Challenge 567 Response
“The Never Index”
with Gary Clifton
“The Never Index” appears in issue 567.
Don, you know, I don’t believe I ever addressed your questions of this story.
Why is Elena carrying such important information in her implanted microchip? Does her mission require it, or is the story satirizing bureaucratic stupidity regarding possible security breaches?
Elena was implanted with an information chip carrying far too much sensitive data to justify the bureaucracy’s having her in the jungle headquarters. Her actual function was to entertain the brass.
Having spent most of my adult lifetime in the presence of — and being regularly influenced by — inept government managers, such a move is not as surprising as those who blindly watch James Bond may believe.
Lust and greed can cloud what common sense a fool might have in a heartbeat. Disregard the blunders made behind closed doors, as in this tale, and think of the times we’ve read in the regular news media of a prominent politician or government official having his concubine firmly implanted in some position far too close to the center of gravity of his whole operation.
Elena was clandestine, hidden, so they thought, behind the veil of invisibility. It’s just that stuff happens.
The future history setting is science fiction, of course; is it really implausible?
For openers, in several areas of the world, secret and violent operations involving the U.S. and companion nations exist as you have morning coffee.
I’m old enough to recall when any reference to brain surgery was intended as a joke. Now, surrounded by folks with artificial hips, knees, heart segments, and carrying a little plastic and wire device in my pocket which can call Bangkok if necessary, then provide last week’s football scores, who is to say what’s possible or not?
The U.S. Marines are noted for “leaving no man behind.” How do the “assets” Elena and Barzak differ from soldiers? What does the story imply about the nature of the entities in conflict?
Many government functions are loaded with dedicated, well-intentioned folks who bust a gut regularly throughout history to “leave no man behind.” However, again because of major malfunctions, the standard of that motto is not always possible to meet. They did not leave Barzak and Elena behind. They erased them and then found they had never existed in the first place. Often, in real operations, stranger things have happened.
Thank you, Gary, for a real-life perspective on “The Never Index”!
Of course, the question whether the future history setting is implausible is phrased in the negative for a reason. The question implies that the story is plausible and that denying it is what would be far-fetched.
We’re very glad to see that a real-life “James Bond” can safely retire on the “ever” index, and we’re looking forward to more adventures, mysteries and spy thrillers!
Copyright © 2015 by Gary Clifton
and Bewildering Stories