By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Short Story review: "The Next Logical Step" by Ben Bova

This is another in the series of “It Came from the Pulps!” where I review science fiction short stories that were originally published in the pulp magazines of mid-20th century. Many of these have become available in electronic form as free downloads, particularly from Project Gutenberg, or for a small price.

The CIA man has been invited to inspect the new immersive war-game computer, though, as he tells Ford the physicist and General LeRoy, he’s not sure what the problem has to do with him. And he really has more important things to do. All the officers who have seen it have either resigned their commission or gone insane.

It won’t take long, he’s assured. Only a lifetime.

The CIA man is hooked up to a war-gaming computer that allows him to experience a nuclear war as virtual reality—not just locally, but globally. He’s not sure if the fireballs and mushroom clouds are over Chicago or Shanghai, New York or Novosibirsk, Baltimore or Budapest, but it hardly matters.

Perhaps this is a bit dated, steeped in the Cold War culture that it is, but the payoff at the end of the story is both amusing and worth the wait. I can recommend it to any sci-fi buff (for it is classic sci-fi rather than fantasy).

Author Ben Bova, in addition to being a writer, has served as award-winning editor to A nalog of Science Fact and Science Fiction . He has written non-fiction as well as fiction.


Title: “The Next Logical Step” first published in Analog of Science Fact and Science Fiction May 1962

Author: Ben Bova (b. 1932)

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 material added for its inclusion in PP.

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cmoneyspinner wrote on April 20, 2015, 1:27 PM

I don't suppose there's any talk or rumors about converting these short stories into a TV series. Seems like that would be a good idea!

Feisty56 wrote on April 20, 2015, 3:20 PM

What a superb idea this story suggests to me: Let's require all war-mongers to experience war via virtual reality. I suspect there would be many fewer people so quick to want to send our young men and women into battle.

CalmGemini wrote on April 20, 2015, 3:28 PM

Well,a good story.In spite of the subject matter,an easy read too.

msiduri wrote on April 20, 2015, 7:12 PM

Not that I know of. For some of them, it would be great!

msiduri wrote on April 20, 2015, 7:14 PM

That's exactly what they did to the CIA guy. Most of the guys they did this to resigned or went insane. Think they might think about it twice...?

msiduri wrote on April 20, 2015, 7:16 PM

Yes, it was a very quick, easy read.