Rx For Chaos (2009) is the seventh SF work in the Complete Christopher Anvil series, following War Games. This collection contains twenty-two stories within six sections, plus Acknowledgments by the author. The stories were initially published over a span from 1952 to 1994.
- Cinderella, Inc. (Imagination, 1952) reveals a new process for a total makeover of the human body. Of course, there are a few followup conditions than must be maintained.
- Roll Out the Rolov! (Imagination, 1953) concerns temporary treatments for sexy bodies, including a way to bypass the affects of lust. Still, too much control can eliminate the fun.
- The New Boccaccio (Analog, 1965) considers a mechanized means of producing best sellers and the unexpected consequences.
- A Handheld Primer (Amazing, 1978) provides an introduction to handhelds, a new electronic means of finding information. It covers everything from quality issues to search capabilities. Too bad that technology hasn't yet produced such resources.
The Drug Factory
- Rx For Chaos (Analog, 1964) tells of the side effects of the new Banner Value Drug product De-Tox. Not only does it prevent hangovers, it also precludes hypnotic trances and related phenomena.
- Is Everybody Happy (Analog, 1968) relates the *good* side effects of the Banner Value Drug product Nullergin-200. Not only does it relieve allergic reactions, it also makes you feel friendly toward fellow humans.
- The Great Intellect Boom (Analog, 1969) explains the side effects of the Banner Value Drug product Cerebrocreatine. Not only does it stimulate your brain, it also reduces your drive to do something.
Science at Work
- Interesting Times (Analog, 1987) illustrates the problem with the first skill implant. A minor boxer was chosen to publicize the brain procedure by overcoming successive competitors in the boxing hierarchy. Unfortunately, the living example would rather party than train.
- Superbiometalemon (F&SF, 1982) is the fifth complaint letter to Interdisciplinary Genetronics about their farm equipment. It seems that the animal genes in the biomachines are affecting their behavior.
- Speed-Up! (Amazing, 1964) conveys the troubles of an engineer within a research complex who falls in love with an anti-technology fanatic. He also has some problems with espionage and sabotage.
- Rags From Riches (Amazing, 1987) shows what can happen if someone gets a bargain on computer equipment. All he wanted to do was write more letters.
- Bugs (Analog, 2986) exposes a computer salesman to a program that stimulates problem-solving. He is lost in a very realistic dream about what could have happened in the auto industry.
The Free Enterprisers
- Positive Feedback (Analog, 1965) is one of my favorite stories by this author. What would happen if you could get auto maintenance insurance? The story is an example of another way that the insurance industry could induce high costs and frustrated customers.
- Two-Way Communications (Analog, 1966) depicts a device that allows someone to respond to irritating comments over the radio. The radio announcer hears the remarks coming from the microphone.
- High G (IF, 1965) puts a high tech manager in the cleft of following his orders or producing a very important product. He chooses to build the new product, but runs into all the usual problems while the time of reckoning is rapidly approaching.
- Doc's Legacy (Analog, 1988) confronts a tact-challenged high tech manager with an improbable device and a young widow with two children. The man is very smitten, but eventually learns something about the device. The children keep busy trying to make a match between him and their mother.
- Negative Feedback (Analog, 1994) depicts the maneuvering of a robber baron when the company introduces a new product that has a few defects. The board of directors learn a little more about their basic function.
Crime and Punishment
- The New Way (Beyond Infinity, 1967) portrays the treatment of three men who accidentally kill a man during a robbery. The cameras near the scene prove their guilt beyond question. Now they will be punished for their crime.
- Identification (Analog, 1961) introduces a new means of preventing crimes. The agency uses a form of microminiaturization to create small machines that observe the crime scene.
- The Golden Years (Analog, 1977) introduces another method of preventing crimes and other adverse situations. The assurance company provides the necessary skills to its clients in an innovative manner.
Of Other Worlds
- No Small Enemy (Analog, 1961) involves an electronic research lab in an alien invasion. The lab has a device that allows remote viewing of the enemy and even some interaction. There is also a steam-powered car that gets very little exposure.
- Not in the Literature (Analog, 1963) is another of my favorite stories from this era. What if a people developed chemistry to a very high level, but didn't discover electricity? The story presents an example of the high tech nightmares that could result.
These tales exemplify the normal teachings of this SF guru. They are fables about the culture of the time. The Banner Value Drug stories make one wonder whether the characters are living in an ivory tower. Still, other stories have more subtle points to make.
The stories stimulate thoughts about the defects of our society. Yet they are fun to read. Enjoy!
Highly recommended for Anvil fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of cultural flaws, innovative solutions, and great humor.
-Arthur W. Jordin