"[Science fiction] is the one literary medium left in which we have a free hand. We can do any damn thing we please."
- Alfred Bester
||Bureaucratic red tape associated with busy space ports.
|He spent the remaining several hours in the maddening red tape of interplanetary clearance. He first picked up the letter of credit Ford had promised him and converted it into cash. Lazarus would have been quite willing to use a chunk of the cash to speed up his processing just as he had paid (quite legally) for a swap in slot with another ship. But he found himself unable to do so. Two centuries of survival had taught him that a bribe must be offered as gently and as indirectly as a gallant suggestion is made to a proud lady; in a very few minutes he came to the glum conclusion that civic virtue and public honesty could be run into the ground-the functionaries at Goddard Field seemed utterly innocent of the very notion of cumshaw, squeeze, or the lubricating effect of money in routine transactions. He admired their incorruptibility; he did not have to like it-most especially when filling out useless forms cost him the time he had intended to devote to a gourmet's feast in the Skygate Room.
He even let himself be vaccinated again rather than go back to the I Spy and dig out the piece of paper that showed he had been vaccinated on arrival Earthside a few weeks earlier.
Nevertheless, twenty minutes before his revised slot time, he lay at the controls of the I Spy, his pouch bulging with stamped papers and his stomach not bulging with the sandwich he had managed to grab. He had worked out the "Hohmann's-S" trajectory he would use; the results had been fed into the autopilot. All the lights on his board were green save the one which would blink green when field control started his count down. He waited in the warm happiness that always filled him when about to boost.
|From Methuselah's Children,
by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -
Of course, there are ways to avoid red tape:
They gave him an orbit; he matched in and steadied down, then set the Chili's identification beacon to his own combination, made sure that the radar of the ship's gig could trip it, and took the gig down to the auxiliary small-craft field at Goddard. He was careful to have all necessary papers with him this time; by letting the gig be sealed in bond he avoided customs and was cleared through the space port quickly.
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