I’ve been an H. Beam Piper fan since I was a young whippersnapper. With the new Fuzzy novel out, I dusted this one off, as well. Day of the Moron is a story I read as a child, and it always troubled me a bit. Although dated, it is appropriate for modern times.
There is trouble at a nuclear power plant, and it stems from a labor/management showdown. The protagonist, Melroy, wants to test his union employees to make sure they aren’t morons. They, of course, object. It follows tired lines of melodrama and the very foreseeable ending doesn’t cast the “enlightened individual vs. everyone else” Ayn Randian moral that I think was Mr. Piper’s intent. It comes off as a self-assured blowhard doing things that he knows will have a bad result, and he does them at the worst possible moment. In the end, Melroy might have proven himself to be technically correct, but you have to wonder about the intelligence of someone who does what he did.
The “enlightened individual” who saves everyone is a theme in Piper’s work, and when the characters are capable of self-reflection, don’t preach, and are up against clearly bad people, he pulls it off. This is not one of those stories. I guess there is a reason this one doesn’t see the light of day very often.
Day of the Moron is available at Project Gutenberg. (It’s free!)