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Very short story about engineering problems with weapons development in an intergalactic space war. Force field, matter shrinking technology. Taught in engineering design programs.

marked as duplicate by Adamant, Organic Marble, Ward, user14111 story-identification Oct 4 '16 at 3:23

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  • I am a little confused. Is the short story taught in engineering programs, or is that related to something in the story? – Adamant Oct 4 '16 at 2:28
  • The introduction preceding the story says that this is used as an assigned reading for engineering courses to illustrate design considerations for engineering issues. To show how things can go wrong and the need to go back to the drawing board. – Victor Morales Oct 4 '16 at 2:33
  • Great! Could you edit that in, along with any other details you can recall? Right now the description seems a bit short. – Adamant Oct 4 '16 at 2:35
  • This is a very brilliant website! I found the answer very quickly. It is Superiority by Arthur C. Clarke. Thank you all! – Victor Morales Oct 4 '16 at 2:40

This is Arthur Clarke's Superiority.

From Wikipedia

"Superiority" is a science fiction short story by Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1951. It depicts an arms race, and shows how the side which is more technologically advanced can be defeated, despite its apparent superiority, because of its own organizational flaws and its willingness to discard old technology without having fully perfected the new. Meanwhile, the enemy steadily built up a far larger arsenal of weapons that while more primitive were also more reliable. The story was at one point required reading for an industrial design course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

(highlights mine, since you mentioned the classroom aspect)

  • 2
    The "twist ending" is especially notable. – Maury Markowitz Oct 4 '16 at 17:43
  • 1
    It so happens that I just reread this story a few months ago. I discovered I had, in fact, forgotten the twist in the final lines of the story, but it all made sense in context! – Lorendiac Oct 5 '16 at 0:13

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