Solution Unsatisfactory

Publication date:1941.05
Genre:Science fiction short story
Preceded by:They
Followed by:Universe
Wikipedia page

“Solution Unsatisfactory” is a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein. The story was first published in “Astounding Science‐Fiction” magazine May 1941, under Heinlein’s “Anson MacDonald” pseudonym, with illustrations by Frank Kramer.

In November 1940, Astounding editor John W. Campbell, Jr. had suggested that Heinlein write a story about the use of radioactive dust as a weapon, proposing a detailed scenario. Heinlein discarded Campbell’s scenario, and writes a story he calls “Foreign Policy,” submitting it to Campbell in December 1940 with the comment: “I turned the original idea upside down, inside out, shook it, and have turned out an entirely different story.” Campbell quickly accepted the piece, changing the title to “Solution Unsatisfactory.”


Before Pearl Harbor, before the war in Europe became a World War, Robert A. Heinlein considered the consequences of an unrestricted arms race. He foresaw the possibility of a “cold war,” a time of tensions and uncertainty with both major powers possessing doomsday weapons—and increasingly itchy trigger fingers. We approached the brink of nuclear war in 1962—and stepped back. Witness now the prescience of the Dean of Science Fiction, who saw it coming in 1941. Follow an extraordinary chain of events, leading to a problem unprecedented—and a “Solution Unsatisfactory.”