The Cosmic Computer

By Henry Beam Piper, 1963
The Cosmic Computer

Summary

Conn Maxwell returns to his home planet (Poictesme) after completing his studies in cybernetics and computer theory on Terra to help search for a secret giant computer code-named Merlin hidden somewhere on Poictesme.

Book options

iPhone/iPad/Nook

FormatPriceSelect
EpubFree

Android phone/tablet

FormatPriceSelect
MobiFree
EpubFree

Kindle

FormatPriceSelect
azw3Free
MobiFree

Kindle Fire

FormatPriceSelect
azw3Free
MobiFree

PC

FormatPriceSelect
pdfFree

Universal

FormatPriceSelect
pdfFree

All

FormatPriceSelect
azw3Free
MobiFree
EpubFree
pdfFree

Excerpt

I

Thirty minutes to Litchfield.

Conn Maxwell, at the armor-glass front of the observation deck, watched the landscape rush out of the horizon and vanish beneath the ship, ten thousand feet down. He thought he knew how an hourglass must feel with the sand slowly draining out.

It had been six months to Litchfield when the Mizar lifted out of La Plata Spaceport and he watched Terra dwindle away. It had been two months to Litchfield when he boarded the City of Asgard at the port of the same name on Odin. It had been two hours to Litchfield when the Countess Dorothy rose from the airship dock at Storisende. He had had all that time, and now it was gone, and he was still unprepared for what he must face at home.

Thirty minutes to Litchfield.

The words echoed in his mind as though he had spoken them aloud, and then, realizing that he never addressed himself as sir, he turned. It was the first mate.[Pg 6]

He had a clipboard in his hand, and he was wearing a Terran Federation Space Navy uniform of forty years, or about a dozen regulation-changes, ago. Once Conn had taken that sort of thing for granted. Now it was obtruding upon him everywhere.

"Thirty minutes to Litchfield, sir," the first officer repeated, and gave him the clipboard to check the luggage list. Valises, two; trunks, two; microbook case, one. The last item fanned a small flicker of anger, not at any person, not even at himself, but at the whole infernal situation. He nodded.

"That's everything. Not many passengers left aboard, are there?"

"You're the only one, first class, sir. About forty farm laborers on the lower deck." He dismissed them as mere cargo. "Litchfield's the end of the run."

"I know. I was born there."

The mate looked again at his name on the list and grinned.

"Sure; you're Rodney Maxwell's son. Your father's been giving us a lot of freight lately. I guess I don't have to tell you about Litchfield."

"Maybe you do. I've been away for six years. Tell me, are they having labor trouble now?"

"Labor trouble?" The mate was surprised. "You mean with the farm-tramps? Ten of them for every job, if you call that trouble."

"Well, I noticed you have steel gratings over the gangway heads to the lower deck, and all your crewmen are armed. Not just pistols, either."

"Oh. That's on account of pirates."

"Pirates?" Conn echoed.