Keith Laumer, well-known for his tales of adventureand action, shows us a different side of his talentin this original, exciting and thought-provokingexploration of the meaning of meaning.
individual voices now, an occasional word above the hubbub. He started to hurry, eager to find someone to talk to.
Abruptly the voices--hundreds of voices, he thought--rose in a roar, a long-drawn Yaaayyyyy...! Brett thought of a stadium crowd as the home team trotted onto the field. He could hear a band now, a shrilling of brass, the clatter and thump of percussion instruments. Now he could see the mouth of the alley ahead, a sunny street hung with bunting, the backs of people, and over their heads the rhythmic bobbing of a passing procession, tall shakos and guidons in almost-even rows. Two tall poles with a streamer between them swung into view. He caught a glimpse of tall red letters:
... For Our Side!
* * *
He moved closer, edged up behind the grey-backed crowd. A phalanx of yellow-tuniced men approached, walking stiffly, fez tassels swinging. A small boy darted out into the street, loped along at their side. The music screeched and wheezed. Brett tapped the man before him.
An interesting story for no other reason than it's different from anything else I've put my hands on. It's not sci-fi, strictly speaking, but treads on that territory as the story gets closer to the end.
I only rated it 3 stars because the ending is pointless and meaningless. I was really let down after the excellent buildup.
Brett leaves his hometown to see the world, but, no sooner than he can free himself from a train rest room with a stuck door, he discovers that he can't find it. The world is missing.
A clever story that leaves lots unexplained, but illustrates the advantages of the twin virtues of paranoia and not making waves.