Question of the Day

I recently ran across one of my favorite science fiction short stories: "And Then There Were None." by Eric Frank Russell. It's quite a treat. I had forgotten what a craftsman of prose and wry wit Russell was. Here's a passage from when the Earth warship lands on a pioneer planet in order to claim it:
Emergence from the ship was in strict order of precedence. First, the Imperial Ambassador. Second, the battleship's captain. Third, the officer commanding the ground forces. Fourth, the senior civil servant.

Then, of course, the next grade lower, in the same order: His Excellency's private secretary, the ship's second officer, the deputy commander of troops, the penultimate pen pusher.

Down another grade, then another, until there was left only His Excellency's barber, boot wiper and valet, crew members with the lowly status of O.S. -- Ordinary Spaceman -- the military nonentities in the ranks, and a few temporary ink-pot fillers dreaming of the day when they would be made permanent and given a desk of their own. This last collection of unfortunates remained aboard to clean ship and refrain from smoking, by command.

Had this world been alien, hostile and well-armed, the order of exit would have been reversed, exemplifying the Biblical promise that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Now that's good writing.

What's your favorite science fiction short story?

Image by deviantART user Prasa used under Creative Commons license.

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