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The Unnecessary Man   By: (1927-1987)

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Sometimes an organizational setup grows, sets its ways, and becomes so traditional that once necessary jobs become unnecessary. But it is sometimes quite hard to spot just which man is the unnecessary one. In this case ... not the one you think!

Illustrated by Martinez

"I recall," said the Businessman, "that William Wrigley, Junior, once said: 'When two men in a business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.' How true that is."

The Philosopher cast his eyes toward Heaven. "O God! The Mercantile Mind!" He looked back at the Businessman. "When two men in a business always agree, one of them will come in handy as a scapegoat."

THE IDLE WORSHIPERS by R. Phillip Dachboden


Lord Barrick Sorban, Colonel, H.I.M.O.G., Ret., sipped gently at his drink and looked mildly at the sheaf of newsfacsimile that he'd just bought fresh from the reproducer in the lobby of the Royal Hotel. Sorban did not look like a man of action; he certainly did not look like a retired colonel of His Imperial Majesty's Own Guard. The most likely reason for this was that he was neither.

Not that he was incapable of action on a physical level if it became necessary; he was past forty, but his tough, hard body was in as fine a shape as it had been fifteen years before, and his reflexes had slowed only slightly. The only major change that had occurred in his body during that time had been the replacement of an irreparably damaged left hand by a prosthetic.

But Lord Barrick Sorban preferred to use his mind, to initiate action in others rather than himself, and his face showed it. His was a precision mind, capable of fast, accurate computations, and his eyes betrayed the fact, but the rest of his face looked, if anything, rather like that of a gentle, persuasive schoolteacher the type whom children love and parents admire and both obey.

Nor was he a retired colonel of the Imperial bodyguard, except on paper. According to the official records, he had been retired for medical reasons the missing left hand. In reality, his position in the Imperium was a great deal higher than that of an ordinary colonel, and he was still in the active service of the Emperor. It was a secret known only to a comparative few, and one that was carefully guarded.

He was a fairly tall man, as an Imperial Guardsman had to be, with a finely shaped head and dark hair that was shot through with a single streak of gray from an old burn wound. In an officer's uniform, he looked impressive, but in civilian dress he looked like a competent businessman.

He held the newsfac in his prosthetic left hand, which was indistinguishable in appearance and in ordinary usage from the flesh, bone, and blood that it had replaced. Indeed, the right hand, with its stiff little finger, often appeared to be more useless than the left. The hand, holding the glass of rye and ginger, gave an impression of over daintiness because of that stiff digit.

Lord Sorban paid little attention to the other customers in the bar; customers of the Green Room of the Royal Hotel weren't the noisy kind, anyway. He kept his attention on the newsfac for the most part; only a small amount of awareness was reserved for the approach of the man he was waiting for.

The banner line on the newsfac said:


He read through the article hurriedly, absorbing what facts he didn't know, and then flipped over to the editorial page. If he knew the Globe , there would sure as Space be an editorial.

There was.

At 0231 Greenwich Earth Time, 3/37/229, the forces of the Imperial Government occupied the planet Bairnvell. (See article, Page One.) The ships of the Imperial Space Force landed, purportedly at the request of Obar Del Pargon, rebel leader of the anti Presidential forces... Continue reading book >>

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