The trouble with great ideas is that someone is sure to expend enormous effort and ingenuity figuring out how to louse them up.
e to the participants. They can alleviate their tensions safely--without damage of any sort to anyone, and without hurting society.
"Your own Government tested one of the machines and approved its use on Acquatainia more than three years ago. I see several of you who were among those to whom I personally demonstrated the device. Duelling machines are in use through wide portions of the galaxy, and I am certain that many of you have used the machine. You have, general, I'm sure."
The general blustered. "That has nothing to do with the matter at hand!"
"Admittedly," Leoh conceded. "But I do not understand how a therapeutic machine can possibly become entangled in a political crisis."
Massan said: "Allow me to explain. Our Government has been conducting extremely delicate negotiations with the stellar governments of our neighboring territories. These negotiations concern the rearmaments of the Kerak Worlds. You have heard of Kanus of Kerak?"
"I recall the
A professor "cures" aggression by inventing a dueling machine--a cyberspace place for enemies to meet and fight to the death. But nobody is supposed to really die. When the champion of a murderous dictator begins killing politicians in the dueling machine, the fate of star systems hangs in the balance.
Okay, it's a little overblown, but the novella is well-plotted, and the characters have real personalities.
This is the Analog magazine version of the Dueling Machine, the third and last of Ben Bova's Star Watch stories after Star Conquerers and Star Watchman, so be warned that this free edition contains only the first half of the retail version of The Dueling Machine, ending immediately after Hector and Odal's first duel.
The back story borrows liberally from that of Hitler's rise to power in Nazi Germany, with the Acquataine Cluster and Terran Federation lining up as France and the US respectively, but the story itself is fresh, vibrant and fast moving with memorable scenes and characterizations throughout, Massan's duel being particularly chilling and a scene I remembered vividly from early in my teen years. A classic of juvenile science fiction, and the second half of the story is well worth tracking down in the real world once you are finished with this.