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Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein

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Contents (by Date of




"Life-Line," Astounding
Science Fiction, August 1939. 

"Misfit," Astounding
Science Fiction, November 1939.

Operation", 1940

"Requiem," Astounding
Science Fiction, January 1940. 

"If This Goes On—,"
Astounding Science Fiction, February, March 1940. 

" 'Let There Be Light,'
" Super Science Stones, May, 1940 (under pseudonym Lyle

"The Roads Must Roll,"
Astounding Science Fiction, June 1940. 

"Coventry," Astounding
Science Fiction, July 1940. 

"Blowups Happen,"
Astounding Science Fiction, September 1940. 

"The Devil Makes the Law,"
(AKA Magic, Inc) Unknown, September 1940, (under pseudonym Anson

"Sixth Column,"
Astounding Science Fiction, January, February, March 1941 (under pseudonym
Anson MacDonald). 

" '—And He Built a
Crooked House—,' " Astounding Science Fiction, February 1941.

"Logic of Empire,"
Astounding Science Fiction, March 1941. 

"Beyond Doubt,"
Astonishing Stories, April 1941 (under pseudonym Lyle Monroe and Elma

"They," Unknown, April

"Universe," Astounding
Science Fiction, May 1941. 

Unsatisfactory," Astounding Science Fiction, May 1941 (under
pseudonym Anson MacDonald). 

" '—We Also Walk Dogs,'
" Astounding Science Fiction, July 1941 (under pseudonym Anson

Methuselah's Children,
Astounding Science Fiction, July, August, September, 1941.

"Elsewhere" (AKA "Elsewhen"),
Astounding Science Fiction, September 1941 (under pseudonym Caleb

"By His Bootstraps,"
Astounding Science Fiction, October 1941 (under pseudonym Anson MacDonald).

Astounding;  Science Fiction, October 1941. 

"Lost Legion" (AKA "Lost
Legacy"), Super Science Stories, November 1941 (under pseudonym
Lyle Monroe). 

" 'My Object All
Sublime,' " Future, February 1942. 

"Goldfish Bowl,"
Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942 (under pseudonym Anson MacDonald).

"Pied Piper,"
Astonishing Stories, March 1942 (under pseudonym Lyle Monroe).

"Waldo," Astounding
Science Fiction, August 1942 (under pseudonym Anson MacDonald). 

"The Unpleasant
Profession of Jonathan Hoag," Unknown Worlds, October 1942
(under pseudonym John Riverside).

"Witch's Daughters",

"The Green Hills of
Earth," Saturday Evening Post, February 8, 1947. 

"Space Jockey,"
Saturday Evening Post, April 26, 1947. 

"Columbus Was a Dope,"
Startling Stories, May 1947 (under pseudonym Lyle Monroe). 

"They Do It With
Mirrors," Popular Detective, May 1947 (under pseudonym Simon

" 'It's Great To Be Back!'
" Saturday Evening Post, July 26, 1947. 

"Jerry Is a Man," (AKA "Jerry
Was a Man"), Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1947. 

"Water Is for
Washing," Argosy, November 1947. 

Rocket Ship Galileo,
Scribner's, 1947. 

"The Black Pits of
Luna," Saturday Evening Post, January 10, 1948. 

"Gentlemen, Be
Seated!" Argosy, May 1948. 

"Ordeal in Space,"
Town and Country, May 1948. 

Beyond This Horizon (revised version), Fantasy Press,

Space Cadet, Scribner's,

"Our Fair City,"
Weird Tales, January 1949. 

"Nothing Ever
Happens on the Moon," Boys' Life, April, May 1949. 

"Poor Daddy," Calling
All Girls, 1949. 

"Gulf," Astounding Science
Fiction, November, December 1949. 

"Delilah and the
Space Rigger," Blue Book, December 1949. 

"The Long Watch,"
American Legion Magazine, December 1949. 

Red Planet, Scribner's,

"Cliff and the
Calories," Senior Prom, August 1950. 

Farmer In The Sky,
first serialized as Satellite Scout in Boys' Life, August,
September, October, November 1950. 

"The Man Who Sold the
Moon," (not serialized), in The Man Who Sold the Moon, Shasta,

"Destination Moon,"
Short Stories Magazine, September 1950.

Where To? (Poem) 1951

Between Planets,
serialized as Planets in Combat in Blue Book, September, October

The Puppet Masters,
serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction, September, October, November

"Bulletin Board",

"The Year of the Jackpot,"
Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1952. 

The Rolling Stones,
serialized as Tramp Space Ship in Boys' Life, September, October,
November, December 1952. 

"Project Nightmare,"
Amazing Stories, April 1953. 

"Skylift," Imagination,
November 1953. 

Starman Jones,
Scribner's, 1953. Reprinted by Del Rey Books. 

The Star Beast, serialized
as The Star Lummox in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,
May, June, July 1954. 

Tunnel In The Sky,
Scribner's, 1955. 

Double Star, serialized in
Astounding Science Fiction, February, March, April 1956.

Time For The Stars,
Scribner's, 1956.

The Door Into Summer,
serialized in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October,
November, December 1956. 

"The Menace From
Earth," Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1957. 

Citizen Of The Galaxy,
serialized in Astounding Science Fiction, September, October, November,
December 1957. 

"The Elephant
Circuit" ("The Man Who Traveled in Elephants"), Saturn,
October 1957. 

"Tenderfoot in
Space," Boys' Life, May, June, July 1958. 

Have Space Suit—Will Travel,
serialized in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August,
September, October 1958. 

"All You Zombies—,"
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1959. 

Methuselah's Children
(revised version), Gnome Press, 1958. 

Starship Troopers,
serialized as Starship Soldier in Magazine of Fantasy and Science
Fiction, October, November 1959. 

Stranger In A Strange Land,
Putnam, 1961.

Scientific American, August 1962; Fortune, September 1962. 

Podkayne Of Mars,
serialized in Worlds of If, November 1962, January, March 1963. 

Glory Road, serialized in
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July, August, September 1963. 

Farnham's Freehold,
serialized in If, July, August, October 1964. 

The Moon Is A Harsh
Mistress, serialized in If, December 1965, January, February,
March, April 1966, Putnam, 1966. 

"Free Men," in The
Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein, Ace Books, 1966. 

I Will Fear No Evil,
serialized in Galaxy, July, August, October, December 1970. 

Time Enough For Love,
Putnam 1973. 

"Notes from Magdalene
Moore", Analog, October 1973.

"No Bands Playing,"
Vertex: The Magazine of Science Fiction, December 1973. 

The Notebooks Of Lazarus Long,
Putnam, 1978. (Taken from two chapters of Time Enough For Love). 

The Number Of The Beast,
Fawcett Columbine, 1980. 

"A Bathroom of Her
Own," Expanded Universe, 1980. 

"On the Slopes of
Vesuvius," Expanded Universe, 1980. 

Friday, Holt, Rinehart and
Winston, 1982. 

Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Del Rey
Books, 1984. 

The Cat Who Walks
Through Walls, Putnam, 1985. 

To Sail Beyond The
Sunset, Putnam, 1987. 

Dance Session (Poem), 1988.

The Witch's Daughters (Poem),

For Us the Living, Scribner,

Variable Star (with Spider
Robinson), Tor, 2006




How to Write a Story (1941) 

Book Review (The Days of Creation) (1942)

Book Review (Shells and Shooting by
Willy Ley) (1942)

Book Review (Rockets: A Prelude to Space Travel) (1944)

Man in the Moon (AKA Back of the Moon) (1947)

Flight Into the Future (1947)

Baedecker of the Solar System (1949)

Why I Selected The
Green Hills of Earth (1949)

The Historical Novel of the Future, Writer's Digest,
March, 1950

"Destination Moon" (1950)

Preface (The Man Who
Sold the Moon) (1950)

Where To? (1950)

Book Review (Space Medicine) (1951)

Introduction (Tomorrow,
the Stars) (1951)

Ray Guns and Rocket Ships

This I Believe [Broadcast
December 1, 1952]

Concerning Stories Never Written:
Postscript (1953)

Introducing the Author (1953)

Introduction (The Best from Startling Stories) (1953)

The Third Millennium Opens

Who Are the Heirs of
Patrick Henry? (1958)

Science Fiction: Its Nature, Faults and Virtues (1959)

Inside Intourist (1960)

"Pravda" Means
"Truth" (1960)

Interview: Playboy Magazine Symposium (1962)

Appointment in Space (1963)

All Aboard the Gemini,

The Happy Road to Science Fiction (1964)

On the Writing
of Speculative Fiction (1964)

Science Fiction: The World of 'What If? (1964)

Letter to Harris Public Library (1966)

Pandora's Box (1966)

The Pragmatics of
Patriotism (1973)

Introduction (The Best of Robert Heinlein) (1973)

The Notebooks of Lazarus
Long (1973)

Notes from Magdalen Moore

Forrestal Lecture, 1973,
published in Analog, January 1974.

Discovery of the Future (GoH
Speech, Third WorldCon, Denver, 1941) (1973)

A United States Citizen Thinks About Canada (1975)

Interview by J. Neil Schulman

Paul Dirac, Antimatter, and You (1975)

Are You a Rare Blood? (1976)

Liner Notes for Green Hills of Earth record album (1977)

Letter: Appreciation of Clifford Simak (1977)

An Open Letter from Robert Heinlein

Spinoff (1980)

Introduction to
Expanded Universe (1980)

How to Be a Survivor (1980)

The Happy Days Ahead (1980)

Pie from the Sky (1980)

The Last Days of the
United States (1980)

Larger Than Life: A Memoir in
Tribute to Dr. Edward E. Smith (1980)

The Good News of High Frontier (1982)

Letter to Theodore Sturgeon, February 11, 1955 (1995) 

Agape and Eros - The Art of Theodore

Grumbles from the Grave, (1989)

Take Back Your Government!, (1992)

Tramp Royale, (1992)


[bookmark: introduction]Introduction


Four point six million words
written by Robert A Heinlein. What more do you need to know?


This release is everything I could
find that Heinlein published. There are still a few minor works I couldn't
track down, and if they turn up later I will release an updated version of
Volume 1.

I'd like to thank everyone who has
scanned and/or proofed some of Heinlein's writings, but I can't. For one thing,
many of the proofed versions I found had no credits; for another many of the
"proofed" versions I found were raw scans that weren't proofed. This
release is an attempt to gather into one spot all of the e-texts out there with
a common formatting scheme, and proofed to at least the point where they are
readable. Credits have been removed from proofed versions I used in the
interest of reducing clutter.

If you find anything by Heinlein
that isn't here, email me at and let me know. I'd be
delighted to add it to the release.



[bookmark: lifeline]Life-Line


The chairman rapped loudly for
order. Gradually the catcalls and boos died away as several self-appointed
sergeants-at-arms persuaded a few hotheaded individuals to sit down. The
speaker on the rostrum by the chairman seemed unaware of the disturbance. His
bland, faintly insolent face was impassive. The chairman turned to the speaker,
and addressed him, in a voice in which anger and annoyance were barely

“Doctor Pinero,”—the “Doctor” was
faintly stressed—“I must apologize to you for the unseemly outburst during your
remarks. I am surprised that my colleagues should so far forget the dignity
proper to men of science as to interrupt a speaker, no matter,” he paused and
set his mouth, “no matter how great the provocation.” Pinero smiled in his
face, a smile that was in some way an open insult. The chairman visibly
controlled his temper and continued, “I am anxious that the program be
concluded decently and in order. I want you to finish your remarks.
Nevertheless, I must ask you to refrain from affronting our intelligence with
ideas that any educated man knows to be fallacious. Please confine yourself to
your discovery—if you have made one.”

