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Nearly Complete Collection

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Nearly Complete Collection of Robert A. Heinlein

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Contents (by Date of Publication)


"LifeLine," Astounding Science Fiction, August 1939.

"Misfit," Astounding Science Fiction, November 1939.

"Successful 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 Monroe).

"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 MacDonald).

"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 Wentz).

"They," Unknown, April 1941.

"Universe," Astounding Science Fiction, May 1941.

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

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

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

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

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

"Commonsense," 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", 1946

"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 York).

" '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, 1948.

Space Cadet, Scribner's, 1948.

"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, 1949.

"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, 1950.

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

Where To? (Poem) 1951

Between Planets, serialized as Planets in Combat in Blue Book, September, October 1951.

The Puppet Masters, serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction, September, October, November 1951.

"Bulletin Board", 1951

"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.

"Searchlight," 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), 1988.

For Us the Living, Scribner, 2003.

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

Shooting "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 (1952)

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 (1956)

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, (1963)

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 (1973)

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 (1975)

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 (1979)

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 Sturgeon

Grumbles from the Grave, (1989)

Take Back Your Government!, (1992)

Tramp Royale, (1992)


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.


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 restrained.

“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 manner.

“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 Pinero?”

“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 Pinero?”

“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 apologize.”

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 baldheaded 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 predecessors.”

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 Education?”

“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 somewhere.”

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 spacetime 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 spacetime 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 spacetime 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 lifeline 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 drink?”

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 them.”

“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 me?”

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 employed.

“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, 1951.

“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 prayer.”

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

“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 indulgence?”


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 ratio?”

“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 interoffice 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 think.”

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 physician.”

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 tomorrow?”

“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 kind.”

“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 up.

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

“Tomorrow? There will not be time tomorrow.”

“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 lockbox 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 telephone.”

“Very well. Bring the instrument here.”

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 out.”

“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 lockbox. 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 said.

“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 top.”


“… 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 twentytwo—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 airtight 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 glowtubes 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 airtight 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 glowtubes 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 glowtubes 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.

“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 weekends 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 name.”

“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 ships.”

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 grablines. 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 lock.”

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 groundlubbers 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 coordinates?”

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 coordinates?”

“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 crosshairs 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 triangulation?”

“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 excitement.

“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 airtight 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 line.”

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 filter.”

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 builtin 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 airlock. 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 metalsmith 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 necessary.”

“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 pockmark 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 mistake!”

“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 arm.

“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 me.”

“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 spoke.

“Certainly. Go ahead.”

“Are you the lad they call ‘Pinkie’?”

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 ninety-five?”

“Nine and seven hundred forty-seven thousandths.”

“What’s the cube root?”

“Four and five hundred sixty-three thousandths.”

“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 spacetime 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 name?”

“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-aglance 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 pockmarks 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 threetenths 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 spaceways 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 righthand 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 parallax.”

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

“Speak up, man!”

“Captain—the machine isn’t tracking.”

“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 Navigator.

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

Rhodes shook his head without speaking.

Libby timidly raised his voice. “Captain—”

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, Captain.”

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 bell.”

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 swell!”

The audio circuit from Communications cut in.

“Helio from Flagship: ‘Well done, Eighty-eight.’”

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, E-M3.’”

The Roads Must Roll

"Who makes the roads roll?"

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 words?"

"You are recognized, Brother Harvey."

"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 roadtown."

"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 freely?"

"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. Gaines."

"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 must have grounded early."

"Yes, Mr. Gaines."

"Dolores, don't you ever have any emotions?"

"Yes, Mr. Gaines."

"Hmmm, it seems incredible, but you are never mistaken. Show Mr. Blekinsop in."

"Very good, Mr. Gaines."

Larry Gaines got up to greet his visitor. Not a particularly impressive little guy, he thought, as they shook hands and exchanged formal amenities. The rolled umbrella, the bowler hat were almost too good to be true.

An Oxford accent partially masked the underlying clipped, flat, nasal twang of the native Australian. "It's a pleasure to have you here, Mr. Blekinsop, and I hope we can make your stay enjoyable."

The little man smiled. "I'm sure it will be. This is my first visit to your wonderful country. I feel at home already. The eucalyptus trees, you know, and the brown hills-"

"But your trip is primarily business?"

"Yes, yes. My primary purpose is to study your roadcities, and report to my government on the advisability of trying to adapt your startling American methods to our social problems Down Under. I thought you understood that such was the reason I was sent to you."

"Yes, 1 did, in a general way. I don't know just what it is that you wish to find out. I suppose that you have heard about our road towns, how they came about, how they operate, and so forth."

"I've read a good bit, true, but I am not a technical man, Mr. Gaines, not an engineer. My field is social and political. I want to see how this remarkable technical change has affected your people. Suppose you tell me about the roads as if I were entirely ignorant. And I will ask questions."

"That seems a practical plan. By the way, how many are there in your party?"

"Just myself. I sent my secretary on to Washington."

"I see