STRANGE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OMNIBUS

BOOK: STRANGE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OMNIBUS
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Copywrite 2014 Benson Lee Grayson

STRANGE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OMNIBUS
By
Benson Lee Grayson
Table of Contents

1. The Second Renaissance

2. The Washington Spring

3. Putin’s Flea

4. The Mouse Who Traveled Trough Time

5. Speak Of The Devil

6. That Thing In The Cellar

7. The Man On The Moon

8. The Enemies Machine

9. Mission To Earth

10. Monkey Business

11. You Are What You Eat

12. Rocks

13. Putin For President

14. Erskine’s Law

15. Snafu

16. The Cat’s Meow

17. Homo Superior

18. The Perfect Drug

19. Limbo

20. Precepts Of Statesmanship

21. Civilized?

22. Admiralty Affairs

23. Double Jeopardy

24. Bancroft’s Time Machine

25. The Enemies Machine

26. Eat Up No More

27. The Devil You Know

28. The Vulcan Project

29. Obesity

30. The Seers

31. The Sterling Prize

32. Mad Scientist

33. Avoid The Fire

34. Follow The Rats

35. The Probe

36. School Reform

37. The Submersible

38. Halloween

THE SECOND RENAISSANCE

The rebirth of knowledge of the ancients, known as the Second Renaissance, originated in Washington, D.C. in the middle of the Twenty-First Century. Its geographic location was associated with the fact that the Library of Congress, in the nation’s capital, had become the largest single repository of copies of the works of the ancients. This status had been conveyed upon it by the fact that the original documents had been destroyed during the ravaging of the libraries of Europe in the first and second world wars.

The immediate cause of the Second Renaissance was the decision of the Library of Congress to copy all of its extensive holdings into a newly installed cloud computing system. The intention was to help preserve them from deterioration, and to enhance the Library’s capability to make the contents readily available to users around the country. During the work of preparing the holdings for uploading to the computers, some of the library staff happened to look at the documents, and were intrigued by what they found. They were astounded to learn that the commonly-held belief that the earth is round, and that it orbits the sun were relatively recent, and that for the greater part of man’s existence, it was understood that a flat earth is orbited each day by the sun.

It was impossible to contain the news. Word of the discovery traveled rapidly among the library staff, and subsequently to outsiders. It became a hot topic of discussion in Washington political circles and along Embassy Row. Some prominent scientists, unwilling to see their scholarly reputations unravel, dismissed the new findings as an absurd superstition. They might conceivably have been successful, if they had not been publicly challenged by a few of the more progressive graduate assistants, and junior professors.

A re-examination of the “proof” that the earth is round revealed that most of the claims to have circumnavigated the earth were due to navigational blunders. The apparent evidence that the earth is not flat, offered by individuals clinging to that obsolete theory, was shown to be pure fable when it was explained that a slight elevation in the center of the flat earth, which gives it the shape of an upturned saucer, accounted for the appearance of the masts of a ship before the entire vessel comes into view. Further proof became available when the U.S. Navy radio station in Guam found, in its files, a copy of the last radio transmission of the lost aviator, Amelia Earhart, on July 2, 1937, stating that she “had reached the end, and that her plane was falling into the void,” a clear reference to having flown off the rim of the world.

A crucial event aiding the spread of the new learning, came when the Massachusetts legislature voted to require textbooks used in the state public schools to include material drawn from the ancient texts. Other states quickly followed suit, with only a few holdouts in the Deep South.

The most rapid changes, as a result of the Second Renaissance, came in the areas of politics and government. The ancients had clearly shown the inefficiency of the democratic system. When carefully examined by the unbiased mind, it was clear that giving every person the right to vote, regardless of their intelligence, interest, or ability would produce results far less efficient than a limited franchise. Systems of weighted voting, or limiting the ballots to those over forty-five, were tried and found wanting. So too, was rule by an oligarchy. Eventually, by general consensus, it was decided to appoint a king for life.

Initially, there were some attempts to limit the power of the King. These were successfully rebuffed, by citing the frequent references in the ancient documents to the divine right of Kings. Obviously, when the Almighty himself selected the proper individual to be king, it was feckless for ordinary mortals to challenge his wisdom.

A logical byproduct of the adoption of an absolute monarchy was the establishment of a state church. It was correctly observed, that it made little sense to suffer the disputes among various denominations, over the technical points of doctrine. Only one religion was correct, and who better to decide on religious dogma, and head the church, than the king himself?

From the political and religious sectors, the new doctrines spread to include economics. Capitalism and the free market, all economists had to agree, led to widespread waste and inefficiency. New firms kept on being established, taking on heavy infusions of cash, only to go bankrupt in the inevitable cycle of boom and bust. The obvious solution was to go back to the wisdom of the ancients, combining as many firms as possible into giant monopolies. The success of this new policy was proven, when all of the competing telephone companies were re-combined into a giant American Telephone and Telegraph Company, which was given a permanent monopoly position over the nation’s telephone sector. Millions of Americans cheered, when the restored telephone monopoly reinstated the long-valued abilities of subscribers, to learn the time and weather, via a simple phone call.

