Waterclap

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"Waterclap"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in If
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Universal Publishing
Media type Print (Magazine)
Publication date May 1970

"Waterclap" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. The story was written at the request of a movie company and was intended to serve as the basis of a film treatment. However, the author disliked the proposed characters and storyline and deliberately set out to write a story that he hoped would be rejected. The story was indeed rejected by the studio and was later published in the May 1970 issue of If and reprinted in the 1976 collection The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories.

Plot summary[edit]

Steven Demerest, a safety engineer at Luna City, a colony on the Moon, visits Earth and takes a trip by bathyscape to Ocean-Deep, an experimental colony at the base of the Puerto Rico Trench, where he meets its chief, John Bergen, and his wife Annette.

Ostensibly on a visit to exchange views on safety issues, Demerest is in fact planning to destroy Ocean-Deep. He reasons that if the project is found to be unsafe and thereby abandoned, more funding will be directed by the Planetary Project Commission (PPC) to the lunar colonies and space exploration.

When he finds that Annette is pregnant, he has his first pang of guilt. Nevertheless, he proceeds with his objective and overrides the safety systems that control the airlocks, whilst holding the Bergens hostage with a low-power laser.

The Bergens try to talk him out of his object, and feed him a not-entirely-untrue story that Ocean-Deep is in fact an experimental precursor to colonizing Jupiter and other planets. Demerest, realizing that his planned destruction will have the opposite effect to what he intends, surrenders.

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