Murray Leinster's "The Mutant Weapon" (novella, biological warfare, free): Catching thieves out to steal a world
Among the better stories of Leinster, but apparently not as widely read as some of his other works.
Alice Sheldon ("James Tiptree, Jr")'s excellent Hugo winner, "The Screwfly Solution", is essentially this story, with barely enough changes to avoid the charge of plagiarism.
Idea of unusual prison in James P Hogan's "Jailhouse Rock" also appears in this much older story. I'm not aware if the idea is even older.
Story summary.Crooks have practically taken over a newly terraformed world, Maris III, from people who did the hard work & own the place - by infecting the atmosphere with an unusual & deadly organism, but for which they themselves have an antidote.
Hero, the med ship man Calhoun, will help foil their plans & restore the world to its rightful owners.
- "Paradoxes don't turn up in nature. Things that happen naturally never contradict each other. You only get such things when men try to do things that don't fit together."
- "no human action is without consequences to the man who acts... A violent action, for example, has a strong probability of violent consequences".
- "Children and barbarians have clear ideas of justice due to them, but no idea at all of justice due from them."
- "it is singularly stupid—but amazingly common—for an individual to assume human society to be passive and unreactive. He may assume that he can do what he pleases, but inevitably there is a reaction as energetic as his action, and as well-directed."
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding, August 1957.
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Related: Stories of Murray Leinster.
Listed among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog.