The novel's frame introduces an extraordinary man who is both a professional dancer and a brain surgeon. During an interview with a reporter, the man has a flashback which forms the rest of the novel. On Earth, wireless distribution of power is the standard, but the power receptors are failing unexpectedly all over the world. At the same time, the long-term health of many people is deteriorating. Some scientists believe that this may be related to the problems with power receptors, but are unsure of the relation and do not have the ability to solve the problem themselves.
Concerned experts consult Waldo Jones, who is a wealthy, eccentric inventor suffering from myasthenia gravis, a disease that causes its patients to suffer from degenerative muscle weakness. Living in an orbital satellite where his obese, weak body is weightless, he is not a happy man. He has limited contact with other people, considering them below his superior intellect. Only at the end of the novel does he realize his need for others as well as their need for him. His technical inventions and deductions eventually have applications to improve the lives of many people and his own life as well. At the end of the story, the frame reveals him as the talented surgeon and dancer.
(The entire section is 214 words.)
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James Stevens, the Chief Traffic Engineer of North American Power Air (NAPA), is summoned to his superior’s office because NAPA, the company that supplies power to air vehicles as well as the cities, suffers several unexplainable power breakdowns. ‘‘DeKalb receptors,’’ components that receive the radiant power, utilize the power for the aircars. Scientists proclaim the deKalbs infallible, and yet they have been failing in commercial freighters for some time. NAPA cannot figure out what causes the problem. The head physicist of NAPA, Dr. Rambeau, insists that the deKalbs cannot fail and that the engineers have somehow ‘‘operated them incorrectly’’ yet the engineering department cannot figure out just what they’re doing wrong.
NAPA is completely puzzled, so Dr. Stevens suggests that they contact Waldo, a bitter genius who is particularly hateful toward NAPA, to solve the problem for them. The suggestion is met with some dismay, but Gleason, Dr. Stevens’s superior, admits that he’s already contacted Waldo, but that Waldo is ‘‘still sore over the Hathaway patents’’ and doesn’t wish to help NAPA. The people at NAPA are worried about the failure of the deKalbs in the air vehicles because the same technology is used to power cities, and NAPA is afraid that while the power to the cities hasn’t yet failed, it’s only a matter of time until it does. Because of these worries, Gleason...
(The entire section is 1369 words.)