Florida Taxpayers

from 2010: Odyssey Two (1982) by Arthur C. ClarkeRating: 3.5     (24 ratings)

He was no longer radiating wastefully, but had almost mastered his control of energy, as once he had mastered lost though not forgotten limbs. He sank like a mist into the earthquake-proof vaults, until he found himself among billions of stored memories, and dazzling, flickering networks of electronic thoughts.
This task was more complex than the triggering of a crude nuclear bomb, and took him a little longer. Before he found the information he was seeking, he made one trivial slip, but did not bother to correct it. No one ever understood why, the next month, three hundred Florida taxpayers, all of whose names began with F, received checks for precisely one dollar. It cost many times the overpayment to straighten matters out, and the baffled computer engineers finally put the blame on a cosmic-ray shower. Which, on the whole, was not so very far from the truth.

- David Bowman

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2010: Odyssey Two