Science Ficiton Short Story Reivew : "This World Must Die!" by H. B. Fyfe
As the present story begins, Lou Philips is sitting in a control room watching an old man pace. He’s been brought there from the Lunar spaceport for some undisclosed purpose. He dislikes the old man immediately and wants to know what this business is all about. He had noticed two other people being hustled along with him and realizes everyone is probably waiting for a final arrival.
“What you are here for,” the old man tells Philips, “is a simple crime of violence. You’ll do, I’m sure.”
So this is a job interview? An assignment of some sort for inmates of the Lunar Detention Colony?
The reader is introduced to each inmate as he arrives. All four are serving life sentences, having been convicted for killing or attempting to kill someone, a rare crime in the 22nd century. And now Undersecretary for Security in the Council Anthony Varret has brought them together.
He begins by telling them a virus has broken out on one of the asteroids. Its fatality is 100 and it drives its victims insane before it kills them. In an attempt to isolate a group of victims, a ship was sent to keep them from infecting other worlds, but now this group is headed for the population centers on Mars. The Army can’t bring themselves to kill civilians. If the ship lands, millions will die. They need killers who are not like normal people to attack the ship before it can land on Mars.
“We’ve been civilized too long,” Varret tells the group.
Conveniently enough, one of the four is a jet pilot, another an engineer.
I found the premise interesting, but wish the characters had had a bit more time to develop and were a little less stereotypical. The ending was, well, not terribly surprising. All this aside, it’s a fun little story for rainy afternoon, not to be taken too seriously.
This story is available for free at Project Gutenberg .
Title: “This World Must Die!”
Author: H.B. Fyfe (legal name Horace Browne Fyfe, Jr.) 1918-1997
First published in Future Combined with Science Fiction Stories Sept. 1951
© 2016 Denise Longrie
An earlier version of the review appeared on another site. It has since been removed and is no longer visible. In fact that site itself is no longer visible as it has ceased to exist.