In any status-hungry culture, the level a man is assigned depends on what people think he is—not on what he is. And that, of course, means that only the deliberately phony has real status!
s, sir. A very dashing mustache."
Joe said sourly, "You think that's all I need to hit the big time. A dashing mustache, eh?"
"No," Freddy Soligen said, very slowly and evenly. "We're also going to need every bit of stock you've accumulated, major. We're going to have to buy your way into the columns of the fracas buff magazine. We're going to have to bribe my colleagues, the Telly camera crews, to keep you on lens when you're looking good, and, more important still, off it when you're not. We're going to have to spend every credit you've got."
"I see," Joe said. "And when it's all been accomplished, what do you get out of this, Freddy?"
Freddy Soligen laid it on the line. "When it's all been accomplished, you'll be an Upper. I'm ambitious, too, Joe. Just as ambitious as you are. I need an In. You'll be it. I'll make you. I have the know-how. I can do it. When you're made, you'll make me."
When Major Mauser, escorting Dr. Nadine Haer, daughter of the late
The Frigid Fracas is what the Cold War evolved into. A strange story, both dated and futuristic. The Communist East and the Capitalist West each ended up feeding their people, and both societies stratified into a caste system of the hereditary wealthy, the useful, and the huge mass of everyone else who just exist, drug themselves, and watch the entertainments.
Maj.Joe Mauser is a mercenary who fights in the pre-arranged battles (with real killing) to settle disputes between corporations. They are televised as entertainment. He is ambitious and has already moved from the Low caste to the Middle, but he loves an Upper, and to gain status he has to become a "personality" in the fracas programs--to be noticed and made a hero. His plans go awry.
Then the story shifts and becomes a plot to overthrow the caste system. It's almost a story in itself.
The writing is good, nothing is too outlandish, and the characters are fairly realistic.
An entertaining read. One of the better stories on this site, though not so nearly perfect in its implementation. A little quick on the ending, but worth the time, nonetheless.
Fast-moving blend of satire and social commentary, military action and espionage, as only Mack Reynolds could do it.