Rails Across the Galaxy & Sanctuary
If you haven't read Sanctuary yet, go do so. Part 1, Part 2. As the saying goes, rich bloggy goodness. 3 thoughts come immediately to mind: 1) Maybe my high school wasn't so dumb, insisting these spoiled rich kids go camping. 2) One of my favorite stories in Analog was Rails Across the Galaxy, printed as a serial, ending in the mid-September 1982 issue. Written by Andrew Offutt and Richard Lyon. It deals with a first contact situation, present day Earth, with the aliens making the contact. The earthlings have something the aliens want; the earthlings don't know what to ask for it:
"But what then,?" Angel demanded, his arms writhing like a pair of cobras in heat. "What you are telling me is that although the Railroad has desperate need of your services, there is nothing you and your people need from us!" ... "We have a custom," I said mercifully. "When one is in need and cannot pay, one says ... Please." The Star Trader's hands became steady. "Other races have similar customs, Trader Quinan. It is absolute Railroad Policy that I may not practice such a custom; for if I did, your race would forever after have the right to say Please to the Railroad."The moonbat who asked the security agent to say please wasn't making a point of politeness, he was making a point of power - who had it in their interaction. The security agent was absolutely right in not giving up his power. Now, on the other hand, I disagree with so-called security measures that call for me to give up my power, yet don't offer me any more security in exchange. Strip frisking grannies, confiscating fingernail clippers, and forcing a woman to drink her own breast milk do nothing to improve my safety. But the proper place to debate this is in Congress, not in the airport. 3) There was a short story I read a while back in a Dragon. In it, Merlin comforted a dying King Arthur, by telling him what the future would be like. He talked about the poorest children having more clothes than current kings, and he discussed vanilla ice cream, with vanilla and sugar being from places that were currently unreachable, on an undiscovered continent. The highest technology is indistinguishable from magic.