-And Devious the Line of Duty by Tom Godwin

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“-And Devious the Line of Duty” is a 1962 science fiction short story by Tom Godwin. It is about a young Space Patrol lieutenant who is assigned to an inter-planetary peace conference.

A New Cartoon?
I couldn’t help, while reading this story, of thinking that it would make a great animated show. I think that is because I kept picturing one of the characters as Scooby-Doo! That was fun, but then I thought about it some more, and I have decided that no, this wouldn’t make a good cartoon. Well, unless you like your cartoons with lots of violence, sexist comments, depressed characters and emotional roller coaster rides. But hey, don’t let that stop you from reading this story, because it really is quite good. I promise!

Non-Spoiler Summary

A forest picture by Miwok, public domain

Lieutenant Dale Hunter is fresh out of the academy and has been assigned to escort a senior agent to a special conference on the neutral world of Vesta. Their job is to try and convince the powerful world of Jardeen to join the Terran Republic instead of allying itself with the anti-Terran planet of Verdam. But, due to recent sad incidents, the Jardeen representative has all but made up his mind to go with Verdam. This is where Lieutenant Hunter’s superior really shines! See, he is an old hand in political intrigue, and has a clever yet subtle plan to turn the tide of events. Now, if he can just get Lieutenant Hunter to cooperate – wittingly or not – then there may be hope for the Terran Republic after all!

My Two Cents

  • Story: 5 stars – In many ways it seems like an old tale – I’m sure you’ll figure out what is happening fairly quickly. But the ending was really cool – and totally threw me for a loop!
  • Writing: 4 stars – I think Tom Godwin is a good writer, and this story was told well. However, I am taking off one star for Alonzo’s weird, Scooby-Doo style of speaking – that almost drove me crazy!
  • Fun Factor: 5 stars – An awesome story with a great ending, coupled with a really cool setting, made this an easy and fun read!

Where To Find -And Devious the Line of Duty

  • This short story first appeared in the December 1962 issue of Analog Science Fact and Fiction.
  • You can read, or download, “-And Devious the Line of Duty” for free online at the wonderful Project Gutenberg.
  • It is also included in the fantastic collection of Tom Godwin stories: The Cold Equations & Other Stories.

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you liked “-And Devious the Line of Duty” then you might also enjoy “Five Ways to Fall In Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo – about a woman made of china who has a relationship with a human tourist on her planet.

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