Saturday, February 11, 2012

Old Macdonald Had a Farm, by Mike Resnick

OK, now I remember why I at least sometimes like short stories.  Mike Resnick.  Old Macdonald Had a Farm is a classic of the form--the moral dilemma.  Caesar Macdonald appears to have solved world hunger with "Butterballs", a meat animal that's apparently so efficient it's better than plant life.  He had to kind of stretch to get to this, but it sets up the point.  You should go read it, so I won't give away the central point of the dilemma.  But this sort of thing is what good short stories can do particularly well--set out a problem in an entertaining yet simple way, and make you think.  Speculative fiction is an ideal vehicle for this, as the genre setting allows a suspension of disbelief.  You can ignore certain inconvenient facts like the paradoxes around the speed of light if you need or want to.  The setup is clean and, in context, believable, so one can better set up the central dilemma.  Enjoy reading and thinking about this one.  Four stars.

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