Pinero spread his fat white hands,
palms down. “How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not
first remove your delusions?”

The audience stirred and muttered.
Someone shouted from the rear of the hall, “Throw the charlatan out! We’ve had
enough.” The chairman pounded his gavel.

“Gentlemen! Please!” Then to
Pinero, “Must I remind you that you are not a member of this body, and that we
did not invite you?”

Pinero’s eyebrows lifted. “So? I
seem to remember an invitation on the letterhead of the Academy?”

The chairman chewed his lower lip
before replying. “True. I wrote that invitation myself. But it was at the
request of one of the trustees—a fine public-spirited gentleman, but not a
scientist, not a member of the Academy.”

Pinero smiled his irritating
smile. “So? I should have guessed. Old Bidwell, not so, of Amalgamated Life
Insurance? And he wanted his trained seals to expose me as a fraud, yes? For if
I can tell a man the day of his own death, no one will buy his pretty policies.
But how can you expose me, if you will not listen to me first? Even supposing
you had the wit to understand me? Bah! He has sent jackals to tear down a
lion.” He deliberately turned his back on them. The muttering of the crowd
swelled and took on a vicious tone. The chairman cried vainly for order. There
arose a figure in the front row.

“Mister Chairman!”

The chairman grasped the opening
and shouted, “Gentlemen! Doctor Van Rhein-Smitt has the floor.” The commotion
died away.

The doctor cleared his throat,
smoothed the forelock of his beautiful white hair, and thrust one hand into a
side pocket of his smartly tailored trousers. He assumed his women’s-club

“Mister Chairman, fellow members
of the Academy of Science, let us have tolerance. Even a murderer has the right
to say his say before the state exacts its tribute. Shall we do less? Even
though one may be intellectually certain of the verdict? I grant Doctor Pinero
every consideration that should be given by this august body to any unaffiliated
colleague, even though”— he bowed slightly in Pinero’s direction—“we may not be
familiar with the university which bestowed his degree. If what he has to say
is false, it can not harm us. If what he has to say is true, we should know
it.” His mellow cultivated voice rolled on, soothing and calming. “If the
eminent doctor’s manner appears a trifle inurbane for our tastes, we must bear
in mind that the doctor may be from a place, or a stratum, not so meticulous in
these little matters. Now our good friend and benefactor has asked us to hear
this person and carefully assess the merit of his claims. Let us do so with
dignity and decorum.”

He sat down to a rumble of
applause, comfortably aware that he had enhanced his reputation as an
intellectual leader. Tomorrow the papers would again mention the good sense and
persuasive personality of “America’s Handsomest University President”. Who
knew? Perhaps old Bidwell would come through with that swimming pool donation.

When the applause had ceased, the
chairman turned to where the center of the disturbance sat, hands folded over
his little round belly, face serene.

“Will you continue, Doctor

“Why should I?”

The chairman shrugged his
shoulders. “You came for that purpose.”

Pinero arose. “So true. So very
true. But was I wise to come? Is there anyone here who has an open mind, who
can stare a bare fact in the face without blushing? I think not. Even that so
beautiful gentleman who asked you to hear me out has already judged me and
condemned me. He seeks order, not truth. Suppose truth defies order, will he
accept it? Will you? I think not. Still, if I do not speak, you will win your
point by default. The little man in the street will think that you little men
have exposed me, Pinero, as a hoaxer, a pretender. That does not suit my plans.
I will speak."

“I will repeat my discovery. In
simple language I have invented a technique to tell how long a man will live. I
can give you advance billing of the Angel of Death. I can tell you when the
Black Camel will kneel at your door. In five minutes time with my apparatus I
can tell any of you how many grains of sand are still left in your hourglass.”
He paused and folded his arms across his chest. For a moment no one spoke. The
audience grew restless. Finally the chairman intervened.

“You aren’t finished, Doctor

“What more is there to say?”

“You haven’t told us how your
discovery works.”

Pinero’s eyebrows shot up. “You
suggest that I should turn over the fruits of my work for children to play
with. This is dangerous knowledge, my friend. I keep it for the man who
understands it, myself.” He tapped his chest.

“How are we to know that you have
anything back of your wild claims?”

“So simple. You send a committee
to watch me demonstrate. If it works, fine. You admit it and tell the world so.
If it does not work, I am discredited, and will apologize. Even I, Pinero, will

A slender stoop-shouldered man
stood up in the back of the hall. The chair recognized him and he spoke:

“Mr. Chairman, how can the eminent
doctor seriously propose such a course? Does he expect us to wait around for
twenty or thirty years for some one to die and prove his claims?”

Pinero ignored the chair and
answered directly:

“Pfui! Such nonsense! Are you so
ignorant of statistics that you do not know that in any large group there is at
least one who will die in the immediate future? I make you a proposition; let
me test each one of you in this room and I will name the man who will die
within the fortnight, yes, and the day and hour of his death.” He glanced
fiercely around the room. “Do you accept?”

Another figure got to his feet, a
portly man who spoke in measured syllables. “I, for one, can not countenance
such an experiment. As a medical man, I have noted with sorrow the plain marks
of serious heart trouble in many of our elder colleagues. If Doctor Pinero
knows those symptoms, as he may, and were he to select as his victim one of
their number, the man so selected would be likely to die on schedule, whether
the distinguished speaker’s mechanical egg-timer works or not.”

Another speaker backed him up at
once. “Doctor Shepard is right. Why should we waste time on voodoo tricks? It
is my belief that this person who calls himself Doctor Pinero wants to use this
body to give his statements authority. If we participate in this farce, we play
into his hands. I don’t know what his racket is, but you can bet that he has
figured out some way to use us for advertising for his schemes. I move, Mister
Chairman, that we proceed with our regular business.”

The motion carried by acclamation,
but Pinero did not sit down. Amidst cries of “Order! Order!” he shook his
untidy head at them, and had his say:

“Barbarians! Imbeciles! Stupid
dolts! Your kind have blocked the recognition of every great discovery since
time began. Such ignorant canaille are enough to start Galileo spinning in his
grave. That fat fool down there twiddling his elk’s tooth calls himself a
medical man. Witch doctor would be a better term! That little bald-headed runt
over there— You! You style yourself a philosopher, and prate about life and
time in your neat categories. What do you know of either one? How can you ever
learn when you won’t examine the truth when you have a chance? Bah!” He spat
upon the stage. “You call this an Academy of Science. I call it an undertaker’s
convention, interested only in embalming the ideas of your red-blooded

He paused for breath and was
grasped on each side by two members of the platform committee and rushed out
the wings. Several reporters arose hastily from the press table and followed
him. The chairman declared the meeting adjourned.

The newspapermen caught up with
him as he was going out by the stage door. He walked with a light springy step,
and whistled a little tune. There was no trace of the belligerence he had shown
a moment before. They crowded about him. “—How about an interview, doc?”

“What d'yu think of Modern

“You certainly told ‘em. What are
your views on Life after Death?”

“Take off your hat, doc, and look
at the birdie.”

He grinned at them all. “One at a
time, boys, and not so fast. I used to be a newspaperman myself. How about
coming up to my place, and we’ll talk about it?”

A few minutes later they were
trying to find places to sit down in Pinero’s messy bed-living-room, and
lighting his cigars. Pinero looked around and beamed. “What’ll it be, boys?
Scotch, or Bourbon?” When that was taken care of he got down to business. “Now,
boys, what do you want to know?”

“Lay it on the line, doc. Have you
got something, or haven’t you?”

“Most assuredly I have something,
my young friend.”

“Then tell us how it works. That
guff you handed the profs won’t get you anywhere now.”

“Please, my dear fellow. It is my
invention. I expect to make some money with it. Would you have me give it away
to the first person who asks for it?”

“See here, doc, you’ve got to give
us something if you expect to get a break in the morning papers. What do you
use? A crystal ball?”

“No, not quite; Would you like to
see my apparatus?”

“Sure. Now we are getting

He ushered them into an adjoining
room, and waved his hand. “There it is, boys.” The mass of equipment that met
their eyes vaguely resembled a medico’s office x-ray gear. Beyond the obvious
fact that it used electrical power, and that some of the dials were calibrated in
familiar terms, a casual inspection gave no clue to its actual use.

“What’s the principle, doc?”

Pinero pursed his lips and
considered. “No doubt you are all familiar with the truism that life is
electrical in nature? Well, that truism isn’t worth a damn, but it will help to
give you an idea of the principle. You have also been told that time is a
fourth dimension. Maybe you believe it, perhaps not. It has been said so many
times that it has ceased to have any meaning. It is simply a cliche that
windbags use to impress fools. But I want you to try to visualize it now and
try to feel it emotionally.”

He stepped up to one of the
reporters. “Suppose we take you as an example. Your name is Rogers, is it not?
Very well, Rogers, you are a space-time event having duration four ways. You
are not quite six feet tall, you are about twenty inches wide and perhaps ten
inches thick. In time, there stretches behind you more of this space-time event
reaching to perhaps nineteen-sixteen, of which we see a cross-section here at
right angles to the time axis, and as thick as the present. At the far end is a
baby, smelling of sour milk and drooling its breakfast on its bib. At the other
end lies, perhaps, an old man someplace in the nineteen-eighties. Imagine this
space-time event which we call Rogers as a long pink worm, continuous through
the years, one end at his mother’s womb, the other at the grave. It stretches
past us here and the cross-section we see appears as a single discrete body.
But that is illusion. There is physical continuity to this pink worm, enduring
through the years. As a matter of fact there is physical continuity in this
concept to the entire race, for these pink worms branch off from other pink
worms. In this fashion the race is like a vine whose branches intertwine and
send out shoots. Only by taking a cross-section of the vine would we fall into
the error of believing that the shootlets were discrete individuals.”

He paused and looked around at
their faces. One of them, a dour hardbitten chap, put in a word.

“That’s all very pretty, Pinero,
if true, but where does that get you?”

Pinero favored him with an
unresentful smile. “Patience, my friend. I asked you to think of life as
electrical. Now think of our long pink worm as a conductor of electricity. You have
heard, perhaps, of the fact that electrical engineers can, by certain
measurements, predict the exact location of a break in a trans-Atlantic cable
without ever leaving the shore. I do the same with our pink worms. By applying
my instruments to the cross-section here in this room I can tell where the
break occurs, that is to say, when death takes place. Or, if you like, I can
reverse the connections and tell you the date of your birth. But that is
uninteresting; you already know it.”

The dour individual sneered. “I’ve
caught you, doc. If what you said about the race being like a vine of pink
worms is true, you can’t tell birthdays because the connection with the race is
continuous at birth. Your electrical conductor reaches on back through the
mother into a man’s remotest ancestors.”

