Don't Get Technatal
by Ron Reynolds
For several moments Stern had eyed his typewriter ominously,
contemplating whether he should utter the unutterable. Finally:
"Damn!" he roared. "I can't write any more! Look, look at that!" He tore
the sheet out of the rollers and crumpled it in his fist. "If I'd known
it would be this way," he said, "I wouldn't have voted for it!
Technocracy is ruining everything!"
Bella Stern, preoccupied with her knitting, glanced up in horror. "What
a temper," she exclaimed. "Can't you keep your voice down?" She fussed
with her work. "There now," she cried, "you made me drop a stitch!"
"I want to be a writer!" Samuel Stern lamented, turning with grim eyes
to his wife. "And the Technate has spoiled my fun."
"The way you talk, Samuel," said his wife, "I actually believe you want
to go back to that barbarism prevalent in the DARK THIRTIES!"
"It sounds like one damned good idea!" he said. "At least I'd have
something decent, or indecent, to write about!"
"What can you mean?" she asked, tilting her head back and thinking.
"Why can't you write? There are just oodles of things I can think of
that are readable."
Something like a tear rolled down Samuel's cheek. "No more gangsters, no
more bank robberies, no more holdups, no more good, old-fashioned
burglaries, no more vice gangs!" His voice grew lachrymose as he
proceeded down an infinite line of 'no mores'. "No more sadness," he
almost sobbed. "Everybody's happy, contented. No more strife and hard
work. Oh, for the days when a gangland massacre was headline scoop for
"Tush!" sniffed Bella. "Have you been drinking again, Samuel?"
He hiccoughed gently.
"I thought so," she said.
"I had to do something," he declared. "I'm going nuts for want of a
Bella Stern laid her knitting aside and walked to the balcony, looked
meditatively down into the yawning canyon of the New York street fifty
stories below. She turned back to Sam with a reminiscent smile.
"Why not write a love story?"
"WHAT!" Stern shot out of his chair like a hooked eel.
"Why, yes," she concluded. "A nice love story would be very enjoyable."
"LOVE!" Stern's voice was thick with sarcasm. "Why, we don't even have
decent love these days. A man can't marry a woman for her money, and
vice-versa. Everyone under Technocracy gets the same amount of credit.
No more Reno, no more alimony, no more breach of promise, or law suits!
Everything is cut and dried. The days of society weddings and coming out
parties are gone—cause everyone is equal. I can't write political
criticisms about graft in the government, about slums and terrible
living conditions, about poor starving mothers and their babies.
Everything is okay—okay—okay—" his voice sobbed off into silence.
"Which should make you very happy," countered his wife.
"Which makes me very sick," growled Samuel Stern. "Look, Bell, all my
life I wanted to be a writer. Okay. I'm writing for the pulp magazines
for a coupla years. Right? Okay. Then I'm writing sea stories,
gangsters, political views, first class-bump-offs. I'm happy.... I'm in
my element. Then—bingo!—in comes Technocracy, makes everyone
happy—bump! out goes me! I just can't stand writing the stuff the
people read today. Everything is science and education." He ruffled his
thick black hair with his fingers and glared.
"You should be joyful that the population is at work doing what they
want to do," Bella beamed.
Sam continued muttering to himself. "They took all the sex magazines off
the market first thing, all of the gangster, murder and detective
publications. They been educating the children and making model citizens
out of them."
"Which is as it should be," finished Bella.
"Do you realize," he blazed, whipping his finger at her, "that for two
years there hasn't been more than a dozen murders in the city? Not one
suicide or gang war—or—"
"Heavens!" sighed Bella. "Don't be prehistoric, Sam. There hasn't been
anything really criminal for twenty years now. This is 1975 you know."
She came over and patted him gently on the shoulder. "Why don't you
write something science-fictional?"
"I don't like science," he spat.
"Then your only alternative is love," she declared firmly.
He formed the despicable word with his lips, then: "No, I want something
new and different." He got up and strode to the window. In the penthouse
below he saw half a dozen robots moving about speedily, working. His
face lit up suddenly, like that of a tiger spying his prey. "Jumping
Jigwheels!" he cried. "Why didn't I think of it before! Robots! I'll
write a love story about two robots."
Bella squelched him. "Be sensible," she said.
"It might happen some day," he argued. "Just think. Love oiled, welded,
built of metal, wired for sound!" He laughed triumphantly, but it was a
low laugh, a strange little sound. Bella expected him to beat his chest
next. "Robots fall in love at first sight," he announced, "and blow an
Bella smiled tolerantly. "You're such a child, Sam, I sometimes wonder
why I married you."
Stern sank down, burning slowly, a crimson flush rising in his face.
Only half a dozen murders in two years, he thought. No more politics, no
more to write about. He had to have a story, just had to have one. He'd
go crazy if something didn't happen soon. His brain was clicking
furiously. A calliope of thought was tooting in his subconscious. He had
to have a story. He turned and looked at his wife, Bella, who stood
watching the air traffic go by the window, bending over the sill,
looking down into the street fifty floors below....
... and then he reached slowly and quietly for his atomic gun.