Arthur C Clarke's "A Slight Case of Sunstroke" aka "The Stroke of the Sun" (short story, free): An innocent murder weapon
Story summary.Set in Hasta la Vista, the capital of a hypothetical country named Perivia in South America. Citizens are football crazy, country is extremely corrupt, & the government is unstable. By the end of the story, we will see a murder & a bloodless military coup, but the story is mostly about an international football match with the neighboring country named Panagura.
Except for obvious & expected corruption on the field, the scene could well have been of an India/Pakistan cricket ODI in Calcutta. Very large crowds, a bit too enthusiatic, & with a dash of patriotism linked to game.
Referee is chosen by visitors, & is expected to be corrupt & partial!
Don Hernando is a wheeler-dealer supposed to be close to President Ruiz, & has his own game in mind. He secures half the seats in the stadium for army men who will be handed free tickets to the game; by the time the game is over, President would have been toppled. The army men spectators are each given a 2 square feet mirror to shine on the referee - as a novel way of booing him. When a signal sounds, they would do it together.
Only Don has an idea of what will happen to the man who receives the entire sunlight shining on half the stadium - he gets cremated alive! Referee receives this treatment after a particularly partial decision.
- This story is a variation of Archimedes' "Burning Glass" apparatus. Picture on this page shows a version of this apparatus used in a modern test.
- A discussion of the plausibility of the idea in this story.
- According to a news report, concave glass facade of an under construction building in London is "melting vehicles" parked nearby by concentrating sunlight there. [via Swift@CosmoQuest]
Fact sheet.First published: Galaxy, September 1958 under the title "The Stroke of the Sun".
Download full text as part of the magazine it originally appeared in.
Related: Stories of Arthur Clarke.