LESTER del REY, Editor – Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Second Annual Edition. E. P. Dutton, hardcover. 1973. Ace, paperback, December 1975.

   #8. DONALD NOAKES “The Long Silence.” First appeared in Analog SF, March 1972. Not reprinted elsewhere.

   This one’s a puzzler. Not only was this story never published anywhere else, but this is the only SF or fantasy story that the author ever had published. What’s worse is that I don’t think the story’s very good.

   The time is sometime in the near future (probably on Earth, but the locale is not entirely clear). The early 70s must have been still in the transistor radio era since this is one of the ideas transported to as I say, a very near future. A technique that protestors (to what is not entirely clear) have found effective to have everyone wear transistor radios around their necks and turn them up to the highest possible volume.

   The resulting din would deafen anyone. The solution found by the police? Use a newly invented machine that at the flip of a switch cuts off all sound altogether. The result? Quoting the last two lines [PLOT WARNING] “Without noise they have to think. If they are forced to think for too long they go mad.”

   In spite of this being a fairly minor effort, those last two lines do make you stop and think, though, don’t they?


Previously from the del Rey anthology: ROBERT L. DAVIS “Teratohippus.”