The Science Fiction Omnibus #1 by Various

The Science Fiction Omnibus #1 by Various

Author:Various [Various]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Serapis Classics
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

* * *

THE YOUNGER man stared at him with the strange puzzled look Giles had seen too often lately. “Damn it, haven’t you read my report? We know the super-light drive works! That missile reached Sirius in less than ten days. We can have the secret of this antigravity in less than a year! We—”

“Wait a minute.” Giles felt the thickness pushing back at his mind and tried to fight it off. He’d only skimmed the report, but this made no sense. “You mean you can calibrate your guiding devices accurately enough to get a missile where you want it and back?”

“What? ” Jordan’s voice rattled the speaker. “Of course not! It took two accidents to get the thing back to us—and with a half-light-year miss that delayed it about twenty years before the Procyon shuttle heard its signal. Pre-setting a course may take centuries, if we can ever master it. Even with Sirius expecting the missiles and ready to cooperate. I mean the big ship. We’ve had it drafted for building long enough; now we can finish it in three months. We know the drive works. We know it’s fast enough to reach Procyon in two weeks. We even know life can stand the trip. The rats were unharmed.”

Giles shook his head at what the other was proposing, only partly believing it. “Rats don’t have minds that could show any real damage such as the loss of power to rejuvenate. We can’t put human pilots into a ship with our drive until we’ve tested it more thoroughly, Bill, even if they could correct for errors on arrival. Maybe if we put in stronger signaling transmitters....”

“Yeah. Maybe in two centuries we’d have a through route charted to Sirius. And we still wouldn’t have proved it safe for human pilots. Mr. Giles, we’ve got to have the big ship. All we need is one volunteer!”

It occurred to Giles then that the man had been too fired with the idea to think. He leaned back, shaking his head again wearily. “All right, Bill. Find me one volunteer. Or how about you? Do you really want to risk losing the rest of your life rather than waiting a couple more centuries until we know it’s safe? If you do, I’ll order the big ship.”

Jordan opened his mouth and for a second Giles’ heart caught in a flux of emotions as the man’s offer hovered on his lips. Then the engineer shut his mouth slowly. The belligerence ran out of him.

He looked sick, for he had no answer.


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