Pinero beamed. “True, and clever,
my friend. But you have pushed the analogy too far. It is not done in the
precise manner in which one measures the length of an electrical conductor. In
some ways it is more like measuring the length of a long corridor by bouncing
an echo off the far end. At birth there is a sort of twist in the corridor,
and, by proper calibration, I can detect the echo from that twist. There is
just one case in which I can get no determinant reading; when a woman is
actually carrying a child, I can’t sort out her life-line from that of the
unborn infant.“

“Let’s see you prove it.”

“Certainly, my dear friend. Will
you be a subject?”

One of the others spoke up. “He’s
called your bluff, Luke. Put up, or shut up.”

“I’m game. What do I do?”

“First write the date of your
birth on a sheet of paper, and hand it to one of your colleagues.”

Luke complied. “Now what?”

“Remove your outer clothing and
step upon these scales. Now tell me, were you ever very much thinner, or very
much fatter, than you are now. No? What did you weigh at birth? Ten pounds? A
fine bouncing baby boy. They don’t come so big any more.”

“What is all this flubdubbery?”

“I am trying to approximate the
average cross-section of our long pink conductor, my dear Luke. Now will you
seat yourself here. Then place this electrode in your mouth. No, it will not
hurt you; the voltage is quite low, less than one micro-volt, but I must have a
good connection.” The doctor left him and went behind his apparatus, where he
lowered a hood over his head before touching his controls. Some of the exposed
dials came to life and a low humming came from the machine. It stopped and the
doctor popped out of his little hideaway.

“I get sometime in February,
nineteen-twelve. Who has the piece of paper with the date?”

It was produced and unfolded. The
custodian read, “February 22nd, 1912.”

The stillness that followed was
broken by a voice from the edge of the little group. “Doc, can I have another

The tension relaxed, and several
spoke at once, “Try it on me, doc.”

“Me first, doc, I’m an orphan and
really want to know.”

“How about it, doc. Give us all a
little loose play.”

He smilingly complied, ducking in
and out of the hood like a gopher from its hole. When they all had twin slips
of paper to prove the doctor’s skill, Luke broke a long silence:

“How about showing how you predict
death, Pinero.”

“If you wish. Who will try it?”

No one answered. Several of them
nudged Luke forward. “Go ahead, smart guy. You asked for it.” He allowed
himself to be seated in the chair. Pinero changed some of the switches, then
entered the hood. When the humming ceased, he came out, rubbing his hands
briskly together.

“Well, that’s all there is to see,
boys. Got enough for a story?”

“Hey, what about the prediction?
When does Luke get his ‘thirty’?”

Luke faced him. “Yes, how about
it? What’s your answer?”

Pinero looked pained. “Gentlemen,
I am surprised at you. I give that information for a fee. Besides, it is a
professional confidence. I never tell anyone but the client who consults me.”

“I don’t mind. Go ahead and tell

“I am very sorry. I really must
refuse. I agreed only to show you how, not to give the results.”

Luke ground the butt of his
cigaret into the floor. “It’s a hoax, boys. He probably looked up the age of
every reporter in town just to be ready to pull this. It won’t wash, Pinero.”

Pinero gazed at him sadly. “Are
you married, my friend?”


“Do you have any one dependent on
you? Any close relatives?”

“No. Why, do you want to adopt

Pinero shook his head sadly. “I am
very sorry for you, my dear Luke. You will die before tomorrow.”






“… within twenty minutes of
Pinero’s strange prediction, Timons was struck by a falling sign while walking
down Broadway toward the offices of the Daily Herald where he was

“Doctor Pinero declined to comment
but confirmed the story that he had predicted Timons’ death by means of his
so-called chronovitameter. Chief of Police Roy…”

Does the FUTURE worry You????????
Don’t waste money on fortune tellers— Consult

Doctor Hugo Pinero, Bio-Consultant
to help you plan for the future by infallible scientific methods.

No Hocus-Pocus

No “Spirit” Messages

$10,000 Bond posted in forfeit to
back our predictions

Circular on request


Majestic Bldg., Suite 700


Legal goitre

To whom it may concern, greetings;
I, John Cabot Winthrop III, of the firm Winthrop, Winthrop, Ditmars &
Winthrop, Attorneys-at-Law, do affirm that Hugo Pinero of this city did hand to
me ten thousand dollars in lawful money of the United States, and instruct me
to place it in escrow with a chartered bank of my selection with escrow
instructions as follows:

The entire bond shall be forfeit,
and shall forthwith be paid to the first client of Hugo Pinero and/or Sands of
Time, Inc. who shall exceed his life tenure as predicted by Hugo Pinero by one
per centum, or to the estate of the first client who shall fail of such
predicted tenure in a like amount, whichever occurs first in point of time.

I do further affirm that I have
this day placed this bond in escrow with the above related instructions with
the Equitable-First National Bank of this city.

Subscribed and sworn, John Cabot
Winthrop III

Subscribed and sworn to before me
this 2nd day of April, 1951. Albert M. Swanson

Notary Public in and for this
county and state 

My commission expires June 17,

“Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Radio
Audience, let’s go to Press! Flash! Hugo Pinero, The Miracle Man from Nowhere,
has made his thousandth death prediction without a claimant for the reward he
posted for anyone who catches him failing to call the turn. With thirteen of
his clients already dead it is mathematically certain that he has a private
line to the main office of the Old Man with the Scythe. That is one piece of
news I don’t want to know before it happens. Your Coast-to-Coast Correspondent
will not be a client of Prophet Pinero…”

The judge’s watery baritone cut
through the stale air of the courtroom. “Please, Mr. Weems, let us return to
our muttons. This court granted your prayer for a temporary restraining order,
and now you ask that it be made permanent. In rebuttal, Mr. Pinero claims that
you have presented no cause and asks that the injunction be lifted, and that I
order your client to cease from attempts to interfere with what Pinero
describes as a simple lawful business. As you are not addressing a jury, please
omit the rhetoric and tell me in plain language why I should not grant his

Mr. Weems jerked his chin
nervously, making his flabby grey dewlap drag across his high stiff collar, and

“May it please the honorable
court, I represent the public—”

“Just a moment. I thought you were
appearing for Amalgamated Life Insurance.”

“I am, Your Honor, in a formal
sense. In a wider sense I represent several other of the major assurance,
fiduciary, and financial institutions; their stockholders, and policy holders,
who constitute a majority of the citizenry. In addition we feel that we protect
the interests of the entire population; unorganized, inarticulate, and
otherwise unprotected.”

“I thought that I represented the
public,” observed the judge drily. “I am afraid I must regard you as appearing
for your client-of-record. But continue; what is your thesis?”

The elderly barrister attempted to
swallow his Adam’s apple, then began again. “Your Honor, we contend that there
are two separate reasons why this injunction should be made permanent, and,
further, that each reason is sufficient alone. In the first place, this person
is engaged in the practice of soothsaying, an occupation proscribed both in
common law and statute. He is a common fortune teller, a vagabond charlatan who
preys on the gullibility of the public. He is cleverer than the ordinary gypsy
palm-reader, astrologer, or table tipper, and to the same extent more
dangerous. He makes false claims of modern scientific methods to give a
spurious dignity to his thaumaturgy. We have here in court leading
representatives of the Academy of Science to give expert witness as to the
absurdity of his claims.

“In the second place, even if this
person’s claims were true-granting for the sake of argument such an
absurdity”—Mr. Weems permitted himself a thin-lipped smile—“we contend that his
activities are contrary to the public interest in general, and unlawfully
injurious to the interests of my client in particular. We are prepared to
produce numerous exhibits with the legal custodians to prove that this person
did publish, or cause to have published, utterances urging the public to
dispense with the priceless boon of life insurance to the great detriment of
their welfare and to the financial damage of my client.”

Pinero arose in his place. “Your
Honor, may I say a few words?”

“What is it?”

“I believe I can simplify the
situation if permitted to make a brief analysis.”

“Your Honor,” cut in Weems, “this
is most irregular.”

“Patience, Mr. Weems. Your
interests will be protected. It seems to me that we need more light and less
noise in this matter. If Dr. Pinero can shorten the proceedings by speaking at
this time, I am inclined to let him. Proceed, Dr. Pinero.”

“Thank you, Your Honor. Taking the
last of Mr. Weems’ points first, I am prepared to stipulate that I published
the utterances he speaks of—”

“One moment, Doctor. You have
chosen to act as your own attorney. Are you sure you are competent to protect
your own interests?”

“I am prepared to chance it, Your
Honor. Our friends here can easily prove what I stipulate.”

“Very well. You may proceed.”

“I will stipulate that many
persons have cancelled life insurance policies as a result thereof, but I
challenge them to show that anyone so doing has suffered any loss or damage
therefrom. It is true that the Amalgamated has lost business through my
activities, but that is the natural result of my discovery, which has made
their policies as obsolete as the bow and arrow. If an injunction is granted on
that ground, I shall set up a coal oil lamp factory, then ask for an injunction
against the Edison and General Electric companies to forbid them to manufacture
incandescent bulbs.

“I will stipulate that I am
engaged in the business of making predictions of death, but I deny that I am
practicing magic, black, white, or rainbow colored. If to make predictions by
methods of scientific accuracy is illegal, then the actuaries of the
Amalgamated have been guilty for years in that they predict the exact
percentage that will die each year in any given large group. I predict death
retail; the Amalgamated predicts it wholesale. If their actions are legal, how
can mine be illegal?

“I admit that it makes a
difference whether I can do what I claim, or not; and I will stipulate that the
so-called expert witnesses from the Academy of Science will testify that I
cannot. But they know nothing of my method and cannot give truly expert
testimony on it—”

“Just a moment, Doctor. Mr. Weems,
is it true that your expert witnesses are not conversant with Dr. Pinero’s
theory and methods?”

Mr. Weems looked worried. He
drummed on the table top, then answered, “Will the Court grant me a few moments


Mr. Weems held a hurried whispered
consultation with his cohorts, then faced the bench. “We have a procedure to
suggest, Your Honor. If Dr. Pinero will take the stand and explain the theory
and practice of his alleged method, then these distinguished scientists will be
able to advise the Court as to the validity of his claims.”

The judge looked inquiringly at
Pinero, who responded, “I will not willingly agree to that. Whether my process
is true or false, it would be dangerous to let it fall into the hands of fools
and quacks—” he waved his hand at the group of professors seated in the front
row, paused and smiled maliciously “—as these gentlemen know quite well.
Furthermore it is not necessary to know the process in order to prove that it
will work. Is it necessary to understand the complex miracle of biological
reproduction in order to observe that a hen lays eggs? Is it necessary for me
to re-educate this entire body of self-appointed custodians of wisdom—cure them
of their ingrown superstitions—in order to prove that my predictions are
correct? There are but two ways of forming an opinion in science. One is the
scientific method; the other, the scholastic. One can judge from experiment, or
one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is
all important and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked
when it no longer fits. To the academic mind, authority is everything and facts
are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority.

“It is this point of view—academic
minds clinging like oysters to disproved theories—that has blocked every
advance of knowledge in history. I am prepared to prove my method by
experiment, and, like Galileo in another court, I insist, ‘It still moves!’

“Once before I offered such proof
to this same body of self-styled experts, and they rejected it. I renew my
offer; let me measure the life lengths of the members of the Academy of
Science. Let them appoint a committee to judge the results. I will seal my
findings in two sets of envelopes; on the outside of each envelope in one set
will appear the name of a member, on the inside the date of his death. In the
other envelopes I will place names, on the outside I will place dates. Let the
committee place the envelopes in a vault, then meet from time to time to open
the appropriate envelopes. In such a large body of men some deaths may be expected,
if Amalgamated actuaries can be trusted, every week or two. In such a fashion
they will accumulate data very rapidly to prove that Pinero is a liar, or no.”

He stopped, and pushed out his
little chest until it almost caught up with his little round belly. He glared
at the sweating savants. “Well?”

The judge raised his eyebrows, and
caught Mr. Weems’ eye. “Do you accept?”

“Your Honor, I think the proposal
highly improper—”

The judge cut him short. “I warn
you that I shall rule against you if you do not accept, or propose an equally
reasonable method of arriving at the truth.”

Weems opened his mouth, changed
his mind, looked up and down the faces of learned witnesses, and faced the
bench. “We accept, Your Honor.”

“Very well. Arrange the details
between you. The temporary injunction is lifted, and Dr. Pinero must not be
molested in the pursuit of his business. Decision on the petition for permanent
injunction is reserved without prejudice pending the accumulation of evidence.
Before we leave this matter I wish to comment on the theory implied by you, Mr.
Weems, when you claimed damage to your client. There has grown up in the minds
of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation
has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and
the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future,
even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This
strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals
nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of
history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit. That is all.”

Bidwell grunted in annoyance.
“Weems, if you can’t think up anything better than that, Amalgamated is going
to need a new chief attorney. It’s been ten weeks since you lost the
injunction, and that little wart is coining money hand over fist. Meantime
every insurance firm in the country is going broke. Hoskins, what’s our loss

“It’s hard to say, Mr. Bidwell. It
gets worse every day. We’ve paid off thirteen big policies this week; all of
them taken out since Pinero started operations.”

A spare little man spoke up. “I
say, Bidwell, we aren’t accepting any new applications for United until we have
time to check and be sure that they have not consulted Pinero. Can’t we afford
to wait until the scientists show him up?”

Bidwell snorted. “You blasted
optimist! They won’t show him up. Aldrich, can’t you face a fact? The fat
little blister has got something; how I don’t know. This is a fight to the
finish. If we wait, we’re licked.” He threw his cigar into a cuspidor, and bit
savagely into a fresh one. “Clear out of here, all of you! I’ll handle this my
own way. You too, Aldrich. United may wait, but Amalgamated won’t.”

Weems cleared his throat
apprehensively. “Mr. Bidwell, I trust you will consult with me before embarking
on any major change in policy?”

Bidwell grunted. They filed out.
When they were all gone and the door closed, Bidwell snapped the switch of the
inter-office announcer. “O.K.; send him in.”

The outer door opened; a slight
dapper figure stood for a moment at the threshold. His small dark eyes glanced
quickly about the room before he entered, then he moved up to Bidwell with a
quick soft tread. He spoke to Bidwell in a flat emotionless voice. His face
remained impassive except for the live animal eyes. “You wanted to talk to me?”


“What’s the proposition?”

“Sit down, and we’ll talk.”

Pinero met the young couple at the
door of his inner office.

“Come in, my dears, come in. Sit
down. Make yourselves at home. Now tell me, what do you want of Pinero? Surely
such young people are not anxious about the final roll call?”

The boy’s honest young face showed
slight confusion. “Well, you see, Dr. Pinero, I’m Ed Hartley and this is my
wife, Betty. We’re going to have-that is, Betty is expecting a baby and, well—”

Pinero smiled benignly. “I
understand. You want to know how long you will live in order to make the best
possible provision for the youngster. Quite wise. Do you both want readings, or
just yourself?”

The girl answered, “Both of us, we

Pinero beamed at her. “Quite so. I
agree. Your reading presents certain technical difficulties at this time, but I
can give you some information now, and more later after your baby arrives. Now
come into my laboratory, my dears, and we’ll commence.” He rang for their case
histories, then showed them into his workshop. “Mrs. Hartley first, please. If
you will go behind that screen and remove your shoes and your outer clothing,
please. Remember, I am an old man, whom you are consulting as you would a

He turned away and made some minor
adjustments of his apparatus. Ed nodded to his wife who slipped behind the
screen and reappeared almost at once, clothed in two wisps of silk. Pinero
glanced up, noted her fresh young prettiness and her touching shyness.

“This way, my dear. First we must
weigh you. There. Now take your place on the stand. This electrode in your
mouth. No, Ed, you mustn’t touch her while she is in the circuit. It won’t take
a minute. Remain quiet.”

He dove under the machine’s hood
and the dials sprang into life. Very shortly he came out with a perturbed look
on his face. “Ed, did you touch her?”

“No, Doctor.” Pinero ducked back again,
remained a little longer. When he came out this time, he told the girl to get
down and dress. He turned to her husband.

“Ed, make yourself ready.”

“What’s Betty’s reading, Doctor?”

“There is a little difficulty. I
want to test you first.”

When he came out from taking the
youth’s reading, his face was more troubled than ever. Ed inquired as to his
trouble. Pinero shrugged his shoulders, and brought a smile to his lips.

“Nothing to concern you, my boy. A
little mechanical misadjustment, I think. But I shan’t be able to give you two
your readings today. I shall need to overhaul my machine. Can you come back

“Why, I think so. Say, I’m sorry
about your machine. I hope it isn’t serious.”

“It isn’t, I’m sure. Will you come
back into my office, and visit for a bit?”

“Thank you, Doctor. You are very

“But Ed, I’ve got to meet Ellen.”

Pinero turned the full force of
his personality on her. “Won’t you grant me a few moments, my dear young lady?
I am old and like the sparkle of young folk’s company. I get very little of it.
Please.” He nudged them gently into his office, and seated them. Then he
ordered lemonade and cookies sent in, offered them cigarets, and lit a cigar.

Forty minutes later Ed listened
entranced, while Betty was quite evidently acutely nervous and anxious to
leave, as the doctor spun out a story concerning his adventures as a young man
in Tierra del Fuego. When the doctor stopped to relight his cigar, she stood

“Doctor, we really must leave.
Couldn’t we hear the rest tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow? There will not be time

“But you haven’t time today
either. Your secretary has rung five times.”

“Couldn’t you spare me just a few
more minutes?”

“I really can’t today, doctor. I
have an appointment. There is someone waiting for me.”

“There is no way to induce you?”

“I’m afraid not. Come, Ed.”

After they had gone, the doctor
stepped to the window and stared out over the city. Presently he picked out two
tiny figures as they left the office building. He watched them hurry to the
corner, wait for the lights to change, then start across the street. When they
were part way across, there came the scream of a siren. The two little figures
hesitated, started back, stopped, and turned. Then the car was upon them. As
the car slammed to a stop, they showed up from beneath it, no longer two
figures, but simply a limp unorganized heap of clothing.

Presently the doctor turned away
from the window. Then he picked up his phone, and spoke to his secretary.

“Cancel my appointments for the
rest of the day… No… No one… I don’t care; cancel them.”

Then he sat down in his chair. His
cigar went out. Long after dark he held it, still unlighted.

Pinero sat down at his dining
table and contemplated the gourmet’s luncheon spread before him. He had ordered
this meal with particular care, and had come home a little early in order to
enjoy it fully.

Somewhat later he let a few drops
of Fiori d’Alpini roll around his tongue and trickle down his throat. The heavy
fragrant syrup warmed his mouth, and reminded him of the little mountain
flowers for which it was named. He sighed. It had been a good meal, an
exquisite meal and had justified the exotic liqueur. His musing was interrupted
by a disturbance at the front door. The voice of his elderly maidservant was
raised in remonstrance. A heavy male voice interrupted her. The commotion moved
down the hall and the dining room door was pushed open.

“Madonna! Non si puo entrare! The
Master is eating!”

“Never mind, Angela. I have time
to see these gentlemen. You may go.” Pinero faced the surly-faced spokesman of
the intruders. “You have business with me; yes?”

“You bet we have. Decent people
have had enough of your damned nonsense.”

“And so?”

The caller did not answer at once.
A smaller dapper individual moved out from behind him and faced Pinero.


“We might as well begin.” The
chairman of the committee placed a key in the lock-box and opened it. “Wenzell,
will you help me pick out today’s envelopes?” He was interrupted by a touch on
his arm.

“Dr. Baird, you are wanted on the

“Very well. Bring the instrument

When it was fetched he placed the
receiver to his ear. “Hello… Yes; speaking… What?… No, we have heard nothing…
Destroyed the machine, you say… Dead! How?… No! No statement. None at all… Call
me later…”

He slammed the instrument down and
pushed it from him.

“What’s up?” “Who’s dead now?”

Baird held up one hand. “Quiet,
gentlemen, please! Pinero was murdered a few moments ago at his home.”


“That isn’t all. About the same
time vandals broke into his office and smashed his apparatus.”

No one spoke at first. The
committee members glanced around at each other. No one seemed anxious to be the
first to comment.

Finally one spoke up. “Get it

“Get what out?”

“Pinero’s envelope. It’s in there
too. I’ve seen it.”

Baird located it and slowly tore
it open. He unfolded the single sheet of paper, and scanned it.

“Well? Out with it!”

“One thirteen p.m.—today.”

They took this in silence.

Their dynamic calm was broken by a
member across the table from Baird reaching for the lock-box. Baird interposed
a hand.

“What do you want?”

“My prediction—it’s in there—we’re
all in there.”

“Yes, yes. We’re all in here.
Let’s have them.”

Baird placed both hands over the
box. He held the eye of the man opposite him but did not speak. He licked his
lips. The corner of his mouth twitched. His hands shook. Still he did not
speak. The man opposite relaxed back into his chair.

“You’re right, of course,” he

“Bring me that waste basket.”
Baird’s voice was low and strained but steady.

He accepted it and dumped the
litter on the rug. He placed the tin basket on the table before him. He tore
half a dozen envelopes across, set a match to them, and dropped them in the
basket. Then he started tearing a double handful at a time, and fed the fire
steadily. The smoke made him cough, and tears ran out of his smarting eyes.
Someone got up and opened a window. When he was through, he pushed the basket
away from him, looked down, and spoke.

“I’m afraid I’ve ruined this table


[bookmark: misfit]Misfit


“… for the purpose of
conserving and improving our interplanetary resources, and providing useful,
healthful occupations for the youth of this planet.”

Excerpt from the enabling act,
H.R. 7118, setting up the Cosmic Construction Corps.


“Attention to muster!” The parade
ground voice of a First Sergeant of Space Marines cut through the fog and
drizzle of a nasty New Jersey morning. “As your names are called, answer
‘Here’, step forward with your baggage, and embark. Atkins!”






One by one they fell out of ranks,
shouldered the hundred and thirty pounds of personal possessions allowed them,
and trudged up the gangway. They were young—none more than twenty-two—in some
cases luggage outweighed the owner.






“Here!” A thin gangling blonde had
detached himself from the line, hastily wiped his nose, and grabbed his
belongings. He slung a fat canvas bag over his shoulder, steadied it, and
lifted a suitcase with his free hand. He started for the companionway in an
unsteady dog trot. As he stepped on the gangway his suitcase swung against his
knees. He staggered against a short wiry form dressed in the powder-blue of the
Space Navy. Strong fingers grasped his arm and checked his fall.

