Fiction Friday – Ben Bova

Ben Bova

One might guess that someone who can write fascinating stories would automatically make a great guest. In to many instances this has proven not to be the case, but NOT with Ben Bova. Mr. Bova has been a frequent guest on our show, dating back to our old radio broadcast days. From the moment he first joined us, he was a mesmerizing guest. In one instance, when we had a 3 hour time slot to fill, Ben was set to join us in the second segment of our first hour. We had scheduled 3 other interviews to round out the show, but at each commercial break we decided to keep going with Ben. As luck would have it, he was as amused by us as we were spellbound by him and he has returned many times.

Like many other Sci Fi authors, Ben has a background in hard science and infuses his work with a future grounded in a plausible technology. One of the most interesting things he ever said to me was, “I have come to believe science fiction is history that simply hasn’t happened yet.”

Submitted for your approval, a story about the military, the CIA, and a computer.

“The Next Logical Step” by Ben Bova:

“I don’t really see where this problem has anything to do with me,” the CIA man said. “And, frankly, there are a lot of more important things I could be doing.”

Ford, the physicist, glanced at General LeRoy. The general had that quizzical expression on his face, the look that meant he was about to do something decisive.

“Would you like to see the problem first-hand?” the general asked, innocently.

The CIA man took a quick look at his wristwatch. “O.K., if it doesn’t take too long. It’s late enough already.”

“It won’t take very long, will it, Ford?” the general said, getting out of his chair.

“Not very long,” Ford agreed. “Only a lifetime.”

The CIA man grunted as they went to the doorway and left the general’s office. Going down the dark, deserted hallway, their footsteps echoed hollowly.

“I can’t overemphasize the seriousness of the problem,” General LeRoy said to the CIA man. “Eight ranking members of the General Staff have either resigned their commissions or gone straight to the violent ward after just one session with the computer.”

The CIA man scowled. “Is this area Secure?”

General LeRoy’s face turned red. “This entire building is as Secure as any edifice in the Free World, mister. And it’s empty. We’re the only living people inside here at this hour. I’m not taking any chances.”

“Just want to be sure.”

“Perhaps if I explain the computer a little more,” Ford said, changing the subject, “you’ll know what to expect.”

“Good idea,” said the man from CIA.

“We told you that this is the most modern, most complex and delicate computer in the world … nothing like it has ever been attempted before—anywhere.”

“I know that They don’t have anything like it,” the CIA man agreed.

“And you also know, I suppose, that it was built to simulate actual war situations. We fight wars in this computer … wars with missiles and bombs and gas. Real wars, complete down to the tiniest detail. The computer tells us what will actually happen to every missile, every city, every man … who dies, how many planes are lost, how many trucks will fail to start on a cold morning, whether a battle is won or lost …”

General LeRoy interrupted. “The computer runs these analyses for both sides, so we can see what’s happening to Them, too.”

The CIA man gestured impatiently. “War games simulations aren’t new. You’ve been doing them for years.”

“Yes, but this machine is different,” Ford pointed out.

You can find the rest of the story here.

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