This a short story from an Anthology in the 1960s.

A scientist working on a star drive has been captured by the Red Chinese and is held in Peking/Beijing. A teleporting spy rescues him, but as he is about to teleport out with the scientist he knocks him out (I hope he doesn't damage his brain while doing so) so that the scientist doesn't see the teleportation and work on trying to understand telportation instead of working on his star drive.

One thing which I remember is that there was a nuclear power planet accident in Bejing which had destroyed many square miles of the city, and when rebuilding the Chinese Communists had built their own walled Kremlin with modern buildings. And in the story it was suspected that the "accident" had been caused by the Chinese communists so they had a chance to build their Kremlin in Bejing.

And I thought that the writer was exposing their ignorance since Beijing already had a super walled Kremlin, the Purple Forbidden City which was much larger than the Moscow Kremlin, and the Forbidden City in turn was within the even larger walled imperial City which in Turn was inside the even larger walled Inner City or Tarter City.

I thought I asked a question about that story before and it was answered. But I can't find the question and answer here. I think maybe it was "What The Left hand Was Doing" By Randall Garrett, especially considering this review:



Can anyone identify the story?


1 Answer 1


I did a little more digging and found "What The Left Hand Was Doing" online at Project Gutenberg and user14111's comment has a link to another online copy of the story.

The story seems to be set in about 1984, 35 years after the Communist victory in 1949:

Not even the thirty-five years of Communism, which had transformed agrarian China into an industrial and technological nation that ranked with the best, had destroyed the ancient Chinese respect for age.

And it mentions "the Peiping Explosion":

The Peiping Explosion, back in the sixties, had almost started World War Three. An atomic blast had leveled a hundred square miles of the city and started fires that had taken weeks to extinguish. Soviet Russia had roared in its great bear voice that the Western Powers had attacked, and was apparently on the verge of coming to the defense of its Asian comrade when the Chinese government had said irritatedly that there had been no attack, that traitorous and counterrevolutionary Chinese agents of Formosa had sabotaged an atomic plant, nothing more, and that the honorable comrades of Russia would be wise not to set off anything that would destroy civilization. The Russian Bear grumbled and sheathed its claws.

The vast intelligence system of the United States had reported that (A) the explosion had been caused by carelessness, not sabotage, but the Chinese had had to save face, and (B) the Soviet Union had no intention of actually starting an atomic war at that time. If she had, she would have shot first and made excuses afterwards. But she had hoped to make good propaganda usage of the blast.

The Peiping Explosion had caused widespread death and destruction, yes; but it had also ended up being the fastest slum-clearance project on record. The rebuilding had taken somewhat more time than the clearing had taken, but the results had been a new Peiping—a modern city in every respect. And nowhere else on Earth was there one hundred square miles of completely modern city. Alteration takes longer than starting from scratch if the techniques are available; there isn’t so much dead wood to clear away.

In the middle of the city, the Chinese government had built its equivalent of the Kremlin—nearly a third [21]of a square mile of ultra-modern buildings designed to house every function of the Communist Government of China. It had taken slave labor to do the job, but the job had been done.

A little more than half a mile on a side, the area was surrounded by a wall that had been designed after the Great Wall of China. It stood twenty-five feet high and looked very quaint and picturesque.

And somewhere inside it James Ch’ien, American-born physicist, was being held prisoner. Spencer Candron, alias Mr. Ying Lee, had to get him out.

In real life:

The Forbidden City is a rectangle, measuring 961 m (3,153 ft) from north to south and 753 m (2,470 ft) from east to west.

So the Forbidden City is actually 0.597 miles by 0.467 miles, or 0.279 of a square mile in area, and is not only surrounded by a wall but also by a moat. But the Chinese Communist government was never interested in using it as a seat of government.

And I still don't know how I learned that the story was "What the Left Hand Was Doing" by Randall Garret if I didn't ask the question here before and get an answer.

  • 4
    About the last paragraph... You sure you don't time-travel? 😉
    – Rmano
    Dec 12, 2022 at 21:43

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