Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ray Bradbury's "The Irritated People" (short story, humor, free): In a war of nerves, attack the enemy's vanity

Illustration accompanying the short story The Irritated People by Ray Bradbury in 1953 anthology Wonder Story Annual, Vol 2 No 1, edited by Samuel Mines. Image shows Katrina, wife of General Krauss, personal representative of Bruegher, looking up herself in mirror - worried about her fast falling hairVery funny story that enlarges the scope to international level of a kind of fight often seen among children & sometimes among neighbors.

That makes it sound silly, & determined my initial reaction to it. But countries can behave silly, like the last fortnight's spat between India & Pakistan: privately owned Indian cricket teams for a forthcoming domestic tournament don't hire any Pakistani players during player auctions, & Pakistani government feels "insulted", & India's ministers have to express opinions on the subject! Grow up guys - why the hell does a government, let alone two of them, need to get involved in this?

But I'm digressing. Or may be not. This story is about precisely this kind of governmental idiocy.

Story summary.

"World Organization" is like a world police. They've disarmed the states, & are powerful enough to keep them disarmed.

That's when US initiates a war against Tri-Union, some sort of confederation in Europe. No weapons are used. The idea is to only irritate others. Like (in pre-visa era!) take hundreds of thousands of picnickers to other party's parks & leave back junk. Or throw junk on their streets.

Of course, there is retaliation. And counter-retaliation... eventually truce.

See also.

  1. Harlan Ellison's '"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman' ; download comic book adaptation: Another story where a joker irritates a large number of people by dropping harmless stuff on public places to make a point.

Collected in.

  1. Samuel Mines (ed)'s "Wonder Story Annual", Vol 2 No 1 (1953 Edition)".

Fact sheet.

First published: Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1947.
Download full text as part of scans of the magazine where it originally appeared, or as part of scans of this anthology.
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of Ray Bradbury.