"Steady, son. Easy does it."
Another hand readjusted the canvas bag.

"Oh, excuse me,
uh“—the embarrassed youngster automatically counted the four bands of silver
braid below the shooting star—”Captain. I didn’t—“

“Bear a hand and get aboard, son.”

“Yes, sir.”

The passage into the bowels of the
transport was gloomy. When the lad’s eyes adjusted he saw a gunner’s mate
wearing the brassard of a Master-at-Arms, who hooked a thumb towards an open
air-tight door.

“In there. Find your locker and
wait by it.” Libby hurried to obey. Inside he found a jumble of baggage and men
in a wide low-ceilinged compartment. A line of glow-tubes ran around the
junction of bulkhead and ceiling and trisected the overhead; the soft roar of
blowers made a background to the voices of his shipmates. He picked his way
through heaped luggage and located his locker, seven-ten, on the far wall
outboard. He broke the seal on the combination lock, glanced at the
combination, and opened it. The locker was very small, the middle of a tier of
three. He considered what he should keep in it. A loudspeaker drowned out the
surrounding voices and demanded his attention:

“Attention! Man all space details;
first section. Raise ship in twelve minutes. Close air-tight doors. Stop
blowers at minus two minutes. Special orders for passengers; place all gear on
deck, and lie down on red signal light. Remain down until release is sounded.
Masters-at-Arms check compliance.”

The gunner’s mate popped in,
glanced around and immediately commenced supervising rearrangement of the
baggage. Heavy items were lashed down. Locker doors were closed. By the time
each boy had found a place on the deck and the Master-at-Arms had okayed the
pad under his head, the glow-tubes turned red and the loudspeaker brayed out.

“All hands—Up Ship! Stand by for
acceleration.” The Master-at-Arms hastily reclined against two cruise bags, and
watched the room. The blowers sighed to a stop. There followed two minutes of
dead silence. Libby felt his heart commence to pound. The two minutes stretched
interminably. Then the deck quivered and a roar like escaping high-pressure
steam beat at his ear drums. He was suddenly very heavy and a weight lay across
his chest and heart. An indefinite time later the glow-tubes flashed white, and
the announcer bellowed:

“Secure all getting underway
details; regular watch, first section.” The blowers droned into life. The
Master-at-Arms stood up, rubbed his buttocks and pounded his arms, then said:

“Okay, boys.” He stepped over and
undogged the airtight door to the passageway. Libby got up and blundered into a
bulkhead, nearly falling. His legs and arms had gone to sleep, besides which he
felt alarmingly light, as if he had sloughed off at least half of his
inconsiderable mass.

For the next two hours he was too
busy to think, or to be homesick. Suitcases, boxes, and bags had to be passed
down into the lower hold and lashed against angular acceleration. He located
and learned how to use a waterless water closet. He found his assigned bunk and
learned that it was his only eight hours in twenty-four; two other boys had the
use of it too. The three sections ate in three shifts, nine shifts in
all—twenty-four youths and a master-at-arms at one long table which jam-filled
a narrow compartment off the galley.

After lunch Libby restowed his
locker. He was standing before it, gazing at a photograph which he intended to
mount on the inside of the locker door, when a command filled the compartment:


Standing inside the door was the
Captain flanked by the Master-at-Arms. The Captain commenced to speak. “At
rest, men. Sit down. McCoy, tell control to shift this compartment to smoke
filter.” The gunner’s mate hurried to the communicator on the bulkhead and
spoke into it in a low tone. Almost at once the hum of the blowers climbed a
half-octave and stayed there. “Now light up if you like. I’m going to talk to

“You boys are headed out on the
biggest thing so far in your lives. From now on you’re men, with one of the
hardest jobs ahead of you that men have ever tackled. What we have to do is
part of a bigger scheme. You, and hundreds of thousands of others like you, are
going out as pioneers to fix up the solar system so that human beings can make
better use of it.

“Equally important, you are being
given a chance to build yourselves into useful and happy citizens of the
Federation. For one reason or another you weren’t happily adjusted back on
Earth. Some of you saw the jobs you were trained for abolished by new
inventions. Some of you got into trouble from not knowing what to do with the
modern leisure. In any case you were misfits. Maybe you were called bad boys
and had a lot of black marks chalked up against you.

“But everyone of you starts even
today. The only record you have in this ship is your name at the top of a blank
sheet of paper. It’s up to you what goes on that page.

“Now about our job—We didn’t get
one of the easy repair-and-recondition jobs on the Moon, with week-ends at Luna
City, and all the comforts of home. Nor did we draw a high-gravity planet where
a man can eat a full meal and expect to keep it down. Instead we’ve got to go
out to Asteroid HS-5388 and turn it into Space Station E-M3. She has no
atmosphere at all, and only about two per cent Earth-surface gravity. We’ve got
to play human fly on her for at least six months, no girls to date, no
television, no recreation that you don’t devise yourselves, and hard work every
day. You’ll get space sick, and so homesick you can taste it, and agoraphobia.
If you aren’t careful you’ll get ray-burnt. Your stomach will act up, and
you’ll wish to God you’d never enrolled.

“But if you behave yourself, and
listen to the advice of the old spacemen, you’ll come out of it strong and
healthy, with a little credit stored up in the bank, and a lot of knowledge and
experience that you wouldn’t get in forty years on Earth. You’ll be men, and
you’ll know it.

“One last word. It will be pretty
uncomfortable to those that aren’t used to it. Just give the other fellow a
little consideration, and you’ll get along all right. If you have any complaint
and can’t get satisfaction any other way, come see me. Otherwise, that’s all.
Any questions?”

One of the boys put up his hand.
“Captain?” he enquired timidly.

“Speak up, lad, and give your

“Rogers, sir. Will we be able to
get letters from home?”

“Yes, but not very often. Maybe
every month or so. The chaplain will carry mail, and any inspection and supply

The ship’s loudspeaker blatted
out, “All hands! Free flight in ten minutes. Stand by to lose weight.” The
Master-at-Arms supervised the rigging of grab-lines. All loose gear was made
fast, and little cellulose bags were issued to each man. Hardly was this done
when Libby felt himself get light on his feet—a sensation exactly like that
experienced when an express elevator makes a quick stop on an upward trip,
except that the sensation continued and became more intense. At first it was a
pleasant novelty, then it rapidly became distressing. The blood pounded in his
ears, and his feet were clammy and cold. His saliva secreted at an abnormal
rate. He tried to swallow, choked, and coughed. Then his stomach shuddered and
contracted with a violent, painful, convulsive reflex and he was suddenly,
disastrously nauseated. After the first excruciating spasm, he heard McCoy’s
voice shouting.

“Hey! Use your sick-kits like I
told you. Don’t let that stuff get in the blowers.” Dimly Libby realized that
the admonishment included him. He fumbled for his cellulose bag just as a
second temblor shook him, but he managed to fit the bag over his mouth before
the eruption occurred. When it subsided, he became aware that he was floating
near the overhead and facing the door. The chief Master-at-Arms slithered in
the door and spoke to McCoy.

“How are you making out?”

“Well enough. Some of the boys
missed their kits.”

“Okay. Mop it up. You can use the
starboard lock.” He swam out.

McCoy touched Libby’s arm. “Here,
Pinkie, start catching them butterflies.” He handed him a handful of cotton
waste, then took another handful himself and neatly dabbed up a globule of the
slimy filth that floated about the compartment. “Be sure your sick-kit is on
tight. When you get sick, just stop and wait until it’s over.” Libby imitated
him as best as he could. In a few minutes the room was free of the worst of the
sickening debris. McCoy looked it over, and spoke:

“Now peel off them dirty duds, and
change your kits. Three or four of you bring everything along to the starboard

At the starboard spacelock, the
kits were put in first, the inner door closed, and the outer opened. When the
inner door was opened again the kits were gone-blown out into space by the
escaping air. Pinkie addressed McCoy, “Do we have to throw away our dirty
clothes too?”

“Huh uh, we’ll just give them a
dose of vacuum. Take ‘em into the lock and stop ’em to those hooks on the
bulkheads. Tie ‘em tight.”

This time the lock was left closed
for about five minutes. When the lock was opened the garments were bone dry—all
the moisture boiled out by the vacuum of space. All that remained of the
unpleasant rejecta was a sterile powdery residue. McCoy viewed them with
approval. “They’ll do. Take them back to the compartment. Then brush
them—hard—in front of the exhaust blowers.”

The next few days were an eternity
of misery. Homesickness was forgotten in the all-engrossing wretchedness of
spacesickness. The Captain granted fifteen minutes of mild acceleration for
each of the nine meal periods, but the respite accentuated the agony. Libby
would go to a meal, weak and ravenously hungry. The meal would stay down until
free flight was resumed, then the sickness would hit him all over again.

On the fourth day he was seated
against a bulkhead, enjoying the luxury of a few remaining minutes of weight
while the last shift ate, when McCoy walked in and sat down beside him. The gunner’s
mate fitted a smoke filter over his face and lit a cigarette. He inhaled deeply
and started to chat.

“How’s it going, bud?”

“All right, I guess. This
spacesickness— Say, McCoy, how do you ever get used to it?”

“You get over it in time. Your
body acquires new reflexes, so they tell me. Once you learn to swallow without
choking, you’ll be all right. You even get so you like it. It’s restful and
relaxing. Four hours sleep is as good as ten.”

Libby shook his head dolefully. “I
don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”

‘Yes, you will. You’d better
anyway. This here asteroid won’t have any surface gravity to speak of; the
Chief Quartermaster says it won’t run over two per cent Earth normal. That
ain’t enough to cure spacesickness. And there won’t be any way to accelerate
for meals either.“

Libby shivered and held his head
between his hands.

Locating one asteroid among a
couple of thousand is not as easy as finding Trafalgar Square in
London—especially against the star-crowded backdrop of the galaxy. You take off
from Terra with its orbital speed of about nineteen miles per second. You
attempt to settle into a composite conoid curve that will not only intersect
the orbit of the tiny fast-moving body, but also accomplish an exact
rendezvous. Asteroid HS-5388, ‘Eighty-eight,’ lay about two and two-tenths
astronomical units out from the sun, a little more than two hundred million
miles; when the transport took off it lay beyond the sun better than three
hundred million miles. Captain Doyle instructed the navigator to plot the basic
ellipsoid to tack in free flight around the sun through an elapsed distance of
some three hundred and forty million miles. The principle involved is the same
as used by a hunter to wing a duck in flight by ‘leading’ the bird in flight. But
suppose that you face directly into the sun as you shoot; suppose the bird can
not be seen from where you stand, and you have nothing to aim by but some old
reports as to how it was flying when last seen?

On the ninth day of the passage
Captain Doyle betook himself to the chart room and commenced punching keys on
the ponderous integral calculator. Then he sent his orderly to present his
compliments to the navigator and to ask him to come to the chartroom. A few
minutes later a tall heavyset form swam through the door, steadied himself with
a grabline and greeted the captain.

“Good morning, Skipper.”

