keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 123: Slade 207
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Brown 234
“You did what?” Joe exclaimed.
“You’re upset,” Slade responded. “Why?”
Joe seemed flustered, but then answered, “I--I don’t really know.”
“All Zeke did was show them his guns. I expected that you would do it, but I gather they’re not much different.”
“No, they’re pretty much the same M-15s. I think his pistol is different from mine, but not appreciably.”
“So, you weren’t going to show them yours?”
“No; absolutely not.”
“Yeah,” Zeke said, “why not? What did I do wrong?”
Joe took a deep breath, and sighed. “I don’t feel comfortable advancing their weapons systems. For one thing, weapons like ours can only really be used for warfare.”
“Self-defense,” Zeke said. “You want to have weapons equal or superior to your attacker.”
“Right,” Joe agreed. “And Slade has seen to it that these birds, whatever their national intentions, have better weapons than anyone on the planet. Giving them ours is overkill.”
“I don’t know about that,” Zeke replied. “I mean, giving them telephones and radios, these are powerful strategic weapons. Should we have drawn a line somewhere in that? I’m sure our next step is going to be television. Is that going too far? The fact is, a lot of these improvements are going to spread--or do you think that no one is going to smuggle out a revolver or photos of a Gatling gun to other countries? Once these ideas are out there, it’s going to take some effort to stay ahead of the curve.”
“Yes,” Joe said. “It’s called an arms race, and I really did not want to start one.”
“Well,” Slade said, “for what it’s worth, you didn’t. I did. Zeke may have taken it to the next step, but frankly I had already suggested weapons like his, and put them on track to developing them. He only made it easier. I think it’s good.”
“You always think war is good, Slade.”
“True, Joe, and you never do, but you do recognize that it is sometimes necessary.”
“He’s got you there, Cap’n. You wouldn’t be here now if you hadn’t agreed to lead that infantry group to Esai to fight the Copts.”
“Don’t remind me.” Joe fell silent for a moment, then continued. “I still don’t like it.”
Slade nodded. “That’s as may be,” he said, “but advancing their technology is how we pay for our accommodations here. Maybe you’d like to find another way? You could cash in your gold.”
“I don’t mind advancing their electronics. It’s the weapon systems that bother me.”
“Maybe--but their advances in electronics are going to wind up in their weapon systems eventually anyway. It’s kind of like, well, anything, really. I don’t think you object to helping develop aircraft for them, but the earliest uses of their aircraft are bound to be military despite the vast civilian applications for them. Governments use technology to improve their military abilities. We know that. We have a layer of isolation from it, because we’re working for the university, not the government, and the university is interested in whatever advances their reputation as a place to learn science and engineering, and whatever brings in money. They’ll provide stuff to the government, certainly, but they won’t do so exclusively, I expect. Our inventions are going to civilian manufacturers. Governments will buy them, might even attempt to contract them into exclusivity, limit their export, things like that, but ultimately businesses are in it for the money, not for patriotism or anything like that.”
This seemed to silence Joe.
“Who wants lunch?” Shella asked, and the group broke up, heading for food.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #452: Versers Ready. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: