While it's neither as enlightening nor humorous as promised by great opening, it made a light reading & is rather short.
Story summary.Meat of the story is the conversation between two military bosses - of US & USSR. Neither side is explicitly named, but the sides involved are obvious. The two meet during a summit get together of the two sides.
It's mostly about how the vested interests on both sides guarantee an environment of war, & won't let peace happen.
Science fictional element is provided by an unnecessary extension at end that says Mars & venus are each occupied by US/USSR, & that earth was destroyed in bombings sometime past. Story could very well have stood without this extension & science fictionalization.
Quotes.Story offers some interesting quotes:
- "Almost anything, if it goes on long enough, can be reduced to, first a Routine, and then, to a Tradition. And at the point it is, obviously, Necessary."
- "I was raised in a family that believed in God. Just as, I suppose, you were raised in one that didn't. Neither of us seems to be particularly brilliant in establishing a position of our own."
- "Have you ever noticed how it is that the nonconformists in any society are usually crackpots?"
- "Defense materials. I wonder if ever in the history of the human race anyone ever admitted to producing offense materials."
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding Science Fiction, February 1960.
Author's real name: Dallas McCord Reynolds.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg.
Listed among the stories from Campbell's Astounding/Analog.
Related: All stories about US/USSR Cold War.