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But, I Don't Think   By: (1927-1987)

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BUT, I DON'T THINK

BY RANDALL GARRETT

As every thinking man knows, every slave always yearns for the freedom his master denies him...

" But, gentlemen," said the Physician, "I really don't think we can consider any religion which has human sacrifice as an integral part as a humane religion. "

" At least," added the Painter with a chuckle, "not as far as the victim is concerned. "

The Philosopher looked irritated. "Bosh! What if the victim likes it that way? "

THE IDLE WORSHIPERS by R. Phillip Dachboden

I

The great merchantship Naipor settled her tens of thousands of tons of mass into her landing cradle on Viornis as gently as an egg being settled into an egg crate, and almost as silently. Then, as the antigravs were cut off, there was a vast, metallic sighing as the gigantic structure of the cradle itself took over the load of holding the ship in her hydraulic bath.

At that point, the ship was officially groundside, and the Naipor was in the hands of the ground officers. Space Captain Humbolt Reed sighed, leaned back in his desk chair, reached out a hand, and casually touched a trio of sensitized spots on the surface of his desk.

"Have High Lieutenant Blyke bring The Guesser to my office immediately," he said, in a voice that was obviously accustomed to giving orders that would be obeyed.

Then he took his fingers off the spots without waiting for an answer.

In another part of the ship, in his quarters near the Fire Control Section, sat the man known as The Guesser. He had a name, of course, a regular name, like everyone else; it was down on the ship's books and in the Main Registry. But he almost never used it; he hardly ever even thought of it. For twenty of his thirty five years of life, he had been a trained Guesser, and for fifteen of them he'd been The Guesser of Naipor .

He was fairly imposing looking for a Guesser; he had the tall, wide shouldered build and the blocky face of an Executive, and his father had been worried that he wouldn't show the capabilities of a Guesser, while his mother had secretly hoped that he might actually become an Executive. Fortunately for The Guesser, they had both been wrong.

He was not only a Guesser, but a first class predictor, and he showed impatience with those of his underlings who failed to use their ability in any particular. At the moment of the ship's landing, he was engaged in verbally burning the ears off Kraybo, the young man who would presumably take over The Guesser's job one day if he ever learned how to handle it.

"You're either a liar or an idiot," said The Guesser harshly, "and I wish to eternity I knew which!"

Kraybo, standing at attention, merely swallowed and said nothing. He had felt the back of The Guesser's hand too often before to expose himself intentionally to its swing again.

The Guesser narrowed his eyes and tried to see what was going on in Kraybo's mind.

"Look here, Kraybo," he said after a moment, "that one single Misfit ship got close enough to do us some damage. It has endangered the life of the Naipor and the lives of her crewmen. You were on the board in that quadrant of the ship, and you let it get in too close. The records show that you mis aimed one of your blasts. Now, what I want to know is this: were you really guessing or were you following the computer too closely?"

"I was following the computer," said Kraybo, in a slightly wavering voice. "I'm sorry for the error, sir; it won't happen again."

The Guesser's voice almost became a snarl. "It hadn't better! You know that a computer is only to feed you data and estimate probabilities on the courses of attacking ships; you're not supposed to think they can predict!"

"I know, sir; I just "

"You just near came getting us all killed!" snapped The Guesser. "You claim that you actually guessed where that ship was going to be, but you followed the computer's extrapolation instead?"

"Yes, sir," said the tense faced Kraybo... Continue reading book >>




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