“Hello, Blackie.” The Old Man
looked up from where he was strapped into the integrator’s saddle. “I’ve been
checking your corrections for the meal time accelerations.”

“It’s a nuisance to have a bunch
of ground-lubbers on board, sir.”

“Yes, it is, but we have to give
those boys a chance to eat, or they couldn’t work when we got there. Now I want
to decelerate starting about ten o’clock, ship’s time. What’s our eight o’clock
speed and co-ordinates?”

The Navigator slipped a notebook
out of his tunic. “Three hundred fifty-eight miles per second; course is right
ascension fifteen hours, eight minutes, twenty-seven seconds, declination minus
seven degrees, three minutes; solar distance one hundred and ninety-two million
four hundred eighty thousand miles. Our radial position is twelve degrees above
course, and almost dead on course in R.A. Do you want Sol’s co-ordinates?”

“No, not now.” The captain bent
over the calculator, frowned and chewed the tip of his tongue as he worked the
controls. “I want you to kill the acceleration about one million miles inside
Eighty-eight’s orbit. I hate to waste the fuel, but the belt is full of junk
and this damned rock is so small that we will probably have to run a search
curve. Use twenty hours on deceleration and commence changing course to port
after eight hours. Use normal asymptotic approach. You should have her in a
circular trajectory abreast of Eighty-eight, and paralleling her orbit by six
o’clock tomorrow morning. I shall want to be called at three.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

“Let me see your figures when you
get ‘em. I’ll send up the order book later.”

The transport accelerated on
schedule. Shortly after three the Captain entered the control room and blinked
his eyes at the darkness. The sun was still concealed by the hull of the
transport and the midnight blackness was broken only by the dim blue glow of
the instrument dials, and the crack of light from under the chart hood. The
Navigator turned at the familiar tread.

“Good morning, Captain.”

“Morning, Blackie. In sight yet?”

“Not yet. We’ve picked out half a
dozen rocks, but none of them checked.”

“Any of them close?”

“Not uncomfortably. We’ve
overtaken a little sand from time to time.”

“That can’t hurt us—not on a stern
chase like this. If pilots would only realize that the asteroids flow in fixed
directions at computable speeds nobody would come to grief out here.” He
stopped to light a cigarette. “People talk about space being dangerous. Sure,
it used to be; but I don’t know of a case in the past twenty years that
couldn’t be charged up to some fool’s recklessness.”

“You’re right, Skipper. By the
way, there’s coffee under the chart hood.”

“Thanks; I had a cup down below.”
He walked over by the lookouts at stereoscopes and radar tanks and peered up at
the star-flecked blackness. Three cigarettes later the lookout nearest him
called out.

“Light ho!”

“Where away?”

His mate read the exterior dials
of the stereoscope. “Plus point two, abaft one point three, slight drift
astern.” He shifted to radar and added, “Range seven nine oh four three.”

“Does that check?”

“Could be, Captain. What is her
disk?” came the Navigator’s muffled voice from under the hood. The first
lookout hurriedly twisted the knobs of his instrument, but the Captain nudged
him aside.

“I’ll do this, son.” He fitted his
face to the double eye guards and surveyed a little silvery sphere, a tiny
moon. Carefully he brought two illuminated cross-hairs up until they were
exactly tangent to the upper and lower limbs of the disk. “Mark!”

The reading was noted and passed
to the Navigator, who shortly ducked out from under the hood.

“That’s our baby, Captain.”


“Shall I make a visual

“Let the watch officer do that.
You go down and get some sleep. I’ll ease her over until we get close enough to
use the optical range finder.”

“Thanks, I will.”

Within a few minutes the word had
spread around the ship that Eighty-eight had been sighted. Libby crowded into
the starboard troop deck with a throng of excited mess mates and attempted to
make out their future home from the view port. McCoy poured cold water on their

“By the time that rock shows up
big enough to tell anything about it with your naked eye we’ll all be at our
grounding stations. She’s only about a hundred miles thick, yuh know.”

And so it was. Many hours later
the ship’s announcer shouted:

“All hands! Man your grounding
stations. Close all air-tight doors. Stand by to cut blowers on signal.”

McCoy forced them to lie down
throughout the ensuing two hours. Short shocks of rocket blasts alternated with
nauseating weightlessness. Then the blowers stopped and check valves clicked
into their seats. The ship dropped free for a few moments—a final quick blast—five
seconds of falling, and a short, light, grinding bump. A single bugle note came
over the announcer, and the blowers took up their hum.

McCoy floated lightly to his feet
and poised, swaying, on his toes. “All out, troops—this is the end of the

A short chunky lad, a little
younger than most of them, awkwardly emulated him, and bounded toward the door,
shouting as he went, “Come on, fellows! Let’s go outside and explore!”

The Master-at-Arms squelched him.
“Not so fast, kid. Aside from the fact that there is no air out there, go right
ahead. You’ll freeze to death, burn to death, and explode like a ripe tomato.
Squad leader, detail six men to break out spacesuits. The rest of you stay here
and stand by.”

The working party returned shortly
loaded down with a couple of dozen bulky packages. Libby let go the four he
carried and watched them float gently to the deck. McCoy unzipped the envelope
from one suit, and lectured them about it.

“This is a standard service type,
general issue, Mark IV, Modification 2.” He grasped the suit by the shoulders
and shook it out so that it hung like a suit of long winter underwear with the
helmet lolling helplessly between the shoulders of the garment. “It’s
self-sustaining for eight hours, having an oxygen supply for that period. It
also has a nitrogen trim tank and a carbon-dioxide-water-vapor cartridge

He droned on, repeating
practically verbatim the description and instructions given in training
regulations. McCoy knew these suits like his tongue knew the roof of his mouth;
the knowledge had meant his life on more than one occasion.

“The suit is woven from glass
fibre laminated with non-volatile asbesto-cellutite. The resulting fabric is
flexible, very durable; and will turn all rays normal to solar space outside
the orbit of Mercury. It is worn over your regular clothing, but notice the
wire-braced accordion pleats at the major joints. They are so designed as to
keep the internal volume of the suit nearly constant when the arms or legs are
bent. Otherwise the gas pressure inside would tend to keep the suit blown up in
an erect position, and movement while wearing the suit would be very fatiguing.

“The helmet is moulded from a
transparent silicone, leaded and polarized against too great ray penetration.
It may be equipped with external visors of any needed type. Orders are to wear
not less than a number-two amber on this body. In addition, a lead plate covers
the cranium and extends on down the back of the suit, completely covering the
spinal column.

“The suit is equipped with two-way
telephony. If your radio quits, as these have a habit of doing, you can talk by
putting your helmets in contact. Any questions?”

“How do you eat and drink during
the eight hours?”

“You don’t stay in ‘em any eight
hours. You can carry sugar balls in a gadget in the helmet, but you boys will
always eat at the base. As for water, there’s a nipple in the helmet near your
mouth which you can reach by turning your head to the left. It’s hooked to a
built-in canteen. But don’t drink any more water when you’re wearing a suit
than you have to. These suits ain’t got any plumbing.”

Suits were passed out to each lad,
and McCoy illustrated how to don one. A suit was spread supine on the deck, the
front zipper that stretched from neck to crotch was spread wide and one sat
down inside this opening, whereupon the lower part was drawn on like long
stockings. Then a wiggle into each sleeve and the heavy flexible gauntlets were
smoothed and patted into place. Finally an awkward backward stretch of the neck
with shoulders hunched enabled the helmet to be placed over the head.

Libby followed the motions of
McCoy and stood up in his suit. He examined the zipper which controlled the
suit’s only opening. It was backed by two soft gaskets which would be pressed
together by the zipper and sealed by internal air pressure. Inside the helmet a
composition mouthpiece for exhalation led to the filter.

McCoy bustled around, inspecting
them, tightening a belt here and there, instructing them in the use of the
external controls. Satisfied, he reported to the conning room that his section
had received basic instruction and was ready to disembark. Permission was
received to take them out for thirty minutes acclimatization.

Six at a time, he escorted them
through the air lock, and out on the surface of the planetoid. Libby blinked
his eyes at the unaccustomed luster of sunshine on rock. Although the sun lay
more than two hundred million miles away and bathed the little planet with
radiation only one fifth as strong as that lavished on mother Earth,
nevertheless the lack of atmosphere resulted in a glare that made him squint.
He was glad to have the protection of his amber visor. Overhead the sun, shrunk
to penny size, shone down from a dead black sky in which unwinking stars crowded
each other and the very sun itself.

The voice of a mess mate sounded
in Libby’s earphones, “Jeepers! That horizon looks close. I’ll bet it ain’t
more’n a mile away.”

Libby looked out over the flat
bare plain and subconsciously considered the matter. “It’s less,” he commented,
“than a third of a mile away.”

“What the hell do you know about
it, Pinkie? And who asked you, anyhow?”

Libby answered defensively, “As a
matter of fact, it’s one thousand six hundred and seventy feet, figuring that
my eyes are five feet three inches above ground level.”

“Nuts. Pinkie, you are always
trying to show off how much you think you know.”

“Why, I am not,” Libby protested.
“If this body is a hundred miles thick and as round as it looks: why, naturally
the horizon has to be just that far away.”

“Says who?”

McCoy interrupted.

“Pipe down! Libby is a lot nearer
right than you were.”

“He is exactly right,” put in a
strange voice. “I had to look it up for the navigator before I left control.”

“Is that so?”—McCoy’s voice
again—“If the Chief Quartermaster says you’re right, Libby, you’re right. How
did you know?”

Libby flushed miserably. “I—I
don’t know. That’s the only way it could be.”

The gunner’s mate and the
quartermaster stared at him but dropped the subject.

By the end of the ‘day’ (ship’s
time, for Eighty-eight had a period of eight hours and thirteen minutes), work
was well under way. The transport had grounded close by a low range of hills.
The Captain selected a little bowl-shaped depression in the hills, some
thousand feet long and half as broad, in which to establish a permanent camp.
This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided.

In the hill between the ship and
the valley, quarters were to be excavated; dormitories, mess hall, officers’
quarters, sick bay, recreation room, offices, store rooms, and so forth. A
tunnel must be bored through the hill, connecting the sites of these rooms, and
connecting with a ten foot airtight metal tube sealed to the ship’s portside
air-lock. Both the tube and tunnel were to be equipped with a continuous
conveyor belt for passengers and freight.

Libby found himself assigned to
the roofing detail. He helped a metal-smith struggle over the hill with a
portable atomic heater, difficult to handle because of a mass of eight hundred
pounds, but weighing here only sixteen pounds. The rest of the roofing detail
were breaking out and preparing to move by hand the enormous translucent tent
which was to be the ‘sky’ of the little valley.

The metalsmith located a landmark
on the inner slope of the valley, set up his heater, and commenced cutting a
deep horizontal groove or step in the rock. He kept it always at the same level
by following a chalk mark drawn along the rock wall. Libby enquired how the job
had been surveyed so quickly.

“Easy,” he was answered, “two of
the quartermasters went ahead with a transit, leveled it just fifty feet above
the valley floor, and clamped a searchlight to it. Then one of ‘em ran like
hell around the rim, making chalk marks at the height at which the beam struck.”

“Is this roof going to be just
fifty feet high?”

“No, it will average maybe a
hundred. It bellies up in the middle from the air pressure.”

