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I read a book of classic sci Fi stories that included a group of teachers in the future who are literally fighting over tenure.

Elements include a gunfight, standing behind a podium dodging projectiles, etc

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Approximately when did you read this?
    – DavidW
    Dec 6, 2023 at 1:10

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Sounds like "The Silver Corridor" by Harlan Ellison.

I don't see a great description online so here it is from memory and a brief skim of my copy of Alone Against Tomorrow, in which the story appears:

Two rival scholars, Marmorth and Krane, with competing political and scientific beliefs settle their disputes in the Silver Corridor, a holodeck-like arena that conjures various scenarios in which they attack each other using the force of their own conviction.

From my skim of the story, it doesn't specifically mention tenure, but it's clear their victory assures them significant professional clout.

The duel scenarios presented by the Corridor take various forms controlled by the two men. The intensity of these forces are controlled by each professor's will, which is read by the Corridor.

A few of the scenarios include:

  • A swordfight
  • An abstract duel of colours
  • A "spider-thing" that would be under the control of the more convicted of the two men.
  • A starship battle
  • A chess match
  • A volcano with torrents of lava

The two men argue about various scientific and idealistic beliefs. As each man presents an argument, it manifests itself as a physical attack in the holographic scenario. These attacks can hurt or kill the combatants as with a real, physical duel.

As the story progresses, the scenario changes theme several times, eventually reaching a volcanic landscape. By this time, both men have been battered by their ongoing battle. In the end,

A "woman-thing" holographic entity seeds doubt in both men, causing them both to falter in their convictions and simultaneously become engulfed in a wave of lava.

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    Except that it matches none of the points of the question?
    – DavidW
    Dec 6, 2023 at 15:15
  • I remember the story clearly but somehow forgot it was by Ellison. In my memory it doesn't actually seem like an Ellison story ...
    – davidbak
    Dec 6, 2023 at 19:00
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    @davidbak It's funny; my first real foray into Ellison is with Alone Against Tomorrow, in which this story can be found, so for me, this is quintessentially Ellison. But I do get what you mean from an objective standpoint. Dec 7, 2023 at 20:38
  • @Vanguard3000 - I have Alone Against Tomorrow on order now so soon I'll be able to see what's up with those stories.
    – davidbak
    Dec 7, 2023 at 23:25
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    @davidbak It's an awesome anthology. I had bought it in the early oughts because it contains both "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" and "Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman" which I had heard about and sounded excellent, but basically every story turned out to be excellent. Dec 8, 2023 at 14:46

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