I read a sci-fi novel or novella about a man that worked for a government department whose job it was to slow things down so the people didn't get run over by the government. Any ideas of the title? I think there was a lot of subterfuge between the agents. It's on the edge of my memory.

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    What were the sci-fi elements of this novel? When did you read it? How old was it? Was it in English? Where/when was it set? Anything about the plot? Any more details you can remember might help someone to identify it!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 15, 2016 at 1:29
  • Like Frank Herbert's "Bureau of Sabotage" stories? See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_Sabotage
    – Otis
    Jul 15, 2016 at 2:09
  • Certainly not the answer, or even directly related, but the description here reminded me of Jack Vance's short "Dodkin's Job". Jul 15, 2016 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


Might this be one of the stories set in Frank Herbert's fictional universe featuring a Bureau of Sabotage? From the Wikipedia article on them:

In Herbert's fiction, sometime in the far future, government becomes terrifyingly efficient. Red tape no longer exists: laws are conceived of, passed, funded, and executed within hours, rather than months. The bureaucratic machinery becomes a juggernaut, rolling over human concerns and welfare with terrible speed...

There are two novels (Whipping Star, first serialized in Worlds of If in 1970, and The Dosadi Experiment, serialized in Galaxy in 1977), or it might be the short story introducing the concept: "The Tactful Saboteur."

Whipping Star has come up here before, and it was unofficially accepted (via comment) as the answer for a somewhat similar question. See: Novel with teleportation and a progress-delaying bureaucrat?

  • The Tactful Sabatoeur. Thanks so much! Jul 16, 2016 at 12:35
  • Now I just have to look through a few hundred anthologies in the garage to find it :) Jul 20, 2016 at 22:24

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