“Earth normal?”

“Half Earth normal.”

Libby concentrated for an instant,
then looked puzzled. “But look— This valley is a thousand feet long and better
than five hundred wide. At half of fifteen pounds per square inch, and allowing
for the arch of the roof, that’s a load of one and an eighth billion pounds.
What fabric can take that kind of a load?”



“Yeah, cobwebs. Strongest stuff in
the world, stronger than the best steel. Synthetic spider silk. This gauge
we’re using for the roof has a tensile strength of four thousand pounds a
running inch.”

Libby hesitated a second, then
replied, “I see. With a rim about eighteen hundred thousand inches around, the
maximum pull at the point of anchoring would be about six hundred and
twenty-five pounds per inch. Plenty safe margin.”

The metalsmith leaned on his tool
and nodded. “Something like that. You’re pretty quick at arithmetic, aren’t
you, bud?”

Libby looked startled. “I just
like to get things straight.”

They worked rapidly around the
slope, cutting a clean smooth groove to which the ‘cobweb’ could be anchored
and sealed. The white-hot lava spewed out of the discharge vent and ran slowly
down the hillside. A brown vapor boiled off the surface of the molten rock,
arose a few feet and sublimed almost at once in the vacuum to white powder
which settled to the ground. The metalsmith pointed to the powder.

“That stuff ‘ud cause silicosis if
we let it stay there, and breathed it later.”

“What do you do about it?”

“Just clean it out with the
blowers of the air conditioning plant.”

Libby took this opening to ask
another question. “Mister—?”

“Johnson’s my name. No mister

“Well, Johnson, where do we get
the air for this whole valley, not to mention the tunnels? I figure we must
need twenty-five million cubic feet or more. Do we manufacture it?”

“Naw, that’s too much trouble. We
brought it with us.”

“On the transport?”

“Uh huh, at fifty atmospheres.”

Libby considered this. “I see—that
way it would go into a space eighty feet on a side.”

“Matter of fact it’s in three
specially constructed holds—giant air bottles. This transport carried air to
Ganymede. I was in her then—a recruit, but in the air gang even then.”

In three weeks the permanent camp
was ready for occupancy and the transport cleared of its cargo. The storerooms
bulged with tools and supplies. Captain Doyle had moved his administrative
offices underground, signed over his command to his first officer, and given
him permission to proceed on ‘duty assigned’—in this case; return to Terra with
a skeleton crew.

Libby watched them take off from a
vantage point on the hillside. An overpowering homesickness took possession of
him. Would he ever go home? He honestly believed at the time that he would swap
the rest of his life for thirty minutes each with his mother and with Betty.

He started down the hill toward
the tunnel lock. At least the transport carried letters to them, and with any
luck the chaplain would be by soon with letters from Earth. But tomorrow and
the days after that would be no fun. He had enjoyed being in the air gang, but
tomorrow he went back to his squad. He did not relish that—the boys in his
squad were all right, he guessed, but he just could not seem to fit in.

This company of the C.C.C. started
on its bigger job; to pock-mark Eighty-eight with rocket tubes so that Captain
Doyle could push this hundred-mile marble out of her orbit and herd her in to a
new orbit between Earth and Mars, to be used as a space station—a refuge for
ships in distress, a haven for life boats, a fueling stop, a naval outpost.

Libby was assigned to a heater in
pit H-16. It was his business to carve out carefully calculated emplacements in
which the blasting crew then set off the minute charges which accomplished the
major part of the excavating. Two squads were assigned to H-16, under the
general supervision of an elderly marine gunner. The gunner sat on the edge of
the pit, handling the plans, and occasionally making calculations on a circular
slide rule which hung from a lanyard around his neck.

Libby had just completed a tricky
piece of cutting for a three-stage blast, and was waiting for the blasters,
when his phones picked up the gunner’s instructions concerning the size of the
charge. He pressed his transmitter button.

“Mr. Larsen! You’ve made a

“Who said that?”

“This is Libby. You’ve made a
mistake in the charge. If you set off that charge, you’ll blow this pit right
out of the ground, and us with it.”

Marine Gunner Larsen spun the
dials on his slide rule before replying, “You’re all het up over nothing, son.
That charge is correct.”

“No, I’m not, sir,” Libby
persisted, “you’ve multiplied where you should have divided.”

“Have you had any experience at
this sort of work?”

“No, sir.”

Larsen addressed his next remark
to the blasters. “Set the charge.”

They started to comply. Libby
gulped, and wiped his lips with his tongue. He knew what he had to do, but he
was afraid. Two clumsy stiff-legged jumps placed him beside the blasters. He
pushed between them and tore the electrodes from the detonator. A shadow passed
over him as he worked, and Larsen floated down beside him. A hand grasped his

“You shouldn’t have done that,
son. That’s direct disobedience of orders. I’ll have to report you.” He
commenced reconnecting the firing circuit.

Libby’s ears burned with
embarrassment, but he answered back with the courage of timidity at bay. “I had
to do it, sir. You’re still wrong.”

Larsen paused and ran his eyes
over the dogged face. “Well—it’s a waste of time, but I don’t like to make you
stand by a charge you’re afraid of. Let’s go over the calculation together.”


Captain Doyle sat at his ease in
his quarters, his feet on his desk. He stared at a nearly empty glass tumbler.

“That’s good beer, Blackie. Do you
suppose we could brew some more when it’s gone?”

“I don’t know, Cap’n. Did we bring
any yeast?”

“Find out, will you?” He turned to
a massive man who occupied the third chair. “Well, Larsen, I’m glad it wasn’t
any worse than it was.”

“What beats me, Captain, is how I
could have made such a mistake. I worked it through twice. If it had been a
nitro explosive, I’d have known off hand that I was wrong. If this kid hadn’t
had a hunch, I’d have set it off.”

Captain Doyle clapped the old
warrant officer on the shoulder. “Forget it, Larsen. You wouldn’t have hurt
anybody; that’s why I require the pits to be evacuated even for small charges.
These isotope explosives are tricky at best. Look what happened in pit A-9. Ten
days’ work shot with one charge, and the gunnery officer himself approved that
one. But I want to see this boy. What did you say his name was?”

“Libby, A. J.”

Doyle touched a button on his
desk. A knock sounded at the door. A bellowed “Come in!” produced a stripling
wearing the brassard of Corpsman Mate-of-the-Deck.

“Have Corpsman Libby report to

“Aye aye, sir.”

Some few minutes later Libby was
ushered into the Captain’s cabin. He looked nervously around, and noted
Larsen’s presence, a fact that did not contribute to his peace of mind. He
reported in a barely audible voice, “Corpsman Libby, sir.”

The Captain looked him over.
“Well, Libby, I hear that you and Mr. Larsen had a difference of opinion this
morning. Tell me about it.”

“I—I didn’t mean any harm, sir.”

“Of course not. You’re not in any
trouble; you did us all a good turn this morning. Tell me, how did you know
that the calculation was wrong? Had any mining experience?”

“No, sir. I just saw that he had
worked it out wrong.”

“But how?”

Libby shuffled uneasily. “Well,
sir, it just seemed wrong—It didn’t fit.”

“Just a second, Captain. May I ask
this young man a couple of questions?” It was Commander “Blackie” Rhodes who

“Certainly. Go ahead.”

“Are you the lad they call

Libby blushed. “Yes, sir.”

“I’ve heard some rumors about this
boy.” Rhodes pushed his big frame out of his chair, went over to a bookshelf,
and removed a thick volume. He thumbed through it, then with open book before
him, started to question Libby.

“What’s the square root of

“Nine and seven hundred
forty-seven thousandths.”

“What’s the cube root?”

“Four and five hundred sixty-three

“What’s its logarithm?”

“Its what, sir?”

“Good Lord, can a boy get through
school today without knowing?”

The boy’s discomfort became more
intense. “I didn’t get much schooling, sir. My folks didn’t accept the Covenant
until Pappy died, and we had to.”

“I see. A logarithm is a name for
a power to which you raise a given number, called the base, to get the number
whose logarithm it is. Is that clear?”

Libby thought hard. “I don’t quite
get it, sir.”

“I’ll try again. If you raise ten
to the second power—square it—it gives one hundred. Therefore the logarithm of
a hundred to the base ten is two. In the same fashion the logarithm of a
thousand to the base ten is three. Now what is the logarithm of ninety-five?”

Libby puzzled for a moment. “I
can’t make it come out even. It’s a fraction.”

“That’s okay.”

“Then it’s one and nine hundred
seventy-eight thousandths—just about.”

Rhodes turned to the Captain. “I
guess that about proves it, sir.”

Doyle nodded thoughtfully. “Yes,
the lad seems to have intuitive knowledge of arithmetical relationships. But
let’s see what else he has.”

“I am afraid we’ll have to send
him back to Earth to find out properly.”

Libby caught the gist of this last
remark. “Please, sir, you aren’t going to send me home? Maw ‘ud be awful vexed
with me.”

“No, no, nothing of the sort. When
your time is up, I want you to be checked over in the psychometrical
laboratories. In the meantime I wouldn’t part with you for a quarter’s pay. I’d
give up smoking first. But let’s see what else you can do.”

In the ensuing hour the Captain
and the Navigator heard Libby: one, deduce the Pythagorean proposition; two,
derive Newton’s laws of motion and Kepler’s laws of ballistics from a statement
of the conditions in which they obtained; three, judge length, area, and volume
by eye with no measurable error. He had jumped into the idea of relativity and
non-rectilinear space-time coritinua, and was beginning to pour forth ideas
faster than he could talk, when Doyle held up a hand.

“That’s enough, son. You’ll be
getting a fever. You run along to bed now, and come see me in the morning. I’m
taking you off field work.”

“Yes, sir.”

“By the way, what is your full

“Andrew Jackson Libby, sir.”

“No, your folks wouldn’t have
signed the Covenant. Good night.”

“Good night, sir.”

After he had gone, the two older
men discussed their discovery.

“How do you size it up, Captain?”

“Well, he’s a genius, of
course—one of those wild talents that will show up once in a blue moon. I’ll
turn him loose among my books and see how he shapes up. Shouldn’t wonder if he
were a page-at-a-glance reader, too.”

“It beats me what we turn up among
these boys—and not a one of ‘em any account back on Earth.”

Doyle nodded. “That was the
trouble with these kids. They didn’t feel needed.”


Eighty-eight swung some millions
of miles further around the sun. The pock-marks on her face grew deeper, and
were lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product which
(usually) would confine even atomic disintegration. Then Eighty-eight received
a series of gentle pats, always on the side headed along her course. In a few
weeks’ time the rocket blasts had their effect and Eighty-eight was plunging in
an orbit toward the sun.

When she reached her station one
and three-tenths the distance from the sun of Earth’s orbit, she would have to
be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit. Thereafter she was
to be known as E-M3, Earth-Mars Space Station Spot Three.

Hundreds of millions of miles away
two other C.C.C. companies were inducing two other planetoids to quit their
age-old grooves and slide between Earth and Mars to land in the same orbit as
Eighty-eight. One was due to ride this orbit one hundred and twenty degrees
ahead of Eighty-eight, the other one hundred and twenty degrees behind. When
E-M1, E-M2, and E-M3 were all on station no hard-pushed traveler of the
space-ways on the Earth-Mars passage would ever again find himself far from
land—or rescue.

