Every status-quo-caste society in history has left open two roads to rise above your caste: The Priest and The Warrior. But in a society of TV and tranquilizers--the Warrior acquires a strange new meaning....
them. Our only alternative is unconditional surrender, and you know what that means."
"It means our family would probably be forced from control of the firm," the older man growled. "But nobody has suggested surrender on any terms. Nobody, thus far." He glared at his officer son who took it with an easy shrug and swung a leg over the edge of his father's desk in the way of a seat.
Joe Mauser found a chair and lowered himself into it. Evidently, the foppish Balt Haer had no illusions about the spot his father had got the family corporation into. And the younger man was right, of course.
But the Baron wasn't blind to reality any more than he was a coward. He dismissed Balt Haer's defeatism from his mind and came back to Joe Mauser. "As I say, you're the only officer recruit today. Why?"
Joe said evenly, "I wouldn't know, sir. Perhaps freelance Category Military men are occupied elsewhere. There's always a shortage of trained officers."
Baron Haer was waggling a finger negative
A pretty good story, but with a let-down ending. A talented, but luckless, man makes his best effort to move upward in his utopian/dystopian society.
An interesting read, but with quite a bit of social commentary thrown in unnecessarily.
It's one of a series Reynolds did under the general title "Frigid Fracas". The US and the Soviet bloc have recognized common interests and become much like each other. A world peace has been imposed, and weapons development strictly limited.
The US has what is called "People's Capitalism", with everyone issued Basic shares at birth and able to earn Variable shares in various manners. The social structure has stratified into Lowers, Middles, and Uppers based on shares held.
The protagonist is a Major in Category Military, hiring out to fight in various clashes. Corporations which cannot resolve differences by other means hire mercenary troops to fight for them. Combat is restricted to use of weapons designed before 1900, and the clashes are televised for the entertainment of the masses.
Interesting SF novellette; the author predicts a capitalist society with formalized corporate warfare that are a worldwide TV hit. I doubt it, as warfware, regardless of technology, is too complicated for the masses (even soccer is sometimes). Surprise ending.