Sunday, April 8, 2007

"Armaments Race" (short story): Sometimes you get things you don't want!

Story summary (spoiler).
This leisurely funny little tale is about the making of a Hollywood television serial for kids. The hero, one Capt Zoom, is to fight the bad boys from Mars that want to subjugate earthlings - kind of US version of Shaktimaan.

In each episode, actors from both sides - good Capt Zoom & bad Martians with funny names - need to fight each others with impressive weapons - devices that look menacing on camera, & produce impressive visual & sound effects. And many different such weapons are needed for successive episodes to avoid boring audiences.

Special effects men work on producing these weapons. So a variety of things are tried - kids' plastic toys that produce water jets (kind of kids' pistols used in India during Holi), air jets produced by a powerful tiny fan that moves colored powder to produce a "beam", etc. Story gets its title from the fight against time of special effects team to produce newer weapons.

About a dozen variants of weapon are produced & used in several episodes. And then all hell breaks loose - next upgrade to weapon far exceeds the expectations of its makers!


Fact sheet.
Armaments Race, short story, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
Genre: Science fiction
First published: 1954
Rating: B

The story appears in the following collections.

  1. "Tales from the White Hart"
  2. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"
  3. "Across the Sea of Stars"

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