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The real “And Then There Were None”

Okay, for the first entry in our two weeks of good cheer and pro-freedom usefulness — an oldie but a very goodie.


First, some background. You can skip this if you don’t care and go right to the links at the bottom.

If you were on The Claire Files Forums (now the Mental Militia Forums) seven or eight years ago, you’ll probably still remember the poster known as Shevek.

Shevek was well-liked, widely considered one of the “wise men” of the forums, and is the only person I know with both a noun and a verb created in his honor: to Shevek and Fussitarian. Both have to do with extreme attention to detail.

Shevek eventually took the very sane step of dropping even further out and is rarely heard from these days. However, I tracked him down recently and he’s doing very well.

Among the quiet, detail-oriented projects Shevek’s been working on lo these many years is an accurate online reconstruction of the original Eric Frank Russell story “And Then There Were None.” He says that the copy I’ve linked to before isn’t The One. (The story was originally published in the June 1951 edition of Astounding Science Fiction and later included, revised, as an episode in Russell’s novel, The Great Explosion.)

That’s the background.


Shevek now offers the one, the only, the original “And Then There Were None.” With considerable attention to getting it right, you can be sure.

It’s a great story — and great inspiration for freedomistas and tyranny-resisters everywhere. Sure, it’s “only” fiction. Sure, our government is much more savage than the bunch of galactic tax collectors who land on the planet of the peaceful, anarchist Gands in Russell’s tale. Still. When spirits are down, here’s something to lift them. Hallelujah for how things could be done.

I have no idea of the copyright status of the story (though versions have been online quite a while and if there’s an Eric Frank Russell estate, they don’t seem anxious to kill ATTWN’s free Netly presence). Though I’m pro-author as everybody knows, I don’t think anything written in 1951 by a man now long-dead should be protected from copying. And Shevek urges anybody who wants it to download his .pdf. Feel free to mirror it, also, with credit and a link back.


  1. Joel
    Joel December 18, 2012 7:54 am

    Hoo-Yah! I love that story! Downloaded.

    But (not having read the whole thing yet) how does it differ from the version?

  2. Claire
    Claire December 18, 2012 7:59 am

    I just knew someone would ask. Since I’m not as detail-oriented as Shevek and since Shevek isn’t around to explain (blog reading having been one of the things he gave up when he dropped out), you’ll have to compare for yourself. Unless I can talk Shevek into coming here for a comment.

  3. kycolonel
    kycolonel December 18, 2012 9:54 am

    I hadn’t thought of that story for decades. I remember reading it when it came out. I am delighted to get the opportunity to read it again.
    What a great Christmas gift Claire. Thanks.

  4. Philalethes
    Philalethes December 18, 2012 12:28 pm

    Joel, just compare the beginnings of the two; they’re clearly different. The version must be one of the later ones; I think it’s shorter.

    Eric Frank Russell was one of my favorites when I was a science fiction fan(atic) some fifty years ago. He had several other stories in a similar vein, some shorter, and, as I recall, even funnier. I remember only the name of one, “Diabologic”… something about how the dull mind of a burrocrat could be completely bollixed by taking Official Pronouncements literally and bouncing them back. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find that one online, so haven’t read it in probably fifty years.

    Oh, now an Internet search for “Diabologic” finds a few excerpts and comments.

    ER @ Wikipedia
    “Shadow Man” fan site
    The Great Explosion downloadable PDF.

  5. Laird
    Laird December 18, 2012 12:56 pm

    A great story, one which somehow I’ve never read before. It’s going in my permanent archive. Thanks!

  6. jed
    jed December 18, 2012 4:05 pm

    7 or 8 years ago? Aaaaaug! Yes, I remember Shevek. Where does the time go? I’m now afraid to log in and look up my join date.

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