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Last Enemy by H. Beam Piper
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Last Enemy (1950)

by H. Beam Piper

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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Along the U-shaped table, the subdued clatter of dinnerware and
the buzz of conversation was dying out; the soft music that drifted
down from the overhead sound outlets seemed louder as the competing
noises diminished.
Quotations
Verkan Vall was sitting motionless, his face expressionless as
he ran Tortha Karf's narrative through the intricate semantic and
psychological processes of the First Level mentality. The fact that
Hadron Dalla had been a former wife of his had been relegated to
one corner of his consciousness and contained there; it was not a
fact that would, at the moment, contribute to the problem or to his
treatment of it.
You know better than that!
How many times have our people got in trouble on other time-lines
because they divulged some useful scientific fact that conflicted
with the locally revered nonsense? You show me ten men who cherish
some religious doctrine or political ideology, and I'll show you
nine men whose minds are utterly impervious to any factual evidence
which contradicts their beliefs, and who regard the producer of
such evidence as a criminal who ought to be suppressed. For
instance, on the Fourth Level Europo-American Sector, where I was
just working, there is a political sect, the Communists, who, in
the territory under their control, forbid the teaching of certain
well-established facts of genetics and heredity, because those
facts do not fit the world-picture demanded by their political
doctrines. And on the same sector, a religious sect recently tried,
in some sections successfully, to outlaw the teaching of evolution
by natural selection.
There's too
blasted much illegal assassination going on!
"Take this Fourth Level Europo-American atomic bomb, for
example. I choose that because we both know that sector, but I
could think of a hundred other examples in other paratime areas.
Those people, because of deforestation, bad agricultural methods
and general mismanagement, are eroding away their arable soil at an
alarming rate. At the same time, they are breeding like rabbits. In
other words, each successive generation has less and less food to
divide among more and more people, and, for inherited traditional
and superstitious reasons, they refuse to adopt any rational
program of birth-control and population-limitation.

"But, fortunately, they now have the atomic bomb, and they are
developing radioactive poisons, weapons of mass-effect. And their
racial, nationalistic and ideological conflicts are rapidly
reaching the explosion point. A series of all-out atomic wars is
just what that sector needs, to bring their population down to
their world's carrying capacity; in a century or so, the inventors
of the atomic bomb will be hailed as the saviors of their
species."
Last words
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 160312084X, Paperback)

The last enemy was the toughest of all -- and conquering him was in itself almost as dangerous as not conquering. For a strange pattern of beliefs can make assassination an honorable profession!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:19 -0400)

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