sort, and in its own way it is quite effective. Strict, too, as you will find. But it has few of the marks of the military academy, of which the regular officers were so fond. Perhaps that was the reason why they let the situation get away from them, and why we are in charge of it now."

"I still think—" the commander started, but he was interrupted again….

[via Tinkoo Valia of Variety SF]

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