Friday, September 5, 2008

Ernest M Kenyon's "Security" (short story, free): There are ways of circumventing the most stifling bureaucracy!

I could easily identify with the issue highlighted - data security measures within an organization that can get extremely irritating for employees. This story, however, has a sort of extreme form of it.

Story summary.

Milt Collins is a young physicist employed in government owned Fair Oaks Nuclear Energy Laboratories, & still inexperienced in the ways of circumventing bureaucracy. This is the story of his growing up pains.

While he's doing cutting edge work, he cannot publish, go to conferences, have external contact, ... Military security concerns.

Extremely dissatisfied, he confronts Dr Gordon, Division Administrator - the boss of the facility. Either I get some freedom, or I quit. Sorry, pal - can neither have freedom nor quit. Employees in possession of any information aren't allowed even to resign!

But boss does sympathize with the young man's issues, & will indirectly guide him towards circumventing the bureaucratic rules. I found the resolution not only farcical, but premised on arrogant & self-indulgent: our people are smart but enemy's aren't because "Their totalitarian training has made them inflexible in their thinking"!

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding Science Fiction, October 1955.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg (via QuasarDragon).
Rating: B
Listed among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding.