A minimal SFnal element to a story that peers into the dark recesses of one human mind. The SFnal element – a solitary scientist has made a chance discovery that gives him the option to unleash nuclear annihilation on humanity.
And unfortunately, the solitary scientist is pretty much minded to do so, such little esteem does he hold humanity in. We find this out through his inner monologue, and he reviews his life, starting with childhood bullying, and progressing through bullying throughout his schooling, and military college, and other unsatisfactory experiences with other human beings throughout the rest of his life.
Had I been the editor who received this story, I would have made very sure that de Camp was receiving therapy, as the story rings so very true that it must have been drawn from personal experience, as a couple of references on the wikipedia page for this story attest. It’s very much the kind of testimony that you might expect to find when going through the belongings of a mass murderer.
And why bullying remains so much of an issue in schools and in other locations well into this century, is anyone’s guess…