Monday, December 26, 2011

Trickling stream of consciousness...

Of all the scenes in all of Bob Heinlein's works, one of the vignettes that is most prominent in my memory is from The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (the first part of the book, where it was a cool SF novel, not the latter half, where it devolved into omphaloskepsis,) when the protagonist is attempting to explain to a character with a bad case of entitlementitis why, in a lunar habitat, air isn't free.

This was recalled to mind by Joel's post on the occasional drama involved with ensuring a steady supply of water when one is living way out past where the buses don't run.

Which in turn called to mind the classic Fritz Leiber story, which I hadn't read since the seventh grade, "A Pail of Air".

Luckily, that's a name that sticks with you, even *mumble-many* years later, and a quick googling revealed that it was available on Baen's free library! Hooray!

19 comments:

Desertrat said...

Elevated storage is a Good Thing for one's water supply. Gravity always works.

docjim505 said...

Ah, the pre-Three Mile Island attitude that atomic power is good and useful and the Way of the Future.

Sigh...

fast richard said...

Thank You.

I remember that story. I must have been in junior high, reading SF late at night under the covers with a flashlight after everyone else was asleep.

The Big Guy said...

I'm always getting educated visiting VFTP- Thanks for "omphaloskepsis".

I'll also have to add Joel's site to my RSS reader...

TBG

treefroggy said...

Damn !! Another word I have to Google.

Anonymous said...

"Omphaloskepsis?"...oh, for crying out loud! (In my case, make that "Oh, for derping out loud.")

Please, show mercy. Now I have to go back and reread the book.

Mike James

farmist said...

Anon 12:07,
Any reason to re-read Heinlein is a good one.

Anonymous said...

3450 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20392-5420

Where one goes to practice omphaloskepsis.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

A trickling stream often indicates a beaver problem...

Desertrat said...

Or maybe that the beaver has a problem...

Ygolonac said...

I never did get around to reading A Pail Of Air.

Because I caught an OTR version of it a number of years back, on KNX (Los Angeles) via skip to Montana. Thus, it had lots of static and pops, and sounded like I'd tuned into a temporal anomaly.

X Minus One, 28 Mar 1956. Available at Old Radio World, too. http://www.oldradioworld.com/media/xminusone_560328_APailOfAir.mp3

Chris said...

Tam, thanks for this. I had read the story very long ago, and remembered only the plot, not the title, nor the author. And for reminding me to re-read Heinlein.

Chas Clifton said...

Every now and then during the winter wood-burning season, I bring in the kindling bucket from outside.

When I reach into it, the air in the bucket is cold, and somehow that makes me think of a story I read long, long ago about a family carrying frozen air in buckets.

Thanks for pointing me back to it.

Evan Price said...

Tam, recall that story from years ago as a kid reading books under the blankets with an improvised flashlight.
Suggest you check out Alfred Bester's story "The Stars My Destination".

The specific part is the first part describing the shipwreck of Gulliver Foyle. Ship was destroyed in space, kept himself alive by locking himself in a suit locker and would have to venture out to find an oxygen bottle to recharge his breathing air. To do so meant opening the locker.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Working my way through Lt. Leary, so I'll get it on the next download. The wife is rationing my Baen purchases, so as to leave room on the plastic for the necessary addictive Fossil Fuel resupplies for the vehicles. Just don't feel right grabbing all the Free Books w/o a purchase or two. I might end up having an urge to Occupy something if I just take it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of people who have been trying to remember the name of that story for 20+ years. It sure seems to leave an impression on young minds.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, thank you, Tam! I read "Pail of Air" at about the same age, and wondered where I could find it again! I dunno how touchy-feely you are, but I reckon you won't mind a notional virtual hug-and-kiss for cluing me in to that. Or I'll buy you a beer some time, if the former don't suit.

Justthisguy said...

What is it they say? You can get by for a minute or two without air, about three days without water, and about thirty days without food.

Though there is the crew of Lady Be Good, who marched about 100 miles across the Libyan Desert with essentially no water. They were real men, in those days.

I do wonder what kind of thoughts they were thinking about their navigator who got them into that fix, as they were dying of thirst.

Seerak said...

Wow, when I first laid eyes on that word, I misread it slightly and imagined the weird results of a breeding experiment involving oompa-loompas and those crunchy creatures from The Dark Crystal.

Also thanks for the reference to "A Pail of Air". I'd never read it before, and I read a lot of sci-fi in my youth. It's almost always refreshingly clean of that haughty contempt for humankind which informs most "sci-fi" these days ("Avatar", anyone?)