2010-02-05

Superiority by Arthur C. Clarke

Superiority is a short hard science fiction story written by Arthur C. Clarke and published in 1951. Although it describes an arms race, I believe it to be very relevant to the modern software engineering world.

Soon after publication 'Superiority' was inserted into the Engineering curriculum of MIT - to warn the graduates that the Better is often the enemy of the Good - and the Best can be the enemy of both, as it is always too late. -- Arthur C. Clarke ([ACC, p. 395]).

Have you ever heard of the better being the enemy of the good (attributed to Voltaire)? Have you ever heard of overengineering?

In the story a captured general reveals the reason for his failure. His army had everything, had technological advantage, financial advantage - and yet lost to a seemingly weaker army. Why? Read this shorty story and find out why - and how surprisingly relevant it is in the software world today.

Read it now or purchase it somewhere on the Internet (I own this edition) or at your favorite book store.

Bibliography:
[ACC] Arthur C. Clarke - The Collected Stories, ISBN 978-1-85798-323-4.

You can help me maintaining this site by buying this item:
The Collected Stories Of Arthur C. Clarke (Gollancz S.F.)

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