Short Story #54: Sentiment, Inc by Poul William Anderson

Title:  Sentiment, Inc

Author:  Poul William Anderson


Science Fiction Stories - 1953
Colin Fraser falls for a gal named Judy.  The courtship is slow and steady but Judy is clearly interested in him, though they continue to date other people.  One day, when Judy professes her sincere interested in Colin, she goes off on a date with someone else, largely to break it off with that person.  Shortly thereafter, Judy is speaking of her true dedication to this person and breaking it off with Colin.  Colin grows suspicious when he learns that Judy has been several times to Sentiment, Inc as part of a supposed study.  As he investigates Sentiment, Inc, he discovers the owner of Sentiment, Inc, Dr. Kennedy has stolen a machine that can strongly influence people to do what he wants within reason.  Fraser gets Kennedy to confess his plan to him but only because Kennedy has used the machine to make many people willing to listen and protect him.  As a compromise to Fraser, he gives Fraser the opportunity to use the machine on someone so that Fraser will leave him alone (noting that if Fraser doesn't, Kennedy will use his power to do him wrong).  Fraser takes advantage of the offer and has a man who is seems completely unconnected to the whole situation.  Fraser then has a friend of his whom Kennedy is after go into Sentiment Inc to get the treatment.  After his friend has passed along information to Kennedy that has government secrets and which Kennedy is giving to Soviets, Fraser confronts Kennedy.  He explains to Kennedy that he used his one shot at the machine to get access to the room next to Kennedy's and disrupt the machine so it didn't work on Fraser's friend.  He now has Kennedy caught and is turning him in to the authorities to prevent further use of the machine.  The story ends with Kennedy committing suicide and Fraser getting married (presumably to Judy).  


This felt like a standard science-fiction story that in some parts reminded me of Isaac Asimov.  It had a splash of actual science but mostly was plot driven which is how I prefer my science-fiction.  The story also had a good rhythm and proved enjoyable to read.

Short Story #54 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  2/22/2014
Source:  I read the free version on Amazon Kindle.  However, you can also find it here on Project Gutenberg.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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