Now this is an example of a great science fiction short story. Cordwainer (Paul Linebarger) Smith was one of the best writers the field had to offer. When you read his fiction, it becomes obvious that he influenced later writers such as Roger Zelazny. Some of the same themes and ideas that layed the groundwork for Smith also appear in Zelazny's fiction. This is most evident in the naming of characters, the classic fiction characters, and the blending of fantastic elements with the more mundane modern settings. Another author whose fiction shows ties to Smith's is George R. R. Martin. Especially in his early science fiction stories. The way the characters persevere in the face of their inevitable fates is a trademark of both writers. Take "No, No, Not Rogov" as an example.
The prologue describes events in the year A. D. 13,582. It shows us events that do not appear to connect with the rest of the story until the end. The majority of the story takes place in the 1940s and features a team of Soviet scientists. Rogov is the top scientist. His wife Anastasia is a brilliant scientist in her own right. They are working on at top secret project. The only other people with them are 2 security guards. The female guard is secretly in love with Rogov and resents his wife. This is the story of the project and what happens when they are successful. The life of Rogov and the characters who inhabit his world is an example of how dedication can inspire people to achieve great things.
Modern writers would learn a lot by going back and rereading Smith's short stories.
Rating: 10 out of 10.
This story is available on line by clicking here.
For more information on Cordwainer Smith go to cordwainer-smith.com.