n a recommendation by a friend after I’d reviewed The Keeper, I had a run at The Edge of the Knife, again, by H. Beam Piper. And, not to be anticlimactical, it was a good solid read.
It involves one Professor Chalmers, a teacher of Modern History IV class at at modest Blanley College. With a slip of the tongue, he notes the assassination of an important Arab diplomat in Basra. The reason this was a slip was that it hadn’t happened, not quite yet.
For you see, Professor Chalmers is a bit of a prophet.
For some time now, he’s been seeing the future, some of it involving our temporal-distant far-flung space empire, some of it next-week stuff. And he’s well aware this these aren’t delusions, these are history-peeks, coming attractions style. In the privacy of his home, he records them, filing each away in its envelope. And in the course of his day, while he talks, these facts come out.
Now faced with a mocking classroom of students and a furious faculty, Chalmers attempts to maintain his position. In fact, he’s forced to see his lawyer and cling to his tenure lest his dean throw him out for all the headaches he causes.
And then it gets worse. The Arab, Khalid ib’n Hussein, is shot. Precisely as Chalmers told his class. To every detail. Statistically impossible, unless you assume that he is a prophet.
Thus the story heats up, with angry meetings of the student body, the board, the professors and the dean. There are psychiatric examinations and glimpses into an increasingly bleak future. And it all comes to a head with a neat little resolution. So, like I said, a great little read – which you can get for free HERE.
I will say one thing – after reading the conclusion, I had a little bit of a milk-carton moment with his solution. Yes, it was a clever little use of situation to create an avenue of safety. But it was, in the calm of another day, a little unnecessary. The main character could have achieved the same result with a safer path. But that’s a minor critique. Otherwise, it was a lot of fun.