Interstellar Patrol

I’ve started reading Interstellar Patrol, a collection of short stories by Christopher Anvil. I’ve enjoyed some of his other writing – always with a humorous twist. The first story raised an interesting question about human nature. The main characters create a device that can create wants in persons – a desire for improvement, for learning, for success, and so on…

What is interesting is that in attempting to manipulate the population of their planet, each attempt to control them by improving their desires backfires – a desire for success leads to a desire to succeed in overthrowing the government, a desire to learn can’t define the goal of learning (and the population is remarkably, shall we say, creative). The story doesn’t explain the problem, but it is certainly consistent with a Christian understanding of depravity. Every desire can be (and is) distorted and turned in the wrong direction. The morality of manipulating the populace is not dealt with either (though David Webber in his introduction alludes to his discomfort with the notion).

It seems like a good holiday read.


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