Despite Mr. Shakespeare, wealth and name are both dross compared with the theft of hope-- and Maxwell had to rob a whole planet of it!
"But, Rod, I've been waiting to hear what he's found out ever since he went away," Fawzi protested in a hurt tone.
Brangwyn and Colonel Zareff joined them. They were close friends, probably because neither of them was a native of Poictesme.
The town marshal had always been reticent about his origins, but Conn guessed it was Hathor. Brangwyn's heavy-muscled body, and his ease and grace in handling it, marked him as a man of a high-gravity planet. Besides, Hathor had a permanent cloud-envelope, and Tom Brangwyn's skin had turned boiled-lobster red under the dim orange sunlight of Alpha Gartner.
Old Klem Zareff never hesitated to tell anybody where he came from--he was from Ashmodai, one of the System States planets, and he had commanded a division that had been blasted down to about regimental strength, in the Alliance army.
"Hello, boy," he croaked, extending a trembling hand. "Glad you're home. We all missed you."
"We sure did, Conn," the town marshal agreed, clasping Conn's
This is a novelette set in Piper's "Federation" universe, which was also the setting for his classic "Little Fuzzy". It was expanded to novel length and published as "The Cosmic Computer" and "Junkyard Planet".
Conn Maxwell is the son of Rod Maxwell, a prominent planter on the planet Poictesme. Poictesme is economically depressed, and Conn has been sent to school on distant Terra.
Decades before the story takes place, the Federation had fought a war with the secessionist System States Alliance, and Poictesme had been a major advance base. An assortment of folks on Poictesme prospect for abandoned Federation supply dumps to salvage and resell the equipment. There have been rumors for many years that the Federation built and installed a super computer somewhere on Poictesme that was used to help manage the war, and many dream that if they find it, it can provide the answers to lift Poictesme out of economic stagnation and decline and make it a prosperous place again. Part of the reason Conn was sent to school on Terra was to gather information to aid that search.
Conn has returned home, and the search for the super computer is on, but what will the results be if it is found? The answers it can provide may not be those the searchers hope to hear.
It really is a good story "if you don't like reading large books." If you do, "The Cosmic Computer" is an extension of the same story to novel length; or what passed for "novel" length in those days, when only Heinlein could get anything over 180 pages published! It's also interesting to see how far our conceptions of what's possible has changed in so short a time. They had a faster-than-light drive and anti-gravity (!) but a computer that a modern science fiction writer would put in a refrigerator-sized box was thought to be the size of a planet!
it is really good a must read if you dont like reading large books
Really good for a sci-fi short story. Well written and interesting.