Monday, January 31, 2011

Short Story Sunday Jan. 30, 2011

Back in the seventies, Gordon R. Dickson's The Childe Cycle was another one of my favorite series.  The Cycle would consist of historical, mainstream, and science fiction novels.  

During my teen years, Dickson's Dorsai novels (the science fiction part of the Cycle) were ones I looked for.  I fondly remember reading Dorsai! and Soldier, Ask Not.  When new stories would appear, it was big news.  I have not returned to the series since I first read them.  Somehow, I missed this story.  It was one of the first times that Dickson wrote about the Dorsai.  Most people thought the Dorsai stories were military science fiction.  Dickson stressed that the Dorsai were not men of the military but men of war.  At the heart of the series is the conflict between the different traits of humanity (courage, faith, and philosophy).  Dickson was a master at creating and developing interesting characters.  I plan on reviewing the Cycle starting with this early story.

The series consists of the following novels:
Soldier, Ask Not
Tactics of Mistake
The Final Encyclopedia
The Chantry Guild
Young Bleys

and the following short stories:
"Lost Dorsai"
"Amanda Morgan"

The final novel (Childe) was not completed at the time of Dickson's death. 

"Act of Creation" by Gordon R. Dickson
First Printing:  Satellite Science Fiction, 1957

Commandant Jiel of the Dorsai must travel to Earth to tell a father about the death of his son.  The father is the creator of the robots used by the military.  When he developed them, his plan was to use them to make life better for humanity.  Then the military stepped in.

When he arrives on Earth, he is greeted by a robot.  It does not bother him but the natives have a different opinion.  Robots are not welcome on Earth.  The natives view the robots as inventions who stole their jobs.

This is similar to the views of the Earth people in Isaac Asimov's "The Caves of Steel".  I wonder if Dickson read Asimov's story and liked the background he developed.

The story becomes the tale of the father.  The meeting between the two main characters turns into a touching interchange.  Dickson does a good job with revealing what the father is like through his talk with the Commandant.

Highly recommended.  This one is different from the rest of the series but makes for a good short story.

1 comment:

Carl V. said...

Yet more stuff that I haven't read which sounds too good not to add to my pile! Great review, Jim. Just enough to whet the appetite.