By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Science Fiction Short Story "Security" by Poul Anderson

“In a world where Security is all-important,” this story opens, “nothing can ever be secure.”

Allen Lancaster’s tough day at the lab is made tougher by a visit from the Efficiency Inspector sticking his nose in and making marks in his little notebook. Enough marks would get a man sent to “camp.” He isn’t so much worried for himself since the as sector chief he was under direct Control supervision, but he’d hate to see young Rogers get nailed. The kid has only been married for a week. And then comes the news that the design for a valve men in his sector have been working on for six months was completed by another sector—all that work for nothing!

At home, he needs some alcohol and Mozart (whose music has not yet been banned in private residences). A message comes from Security with orders to meet a Mr. Berg at the observatory. The summons makes him understandably nervous. What could Security want with him? He has nothing to with the rebels or any other undesirables.

The next day, he meets Mr. Berg among the people enjoying the afternoon at the park around the observatory being served by the Martian slaves. They need his help for a top secret project. No one, not even those at his work, can know about it. He’s to put in for his summer vacation and come with him.

The project is in space, in an area far off the plane of the ecliptic. It’s unlike any project he’s ever worked on. People share information. And there are foreigner s there, even Martians, who are accepted as social equals. Lancaster decides his likes this.

A hard sci-fi story written by a trained physicist, this presumes a little science background on the part of the reader, though it is perfectly comprehensible without it. Its strength, though, lies in its psychology and the ironic twist at the end. This is a fine story that reflects the Cold War thinking of its era. Nevertheless, it’s not without relevance for the present. It’s not a happy story, but I liked it.

Author Poul Anderson, in addition to being writer, was also a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Along with science fiction, he wrote fantasy and historical fantasy. He was the sixth President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its 16th SFWA Grand Master and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 2000.


Title: “Security” first published in Space Science Fiction Feb. 1953

Author: Poul Anderson (1925-2001)

Source: ISFDB




©2015 Denise Longrie

An earlier version of this review appeared on another site. It has been removed from that site and is no longer visible there or anywhere else. It has been updated and expanded for its inclusion in PP.

Image Credit » by WikiImages

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


iwrite28 wrote on April 30, 2015, 10:33 PM

Excellent review of the story. You have a real talent for reviewing.

msiduri wrote on April 30, 2015, 11:13 PM

Thank you! That's very kind. You've certainly made my day.

MegL wrote on May 1, 2015, 5:44 AM

I used to love seeing Poul Anderson stories in my local library. I used to spend most Saturday mornings there!

msiduri wrote on May 1, 2015, 9:33 AM

The library in the town where I went to high school was actually an old Victorian house made over. It was a wonderful place to get lost in books.