What would it be like to live in a world which has conquered the near planets but abolished all literature? Bill Gault gives us a look at a world like this—in a not too distant future which finds all our pressure groups united to rule the roost.
into the gentle hills. People on porches and teenagers in front of the drugstore. A reddish-brown setter padded past on some secret business of his own.
There was no whiz, no whir, no clank, no squeal, no grind. This was Dubbinville, U.S.A.
The station agent was picking up a pair of film boxes, as Doak walked over. He smiled at Doak. "Beautiful evening, isn't it?"
"It certainly is. Is there--a place to stay in town, a hotel?"
The station agent shook his head. "No hotel. But you could stay at Mrs. Klein's. She takes in boarders." He pointed with a bony forefinger. "That grey house with the blue shutters, right on the curve there."
"Thank you," Doak said. "What's the population here?"
"Around eight hundred, last census, though we had a couple families move in since then. Hasn't changed much the last hundred years."
"Retired farmers, mostly?" Doak asked.
"Mmmm, I guess. Just--people."
People.... Which meant nothing and everything. Doak had turned aw
Ray Bradbury's, The Fireman, a short story that became Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, was published 3 years before this story, and this story seems to draw from it. In a U.S. where books and newspapers have been destroyed and the printed word forbidden, Doak Parker, a government security agent, gets a lead to a nest of readers in a small town, and, even worse, they may be printing a newsletter. He goes undercover to expose the literary criminals.
A pretty good job of characterization. The plot is predictable, but the author had to flip a coin: happy? or unhappy ending?
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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