During the months that
Eighty-eight fell free toward the sun, Captain Doyle reduced the working hours
of his crew and turned them to the comparatively light labor of building a
hotel and converting the little roofed-in valley into a garden spot. The rock
was broken down into soil, fertilizers applied, and cultures of anaerobic
bacteria planted. Then plants, conditioned by thirty-odd generations of low gravity
at Luna City, were set out and tenderly cared for. Except for the low gravity,
Eighty-eight began to feel like home.

But when Eighty-eight approached a
tangent to the hypothetical future orbit of E-M3, the company went back to
maneuvering routine, watch on and watch off, with the Captain living on black
coffee and catching catnaps in the plotting room.

Libby was assigned to the
ballistic calculator, three tons of thinking metal that dominated the plotting
room. He loved the big machine. The Chief Fire Controlman let him help adjust
it and care for it. Libby subconsciously thought of it as a person—his own kind
of person.

On the last day of the approach,
the shocks were more frequent. Libby sat in the right-hand saddle of the
calculator and droned out the predictions for the next salvo, while gloating
over the accuracy with which the machine tracked. Captain Doyle fussed around
nervously, occasionally stopping to peer over the Navigator’s shoulder. Of
course the figures were right, but what if it didn’t work? No one had ever
moved so large a mass before. Suppose it plunged on and on—and on. Nonsense! It
couldn’t. Still he would be glad when they were past the critical speed.

A marine orderly touched his
elbow. “Helio from the Flagship, sir.”

“Read it.”

“Flag to Eighty-eight; private
message, Captain Doyle; am lying off to watch you bring her in.—Kearney.”

Doyle smiled. Nice of the old
geezer. Once they were on station, he would invite the Admiral to ground for
dinner and show him the park.

Another salvo cut loose, heavier
than any before. The room trembled violently. In a moment the reports of the
surface observers commenced to trickle in. “Tube nine, clear!”

“Tube ten, clear!”

But Libby’s drone ceased.

Captain Doyle turned on him.
“What’s the matter, Libby? Asleep? Call the polar stations. I have to have a

“Captain—” The boy’s voice was low
and shaking.

“Speak up, man!”

“Captain—the machine isn’t

“Spiers!” The grizzled head of the
Chief Fire Controlman appeared from behind the calculator.

“I’m already on it, sir. Let you
know in a moment.”

He ducked back again. After a
couple of long minutes he reappeared. “Gyros tumbled. It’s a twelve hour
calibration job, at least.”

The Captain said nothing, but
turned away, and walked to the far end of the room. The Navigator followed him
with his eyes. He returned, glanced at the chronometer, and spoke to the

“Well, Blackie, if I don’t have
that firing data in seven minutes, we’re sunk. Any suggestions?”

Rhodes shook his head without

Libby timidly raised his voice.

Doyle jerked around. “Yes?”

“The firing data is tube thirteen,
seven point six three; tube twelve, six point nine oh; tube fourteen, six point
eight nine.”

Doyle studied his face. “You sure
about that, son?”

“It has to be that,

Doyle stood perfectly still. This
time he did not look at Rhodes but stared straight ahead. Then he took a long
pull on his cigarette, glanced at the ash, and said in a steady voice,

“Apply the data. Fire on the

Four hours later, Libby was still
droning out firing data, his face grey, his eyes closed. Once he had fainted
but when they revived him he was still muttering figures. From time to time the
Captain and the Navigator relieved each other, but there was no relief for him.

The salvos grew closer together,
but the shocks were lighter.

Following one faint salvo, Libby
looked up, stared at the ceiling, and spoke.

“That’s all, Captain.”

“Call polar stations!”

The reports came back promptly,
“Parallax constant, sidereal-solar rate constant.”

The Captain relaxed into a chair.
“Well, Blackie, we did it—thanks to Libby!” Then he noticed a worried,
thoughtful look spread over Libby’s face. “What’s the matter, man? Have we
slipped up?”

“Captain, you know you said the
other day that you wished you had Earth-normal gravity in the park?”

“Yes. What of it?”

“If that book on gravitation you
lent me is straight dope, I think I know a way to accomplish it.”

The Captain inspected him as if
seeing him for the first time. “Libby, you have ceased to amaze me. Could you
stop doing that sort of thing long enough to dine with the Admiral?”

“Gee, Captain, that would be

The audio circuit from
Communications cut in.

“Helio from Flagship: ‘Well done,

Doyle smiled around at them all.
“That’s pleasant confirmation.”

The audio brayed again.

“Helio from Flagship: ‘Cancel last
signal, stand by for correction.’”

A look of surprise and worry
sprang into Doyle’s face—then the audio continued:

“Helio from Flagship: ‘Well done,



[bookmark: roadsmustroll]The Roads Must Roll


"Who makes the roads

The speaker stood still on the
rostrum and waited for his audience to answer him. The reply came in scattered
shouts that cut through the ominous, discontented murmur of the crowd.

"We do!" - "We
do!" - "Damn right!"

"Who does the dirty work
'down inside' - so that Joe Public can ride at his ease?"

This time it was a single roar,
"We do!"

The speaker pressed his advantage,
his words tumbling out in a rasping torrent. He leaned toward the crowd, his
eyes picking out individuals at whom to fling his words. "What makes
business? The roads! How do they move the food they eat? The roads! How do they
get to work? The roads! How do they get home to their wives? The roads!"
He paused for effect, then lowered his voice. "Where would the public be
if you boys didn't keep them roads rolling? Behind the eight ball and everybody
knows it. But do they appreciate it? Pfui! Did we ask for too much? Were our
demands unreasonable? 'The right to resign whenever we want to.' Every working
stiff in other lines of work has that. 'The same pay as the engineers.' Why
not? Who are the real engineers around here? D'yuh have to be a cadet in a
funny little hat before you can learn to wipe a bearing, or jack down a rotor?
Who earns his keep: The 'gentlemen' in the control offices, or the boys 'down
inside'? What else do we ask? 'The right to elect our own engineers.' Why the
hell not? Who's competent to pick engineers? The technicians? - or some damn,
dumb examining board that's never been 'down inside', and couldn't tell a rotor
bearing from a field coil?"

He changed his pace with natural
art, and lowered his voice still further. "I tell you, brother, it's time
we quit fiddlin' around with petitions to the Transport Commission, and use a
little direct action. Let 'em yammer about democracy; that's a lot of eye wash
- we've got the power, and we're the men that count!"

A man had risen in the back of the
hall while the speaker was haranguing. He spoke up as the speaker paused.
"Brother Chairman," he drawled, "may I stick in a couple of

"You are recognized, Brother

"What I ask is: what's all
the shootin' for? We've got the highest hourly rate of pay of any mechanical
guild, full insurance and retirement, and safe working conditions, barring the
chance of going deaf." He pushed his anti-noise helmet further back from
his ears. He was still in dungarees, apparently just up from standing watch.
"Of course we have to give ninety days notice to quit a job, but, cripes,
we knew that when we signed up. The roads have got to roll - they can't stop
every time some lazy punk gets bored with his billet.

"And now Soapy-" The
crack of the gavel cut him short. "Pardon me, I mean Brother Soapy - tells
us how powerful we are, and how we should go in for direct action. Rats! Sure
we could tie up the roads, and play hell with the whole community-but so could
any screwball with a can of nitroglycerine, and he wouldn't have to be a
technician to do it, neither.

"We aren't the only frogs in
the puddle. Our jobs are important, sure, but where would we be without the
farmers - or the steel workers - or a dozen other trades and professions?"

He was interrupted by a sallow
little man with protruding upper teeth, who said, "Just a minute, Brother
Chairman, I'd like to ask Brother Harvey a question," then turned to
Harvey and inquired in a sly voice, "Are you speaking for the guild,
Brother - or just for yourself? Maybe you don't believe in the guild? You
wouldn't by any chance be" - he stopped and slid his eyes up and down
Harvey's lank frame - "a spotter, would you?"

Harvey looked over his questioner
as if he had found something filthy in a plate of food. "Sikes," he
told him, "if you weren't a runt, I'd stuff your store teeth down your
throat. I helped found this guild. I was on strike in 'sixty-six. Where were
you in 'sixty-six? With the finks?"

The chairman's gavel pounded.
"There's been enough of this," he said. "Nobody who knows
anything about the history of this guild doubts the loyalty of Brother Harvey.
We'll continue with the regular order of business." He stopped to clear
his throat. "Ordinarily we don't open our floor to outsiders, and some of
you boys have expressed a distaste for some of the engineers we work under, but
there is one engineer we always like to listen to whenever he can get away from
his pressing duties. I guess maybe it's because he's had dirt under his nails
the same as us. Anyhow, I present at this time Mr. Shorty Van Kleeck-"

A shout from the floor stopped
him. "Brother Van Kleeck!"

"O.K.-Brother Van Kleeck,
Chief Deputy Engineer of this road-town."

"Thanks, Brother
Chairman." The guest speaker came briskly forward, and grinned expansively
at the crowd, seeming to swell under their approval. "Thanks, Brothers. I
guess our chairman is right. I always feel more comfortable here in the Guild
Hall of the Sacramento Sector - or any guild hail, for that matter - than I do
in the engineers' dubhouse. Those young punk cadet engineers get in my hair.
Maybe I should have gone to one of the fancy technical institutes, so I'd have
the proper point of view, instead of coming up from 'down inside'.

"Now about those demands of
yours that the Transport Commission just threw back in your face - Can I speak

"Sure you can, Shorty!"
- "You can trust us!"

"Well, of course I shouldn't
say anything, but I can't help but understand how you feel. The roads are the
big show these days, and you are the men that make them roll. It's the natural
order of things that your opinions should be listened to, and your desires met.
One would think that even politicians would be bright enough to see that.
Sometimes, lying awake at night, I wonder why we technicians don't just take
things over, and-"


"Your wife is calling, Mr.

"Very well." He picked
up the handset and turned to the visor screen.

"Yes, darling, I know I
promised, but ... You're perfectly right, darling, but Washington has
especially requested that we show Mr. Blekinsop anything be wants to see. I
didn't know he was arriving today.... No, I can't turn him over to a
subordinate. It wouldn't be courteous. He's Minister of Transport for
Australia. I told you that.... Yes, darling, I know that courtesy begins at
home, but the roads must roll. It's my job; you knew that when you married me. And
this is part of my job. That's a good girl. We'll positively have breakfast
together. Tell you what, order horses and a breakfast pack and we'll make it a
picnic. I'll meet you in Bakersfield - usual place.... Goodbye, darling. Kiss
Junior goodnight for me."

He replaced the handset on the
desk whereupon the pretty, but indignant, features of his wife faded from the
visor screen. A young woman came into his office. As she opened the door she
exposed momentarily the words printed on its outer side; "DIEGO-RENO
ROADTOWN, Office of the Chief Engineer." He gave her a harassed glance.

"Oh, it's you. Don't marry an
engineer, Dolores, marry an artist. They have more home life."

"Yes, Mr. Gaines. Mr.
Blekinsop is here, Mr. Gaines."

"Already? I didn't expect him
so soon. The Antipodes ship m