Locate old SF story
January 11, 2012 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Long ago (maybe 30 years?) and 500 miles away, I read a short SF story in which it is illustrated that do-gooders cause all the troubles in the universe. A lesson in unintended consequences. It was humorous. How can I find this again? For added joy, I am also looking for a short SF story in which nothing can happen in the entire galaxy due to bureaucracy and red tape. My current belief system is based upon the rule of unintended consequences, and the fear that bleeding hearts like me cause more harm than good.
posted by Hobgoblin to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: These are both basically the premise of the Retief series. If this is the series you are thinking of, then the story "Clear as Mud" is probably most emblematic of the first story you are looking for.
posted by inkyz at 8:38 AM on January 11, 2012

You may be less likely to have come across this one, but one of Stanislaw Lem's Ijon Tichy stories, "The Twentieth Voyage" in The Star Diaries, features a time-traveling bureaucracy that sets out to fix all the errors of evolution and human history and ends up...causing them.
posted by bad grammar at 5:06 PM on January 11, 2012

I'm pretty sure this isn't the story you're looking for, but a short SF story in which nothing can happen in the entire galaxy due to bureaucracy and red tape makes me think you might enjoy Connie Willis's Bellwether.
posted by Lexica at 7:33 PM on January 12, 2012

Response by poster: All three answers are great, and I thank you for them, but I did read the Retief books years ago, and that is what I was looking for. But I will be looking into the other suggestions!
posted by Hobgoblin at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2012

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