Short story This World Must Die! by Horace Brown Fyfe, examines the emotional and rational reactions to murder in a twenty second century space faring civilization
As I was browsing my subscribed blogs today I came across an article about expanding your reading experience by Jessica from Sci-Fi Fan Letter as a guest post on Fantasy Cafe. At the end of the post, Jessica recommended a number of short stories that are available free at ManyBooks.net. Since it’s a rainy and cold afternoon and I’ve always been a fan of short Sci-Fi stories, I decided to try out the first one listed, This World Must Die! by Horace Brown Fyfe.
Title: This World Must Die!
Author: Horace Brown Fyfe
Pages: 34 (available as almost any e-format)
Genre-ish: Classic Space Sci-Fi
Rating: ★★★★☆ - Solid read, recommended
Setting: It’s the twenty-second century and humankind has pioneered settlements on Mars, the Moon and still on Earth in addition to a number of space stations. Murder has become fiercely outlawed and even accidental murder and suicide attempts are punished with lifetime sentences in the Moon jail. This has led to most of the “normal” population being so emotional disgusted by the thought of murder that even attempting mercy killing for the good of the species (ie to kill plague ridden insane people bent on infecting Mars) causes “normal” people to black out.
Premise: As it so happens, a plague that causes insanity and a one hundred percent mortality rate has broken out on an outer colony and a ship of quarantined people has been taken over by said insane people and is making a break for Mars. If they land they will inevitably spread the plague to everyone on Mars which will inevitably spread to Earth and Venus as well. There is no cure yet and they have know idea how it is even spread. Needless to say the ship needs to be stopped for the greater good. However all the normal military people that have been sent to do this admittedly horrible task have been physically unable to. This has led the government to turn to four prisoners who committed violent crimes because they are the only ones who have any hope of actually killing this ship of plagued people.
- Very classic sci-fi in terms of spaceships and colonies and unforseen consequences to modern societies current direction
- Strong writing and the two characters that become the main focus pull you in to them even in the few short pages that you have to get to know them
- Interesting premise given the debates about the death penalty and when murder is acceptable in today’s society
- Very fast read, only took me an hour
- There is a picture in the format that I downloaded :D (I just did a pdf)
- It’s free! What have you really got to lose?
- It’s a sad premise and there is a lot of death and violence packed into the pages, as could be expected
- Because of it’s length, obviously not a lot of development could occur
- It basically ends up saying that violence is important to have in the population, and I’m not sure where I am going to end up on that internal debate (ie my head is still confused)
If you have been wanting to try out some classic Sci-Fi but don’t want a long term commitment, this is a good one-hour stand. It isn’t as strong as some of the other classic short stories I’ve read (Asimov is pretty hard to beat…) but it does bring up an interesting idea and presents it with some characters I grew fond of.