998 by Edward Hya


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A drunken combination of a broken down baby buggy and a pawnbrokers three-ball sign, attached to a fifth rate power's ship by a band of roistering British Naval Officers, becomes 998, first in rumor and later on paper as surmise and speculation mushroom its mystery and importance. Though young Green confesses to the Minister of Agraria, and later to his Naval superiors, the hoax is kept quiet because of the international proportions 998 has taken on and Green is announced to have been officially executed. With a new name and disguised, he is still unable to escape 998's bogey power and when a refugee scientist furthers the deception by claiming that 998' can bring peace to all, Green knows some quiet. But an attempt to disprove the effectiveness of the gadget brings Green into the picture again -- and then out forever. The tightening spiral of cumulative incidents, all based on sheer fabrication, rolls along as a farce, well peppered with wry comments on international affairs and national character but ends as a sad commentary on modern man. There's intelligent buffoonery here with more than enough intellectual exercise for the demanding.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1952
Publisher: Pantheon