Null-ABC

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Author: H. Beam Piper
Co-author: John Joseph McGuire
Published: 1953
Language: English
Wordcount: 35,810 / 112 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 83.3
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 3,191
Added to site: 2006.05.09
mnybks.net#: 13274

There's some reaction these days that holds scientists responsible for war. Take it one step further: What happens if "book-learnin'" is held responsible...? A blackmarket in forbidden knowledge!

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the politics, and particularly the enforcement of the laws, in this state, are unbelievably corrupt, but I wonder--"

Mongery paused. "Just a moment; I see a flash bulletin being brought in." The novice Literate came to his side and gave him a slip of paper, at which he glanced. Then he laughed heartily.

"It seems that shortly after I began speaking, the local blue-ribbon grand jury issued a summons for Chief Delaney to appear before them, with all his records. Unfortunately, the summons could not be served; Chief Delaney had just boarded a strato-rocket from Tom Dewey Field for Buenos Aires." He cocked an eye at the audience. "I know Irish is going to have a nice time, down there in the springtime of the Southern Hemisphere. And, incidentally, the Argentine is one of the few major powers which never signed the World Extradition Convention of 2087." He raised his hand to his audience. "And now, until tomorrow at breakfast, sincerely yours for Cardon's Black Bottle, Elliot C. Mongery."

"We

Reviews

Average Rating of 3.3 from 3 reviews: ****
2015.12.09
Leah A. Zeldes
***..

A 1953 story on something of same theme as C.M. Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons": Post-war anti-intellectualism has put deliberate "Illiterates" in charge of the country, with stigmatized, uniformed "Literates" they hire to do the dirty work of reading and writing when absolutely necessary. Most of the Illiterates aren't unintelligent; they merely don't have book learning. Technology seems to have escaped censure, so there are plenty of machines, recording devices and other mechanisms in use by both classes.

The Literates, though deemed a necessary evil, are so hated they must go armed and with bodyguards to defend themselves. Yet they are entrusted, among other things, with medical care, reporting for news broadcasts and teaching schools for Illiterates' children.

The implications of that are obvious, and not everyone is what he seems. The action centers on an Illiterate department-store mogul who is running a senatorial campaign, his children, and the political plotting and divided loyalties among both Illiterate and Literate camps.

It's not a bad read, if you can ignore the logical fallacies, but it's far from Piper's best work, and Kornbluth handled the concept much better.


2009.03.04
Gilmartin
**...

Interesting idea but confused plot and weak characters make this a dull read.

One of the finest of Piper's works. It is a tale in which all people who read are in a high tech scribes class, and treat other people badly. A frightening tale, but hopeful


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