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Joy Ride   By:

Joy Ride by Mark Meadows

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction December 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

joy ride


Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS

Men or machines something had to give though not necessarily one or the other. Why not both?

(HISTORIAN'S NOTE: The following statements are extracted from depositions taken by the Commission of Formal Inquiry appointed by the Peloric Rehabilitation Council, a body formed as a provisional government in the third month of the Calamity .)


My name is Andrews, third assistant vice president in charge of maintenance for Cybernetic Publishers.

It is not generally known that all the periodical publications for the world were put out by Cybernetics. We did not conceal the monopoly deliberately, but we found that using the names of other publishing houses helped to give our magazines an impression of variety. Of course, we didn't want too much variety, either; only the tried and tested kind.

Cybernetics gained its monopoly by cutting costs of production. It had succeeded in linking electronic calculators to photo copying machines. Through this combination, all kinds of texts and illustrations could be produced automatically.

Formula punch cards, fed to the calculators, produced articles and stories of standard styles and substance. Market analysts in the research division designed the formulas for the punch cards. An editing machine shuffled the cards before giving them to the calculating machines.

The shuffling produced enough variation in the final product to suggest novelty to the reader without actually presenting anything strange or unexpected.

Once the cards were in the machine, they set off electronic impulses which, by a scanning process, projected photographic images of type and illustrations to a ribbon of paper. This ribbon ran through a battery of xerographic machines to reproduce the exact number of copies specified by the market indicator.

Everything worked smoothly without the necessity for thought, which, as you know, is expensive and often wasteful.

In the second week of the Calamity, one machine after another seemed to go put of order. I couldn't tell whether the trouble was in the cards, in the research office, or in the machines.

First, one produced something entitled "A Critique of the Bureaucratic Culture Pattern." Then another would give out nothing but lyric poems. A third simply printed obvious gibberish, the letters F R E E D O M. And one of our oldest machines ran off a series of limericks of a decidedly pungent flavor.

I did all I could to straighten them out. Even our cleaning compounds were analyzed for traces of alcohol. But we weren't able to locate the trouble. And we didn't dare shut off the power because that would have backed up our continuous stream of pulp and paper all the way to Canada, Alaska and Scandinavia. There didn't seem to be anything to do but let the publications go on through to the distribution center.

Before they were returned to the pulp mills, some of the publications reached private hands and created something of a stir, especially the limericks. One of them went something like this: "There was a young...." (Passage defaced.)


My name is Minton, traffic officer emeritus on the Extrapolated Parkway.

The Parkway was equipped with the usual electronic controls to propel cars magnetically, to maintain a safe distance between all cars, and to hold them automatically in their proper lanes. The controls also turned cars off the Parkways at the proper exit, according to the settings on the individual automobile's direction finder.

On the ninth day of the Calamity, the controls became erratic. Cars ran off the highway at the wrong exits, even though their direction finders seemed to be in good order... Continue reading book >>

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