Philip K Dick's "The Variable Man" (novella, war, free): A mechanical genius against a machine worshiper
Story summary.It's mostly a contrast of two men:
- Security Commissioner Reinhart, a warmonger in a position of power around mid twenty-second century. This is an era where few people understand machines, though the world is full of them; too much specialization. Reinhart practically worships "SRB computer" - a machine that can analyze very complex situations & make statistical predictions of likely near future outcomes.
- Thomas Cole, a mechanical genius from early twentieth century who has been transported to Reinhart's world because of an official's carelessness with a time machine. His presence in this future time has made SRB computer go bonkers - he's a variable about whom machine knows nothing. It was predicting Terra's victory if it raided Proxima Centauri; now it's refusing to say anything. To take this variable from the past (hence title) off the machine's considerations - to fix the machine, so to say - Reinhart wants Cole killed!
- Robert Heinlein's "Misfit": Another story about a mechanical genius.
- Murray F Yaco's "No Moving Parts" (download) & "Unspecialist" (download): Not very closely related to this, but something is similar, if I recall correctly: a mechanical genius or something, in a world too set in its fixed ways of doing things. Former is funny too.
Fact sheet.First published: Space Science Fiction (British edition), July 1953. (Wikipedia says it was "sold by Philip K. Dick before he had an agent", but doesn't give date of this self publication.)
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Related: Stories of Philip K Dick.