Most useful high explosives, like ammonium nitrate, are enormously violent ... once they're triggered. But they will remain seemingly inert when beaten, burned, variously punished--until the particular shock required comes along....
ugged. "I told you," he said. "Where I come from, it's a lot colder than it is here, so I don't need a blanket. I'd have offered a swap sooner, but I didn't want to look like some greasy doormat."
"Wasn't no grease about that swap." Pete grinned and rubbed his neck again. "I found out real quick who was the big man. Where'd you learn that stuff anyway?"
"Oh, picked it up--here and there." Stan glanced down at the floor.
There would be no point in explaining the intensive close combat training he'd been put through at school. Such training would make no sense to his cellmates. To the good citizens of Kellonia, it would seem horrifyingly illegal. He glanced up again.
"You know how it is," he went on. "A guy learns as he goes."
Big Carl Marlo swung his legs over the side of his bunk.
"Looks like you learned real good," he said. He examined Stan.
"Pete tells me about this deal. I kinda miss the action this time, but Pete tells me he's got the blanket and he's all s
(1960) Sci-fi (Stellar law enforcement) / Adventure / Short story (Magazine)
From 'Astounding Science Fiction' September 1960.
R: * * *
A washout space pilot in training ends up being framed for a crime during a stopover at a planet run by corporations whose main industry is prisons. He\'s sent to prison.
What starts out as a gritty, cynical story about a corrupt society ends with a dumb, almost magical, conclusion. Splice the first two-thirds of the story onto a real ending, and you'd have a great piece.