Day of the Moron

Day of the Moron

By

3.75
(4 Reviews)
Day of the Moron by H. Beam Piper

Published:

1951

Pages:

39

ISBN:

1428051147

Downloads:

5,423

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Day of the Moron

By

3.75
(4 Reviews)
It's natural to trust the unproven word of the fellow who's "on my side"--but the emotional moron is on no one's side, not even his own. Once, such an emotional moron could, at worst, hurt a few. But with the mighty, leashed forces Man employs now....

Book Excerpt

talking?" he asked. "Could be. But look at this plant, here. It generates every kilowatt of current used between Trenton and Albany, the New York metropolitan area included. Except for a few little storage-battery or Diesel generator systems, that couldn't handle one tenth of one per cent of the barest minimum load, it's been the only source of electric current here since 1962, when the last coal-burning power plant was dismantled. Knock this plant out and you darken every house and office and factory and street in the area. You immobilize the elevators--think what that would mean in lower and midtown Manhattan alone. And the subways. And the new endless-belt conveyors that handle eighty per cent of the city's freight traffic. And the railroads--there aren't a dozen steam or Diesel locomotives left in the whole area. And the pump stations for water and gas and fuel oil. And seventy per cent of the space-heating is electric, now. Why, you can't imagine what it'd be like. It's too gigantic. But what you can im

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The story was a bit too didactic, for my taste. A company is building a breeder reactor, and the guy in charge of construction wants to give all the help psych tests to uncover any dangerous workers (morons) before they can do something stupid and dangerous. The labor union gets involved.

The premise is that with the centralization of power (and all utilities) the effects of careless mistakes are magnified thousands of times.

I didn't care about any of the characters, they had no substance. A couple of them were just names for the main character to talk to for a minute or so, then they vanished. The plot wasn't enough to hold my interest.
Given the year of its publication (1951), "Day of the Moron" is quite understandably inaccurate with regard to the potential for nuclear explosion in a facility such as is described, but then Piper was neither a physicist nor formally educated in any of the sciences.

As it stands, he did about the best he could. Bear in mind fiction about nuclear fission written by his contemporaries, notably Robert A. Heinlein ("Blow-Ups Happen" in 1940) and Lester del Rey ("Nerves" in 1956).

What makes "Day of the Moron" particularly memorable today is the regard in which Piper held the average working man, as a creature of marginal competence and application at best, and extremely dangerous when allowed to indulge himself in the aggressive stupidity which has - if anything - grown more pervasive and pernicious in the years since Piper's death.

I quote from his protagonist in this story:

"The moron I'm afraid of can go on for years, doing routine work under supervision, and nothing'll happen. Then, some day, he does something on his own lame-brained initiative, and when he does, it's only at the whim of whatever gods there be that the result isn't a wholesale catastrophe. And people like that are the most serious threat facing our civilization today, atomic war not excepted."