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Subjectivity   By: (1940-)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction January 1964. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


Boredom on a long, interstellar trip can be quite a problem ... but the entertainment technique the government dreamed up for this one was a leeetle too good...!


Illustrated by Leo Summers

Interplanetary flight having been perfected, the planets and moons of the Sol system having been colonized, Man turned his attention to the stars.

And ran into a stone wall.

After three decades of trying, scientists reluctantly concluded that a faster than light drive was an impossibility, at least within the realm of any known theory of the Universe. They gave up.

But a government does not give up so easily, especially a unified government which already controls the entire habitat of the human race. Most especially a psychologically and sociologically enlightened government which sees the handwriting on the wall, and has already noticed the first signs of racial claustrophobia an objectless sense of frustrated rage, increases in senseless crimes, proliferation of perversions and vices of every kind. Like grape juice sealed in a bottle, the human race had begun to ferment.

Therefore, the Solar Government took a slightly different point of view towards interstellar travel Man must go to the stars. Period. Therefore, Man will go to the stars.

If the speed of light could not be exceeded, then Man would go to the stars within that limit.

When a government with tens of billions of dollars to spend becomes monomaniacal, Great Things can be accomplished. Also, unfortunately, Unspeakable Horrors.

Stage One : A drive was developed which could propel a spaceship at half the speed of light. This was merely a matter of technological concentration, and several billion dollars.

Stage Two : A ship was built around the drive, and outfitted with every conceivable safety device. A laser beam communication system was installed, so that Sol could keep in contact with the ship all the way to Centaurus. A crew of ten carefully screened, psyched and trained near supermen was selected, and the ship was launched on a sixteen year round trip to Centaurus.

It never came back.

Two years out, the ten near supermen became ten raving maniacs.

But the Solar Government did not give up. The next ship contained five near supermen, and five near superwomen.

They only lasted for a year and a half.

The Solar Government intensified the screening process. The next ship was manned by ten bona fide supermen.

They stayed sane for nearly three years.

The Solar Government sent out a ship containing five supermen and five superwomen. In two years, they had ten super lunatics.

The psychologists came to the unstartling conclusion that even the cream of humanity, in a sexually balanced crew, could not stand up psychologically to sixteen years in a small steel womb, surrounded by billions of cubic miles of nothing.

One would have expected reasonable men to have given up.

Not the Solar Government. Monomania had produced Great Things, in the form of a c/2 drive. It now proceeded to produce Unspeakable Horrors.

The cream of the race had failed, reasoned the Solar Government, therefore, we will give the dregs a chance.

The fifth ship was manned by homosexuals. They lasted only six months. A ship full of lesbians bettered that by only two weeks.

Number Seven was manned by schizophrenics. Since they were already mad, they did not go crazy. Nevertheless, they did not come back. Number Eight was catatonics. Nine was paranoids. Ten was sadists. Eleven was masochists. Twelve was a mixed crew of sadists and masochists... Continue reading book >>

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