Wordy Wednesday – Sail 25 by Jack Vance

Sci-fi short stories can be really hit or miss for me, but that’s true of most short stories. There’s a limited amount of space to tell the story, and in sci-fi I really want to learn about the world and technologies involved as well as the characters.

Sail 25 by Jack Vance is very well done. I read it as part of a collection called ‘The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction’ that brought together stories that focus on, well, the seven deadly sins. Sail 25 focuses on sloth.

A flute-playing space devil is not in Sail 25.

A flute-playing space devil is not in Sail 25.

How do you train spacemen to pilot a spaceship? Train them a bit, then dump them on a ship with Henry Belt, the go-to man for learning the spaceship trade. They need real-life experience, after all.

But Belt’s training procedure is strictly hands off. They get on the ship and he holes up in his room with his numerous cases of whiskey. Problems? The students fix them or they all die.

But Belt also messes with them. During the voyage, they keep finding that instruments have been tampered with, controls have been disabled or broken. Through it all, Belt maintains a fatalistic attitude – if they die, they die, but he won’t lift a finger to stop it from happening.

Everything about the story was excellent, and it got me pumped to read the rest of the collection. I’d recommend it.


About seansynthetic

"...so I says the the guy, I says to him, 'No, YOU ain't allowed back into this Chuck-E-Cheese.'"

Posted on February 6, 2013, in Wordy Wednesdays and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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