Sunday, May 6, 2007

"Moving Spirit" (short story): A man copes with sin taxes

This lovely little piece of humor is set in England around the time of war. I presume one of the world wars is meant. But it might as well have been set in India of 1970s or 80s; situation is very familiar.

Story summary (spoiler).
In a little town, you have alcohol shortages, governmental rationing, & a prohibition on brewing. Plus ordinary citizens have to pay several hundred percent sin tax on it. Of course, citizenry doesn't like it.

Our hero anyway brews at home - for own consumption, but he is still in violation of regulations. On one of these brewing occasions, there is a little accidental blast - no real damage, but a lot of noise. It was a coincidence that among the neighborhood that heard the noise & rushed to help was a tax inspector. Of course, there was smell of alcohol all over the place. Everyone understood, except the tax inspector.

Much of the story is a court room drama. Real meat of the story is the ingenious arguments of defense that get our man off the hook in a hurry. I really wonder why a lot of movies have not copied this defense. It's beautiful.

And then, there is a final twist - after the man is freed of charges. You know, one of those little incidents that make you smile in irony!

Fact sheet
Moving Spirit, short story, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
Genre: Humor
Rating: A

The story appears in the following collections.

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

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