Medical science similarly benefited, aided by the discovery that the so-called “germ theory” had been concocted by the Fenwick Pharmaceutical Company in 1897, in an effort to promote the declining sales of their products. As Dr. Amadeus Foster asked, when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine, “How can people possibly believe in a germ, which they can’t see with their own eyes?” Most scholars today credit the advances made in modern medicine, to the precept taught in scientific classes at all levels, primary, secondary and university, that no matter what the theory states, if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

It is hard for many of us living today to believe that our ancestors clung so foolishly to superstition, and ignored the advanced knowledge of the past. Probably the most important thing we can teach our children, is to avoid the error of discarding past beliefs for whatever fad achieves temporary popularity.

THE WASHINGTON SPRING

It all began in Washington, D.C., in the capitol of what was once the most powerful nation on the globe. As with so many important movements in history, the incident causing it was quite trivial. Jonathan Smith, a twenty-seven year old “yuppie”, working as a deputy assistant to a section chief at the Treasury Department, returned home to his efficiency apartment, in the prestigious northwest area of Washington, and found a letter from the Civil Service Office stuck in among the advertisements in his letter box.

Opening the envelope, Smith found it contained a notification that his monthly paycheck had been increased by twenty-three percent,; three percent as his annual in-grade step increase, seven percent for a merit pay bonus, and thirteen percent to cover an increase in the annual rate of inflation; the official figures having been carefully adjusted to disguise the fact that the real rate of inflation was more than double that. This good news, regrettably, was more than counter-balanced by a fort-seven percent reduction in his net pay. This depressing result, according to the Civil Service Office, stemmed from a ten percent increase in the annual tax rate, a twenty-three percent increase in his cost for mandatory life insurance, and fourteen percent surtax to cover the medical insurance made available to individuals who could not otherwise pay for it.

Smith gulped as he read the notice. This was the fourth year in a row that his net salary had actually gone down from the year before. As an intelligent man, he reached the logical conclusion. His life would only become worse. There was only one possible solution - suicide. Turning to the conventional methods of doing away with oneself, Smith carefully considered poison, hanging, and slitting his wrists. None of these seemed attractive. All were distinctly unpleasant.

Having an inventive mind, Smith found the perfect solution. The next morning, he visited four of the public health clinics in Washington that dispensed heroine in small doses to addicts, under a plan to gently wean them off the drug. By slightly disguising his appearance at each clinic, he was successful in obtaining doses at all four clinics. He then returned to his apartment, and settled down to expire. As he had never before used the narcotic, or any dangerous drug, the result was foregone.

What would otherwise have resulted in no more than a brief notice on the obituary page, was drastically altered by Smith’s careful preparations before the deed. Not only did he mail letters to all major newspapers in the northeast describing his dilemma and his solution, but he also prepared a movie for you tube, in which he discussed his situation at length. All four of the TV networks immediately seized the opportunity for a human interest story in their nightly news shows, three of them going so far as to omit coverage of the ongoing civil war in Syria, so as to expand their coverage of Smith’s tragic suicide.

Nationwide, the popular response to the story of Smith’s fate was immediate. Many individuals tied yellow ribbons on their fence posts, and letter boxes as memorials. Men wore yellow ties, women yellow scarves. Some yuppies, identifying themselves with Smith, likewise committed suicide. A few, however, recognizing that suicide was a permanent step, elected instead to resort to looting. This was not only better at relieving their inner tensions, but also could be monetarily advantageous.

Being yuppies, most of the looters were selective in what they chose to loot. Few stores had imported bottled water in their windows, and imported handbags were of little use if the color was not right. Therefore, they began to think of a more satisfactory method of displaying their outrage at the way American culture had declined in recent decades, and hopefully, of effecting a change.

The defining moment came in early April. George Burrows, a youngish economist at the Commerce Department, walked to Lafayette Square Park, just across from the White House, climbed on to a park bench, and began speaking. Other government staffers, also crossing the park on their way homeward, saw him and began to listen to his words. Burrows excoriated the U.S. government for the widespread favoritism, corruption, and duplicity. But his harshest words were directed at the way of life of the average American. He called upon men to shave off their beards, to cut their hair only in the crew cut style familiar to Marine Corps, and to dress only in three-piece suits, with starched white shirts, and striped ties. Women, he demanded, should raise the hem of their skirts to a minimum of six inches above the knee.

Burrows’ revolutionary message spread across the country, and many heeded him. Hundreds of his followers camped permanently in Lafayette Square, living in tents and parading along Pennsylvania Avenue with signs, calling upon the government to resign. All of this was widely covered by television, which helped the movement to spread. Social media and the internet fostered the revolution abroad, first in Canada, and Great Britain, but subsequently in places as distant as Tibet and Bulgaria. Burrows’ followers, of course, could always be identified by their revolutionary style of dress, as prescribed by Burrows.

The aftermath of the events in Washington that Spring, was initially peaceful. Not all of those involved in the movement, however, shunned violence to accomplish their aims. Clandestine groups formed and began to obtain arms. They were not united under a central organization, but cooperated in working for a common purpose. Most of them adopted the umbrella name of United Servants of America, customarily abbreviated to USA, which evoked feelings of patriotic loyalty among its adherents.

Washington, and virtually all other governments around the world ignored the growing danger, regarding it as a temporary phenomenon. The potential threat of USA become apparent a few months later, when a private yacht approached the coast of Morocco, and brought a small force of USA’s. Most of the thirty odd revolutionaries were from the United States, but their number included volunteers from Canada, Great Britain, Norway, and Brazil. All the men were dressed in their uniforms, three piece suits, white dress shirts, and striped ties. The three women among them wore the short skirts demanded by their ideology.

BOOK: STRANGE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OMNIBUS
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