Saturday Storytime: Native Intelligence


I’ve always enjoyed Keith Laumer’s Retief stories, although rereading them in the knowledge of their historical context is often painful. Laumer probably wouldn’t have been written this particular story as a response to today’s political climate, but I find much more fun reading it as though it Laumer had heard of the Tea Party.

“Where does the big leader keep himself?”

“I dunno. I guess he’s pretty busy right now.” Jake snickered. “Some of them guys call themselves colonels turned out not to know nothing about how to shoot off the guns.”

“Shooting, eh? I thought it was a sort of peaceful revolution; the managerial class were booted out, and that was that.”

“I don’t know nothing,” Jake snapped. “How come you keep trying to get me to say stuff I ain’t supposed to talk about? You want to get me in trouble?”

“Oh, you’re already in trouble, Jake. But if you stick with me, I’ll try to get you out of it. Where exactly did the refugees head for? How did they leave? Must have been a lot of them; I’d say in a city of this size they’d run into the thousands.”

“I don’t know.”

“Of course, it depends on your definition of a big shot. Who’s included in that category, Jake?”

“You know, the slick-talking ones; the fancy dressers; the guys that walk around and tell other guys what to do. We do all the work and they get all the big pay.”

“I suppose that would cover scientists, professional men, executives, technicians of all sorts, engineers, teachers—all that crowd of no-goods.”

“Yeah, them are the ones.”

“And once you got them out of the way, the regular fellows would have a chance; chaps that don’t spend all their time taking baths and reading books and using big words; good Joes that don’t mind picking their noses in public.”

“We got as much right as anybody—”

Keep reading.

Comments

  1. machintelligence says

    Do you have the publication date for this story? Laumer has always been one of my favorite authors, but this has the flavor of his later (and more cynical) works.

  2. dcortesi says

    Holy crap! All of Retief, online for free!?!? Thank you for linking to the Baen books site which I had never visited: quite a few classic SF works online for free (e.g. Laumer’s Dinosaur Beach series…) and many others for quite reasonable prices.

  3. gillyc says

    Thanks for the link – I’ve now read over half of them! But I’m in two minds; I keep going back because they’re fun but the blatant sexism is driving me crazy. I know it’s partly down to when they were written but I’ve read other stuff from the 60s that’s nowhere near so bad.