Decades ago, I mowed indiscriminately through dozens of sci-fi anthologies. I remember one short story that stood out in terms of writing style and characterization. It involved a bright but unambitious protagonist/anti-hero who was in the military, assigned as a low-level functionary to a classified research facility. I seem to recall that it barely qualified as sci-fi; that it was more like a low-key, character-driven techno-thriller with a mild "Catch-22" flavor. The only "high-tech" plot element I recall clearly was a pair of shoes/boots whose soles were made of a highly shock-absorbent material that allowed the protagonist to survive a jump from an unusual height unscathed.

I think the title of the story was "Goldbrick". As one standard definition for this word is "A person, especially a soldier, who avoids assigned duties or work; a shirker", it was probably a snipe at the protagonist's character (or lack thereof). I'm fairly certain the story was published before 1980, and almost as certain that it was published post-WW2, but I can't narrow it down any more than that. I can't remember the name of the author, either, nor the anthology it was in.

I know there is another sf short called "Gold Brick" (sometimes appearing as "Operation Gold Brick") by Walter Tevis. This is not the same story.


1 Answer 1


This sounds like "Goldbrick", a novella by Edward Wellen. First published in November 1978 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, this is consistent with the date range given, 1945 - 1980, and of course the fit of the title is obvious (so close, just a single space makes all the difference!)

It deals with the misadventures of Lt Stonewall Buckmaster after he was caught sleeping with the wife of his superior officer, and is transferred to the 10th Experimental. Although the story does not have a great deal of science fictional aspects, mainly being a series of farcical/comic scenes, John Rennie reminds me that it does involve special shoes called Crushees, designed to be used by paratroopers to cushion their landings, which accords with the OP's recollection.

It was only published in the anthology "Computer Crimes and Capers", published in 1983 and 1986, which must surely be the anthology read by the OP. It is available online at archive.org.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.