“The Weapons Shop,” A. E. van Vogt, 1942 – A town as “pretty as a painting” suddenly finds a weapons shop erected in its midst. Small businessman Fara objects to its presence and points out that the shop isn’t regulated by the empire. Surprisingly, the shop owners agree to help him and send him to the imperial city. He complains to the Empress, only to find that the people on the margins are mere numbers to her. The man learns that the owners of the weapons shop believe they’re fighting against the corrupt and authoritarian Empress.
Comments: Contains quite a bit of “freedom through arms” rhetoric, but interesting for its comments on the life of subjects on the margins of an empire. Paired with two related stories and made into a novel, The Weapons Shop of Isher. Read in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
Author: Wikipedia: “Alfred Elton van Vogt (April 26, 1912 – January 26, 2000) was a Canadian-born science fiction author regarded as one of the most popular and complex science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century: the ‘Golden Age‘ of the genre.”