Playing Chess with Proto-man
Equation of Doom
Margot said, in the whisper of an awed thought: “Who controls it controls the galaxy….”
And she walked toward the box.
At that moment Ramsey had a vision. He saw—or thought he saw—Margot Dennison in the costume she had worn when they first met. She stood, eyes wide, fearful, expectant, before a chess-board. The pieces seemed to be spaceships. It was a perfectly clear vision, but it was the only such vision Ramsey had ever been vouchsafed in his life. He was no mystic. He did not know what to make of it.
Playing chess with Margot was—proto-man.
Ramsey only saw his hand.
A hand perhaps five million years old.
He blinked. The vision persisted, superimposed over Margot’s figure as she walked toward the box.
A game, he thought. Because we don’t understand it. Not that kind of power. Not the power a matter-transmitter would give. A cosmic game on a chess-board which wasn’t quite a chess-board, with a creature who had never lived as we know life and so could never die….
With the future of the galaxy hanging in the balance. Life or death for man hanging on a slim thread, because man wasn’t ready for matter-transmission, couldn’t hope to use it wisely, would use it perhaps for war, transmitting lethal weapons, thermonuclear, world-destroying weapons, instantly through space, for delivery anywhere, negating time….
The short science fiction novel Equation of Doom, by Gerald Vance, was first published in the popular sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories, Feb 1957 (you can read it in full on www.Gutenberg.org)