Back to what homeless people read…

This one is a long one.
Get your cuppa and your fuzzy slippers…


Last night, being done with classes for the semester I went into the school library and attempted to find some science fiction to read.

I found bupkus. The “leisure reading” section consisted of 6 3 ft shelves. And it was all either murder or vampires.

In desperation I asked the research librarian, the only one on duty at the time, where the scifi section was.
They *don’t have a scifi section*! If it were possible that last sentence would be in 24 pt type and flashing. What library doesn’t have a scifi section? What self-respecting *school* library doesn’t have a scifi section???

I thought school was all about widening horizons, learning to question (and learning how to do so with your stripes intact). Hasn’t that been the lesser motive of scifi since its invention? Open your eyes and think about possibilities!

Anyway.. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and wiped the tears from my eyes the librarian asked me what I was looking for specifically.

I wasn’t looking for any one thing. I told him, “My brain needs a break. I want something fun, something comforting, something like some of Heinlein’s juveniles.”
He started naming authors and I would reply with a yes or no. He mentioned Arthur C. Clarke and that was one of my yes authors. It turns out they had hidden in the stacks exactly ONE book of Clarkes stories. But! It was an omnibus. ALL of the collected stories he’s ever written. (it’s huge).

So this evening I sat down in my little camper, all bundled up in fleece, warming my toes on 50 lbs of border collie and opened it up to the first story… and started laughing.

“Travel By Wire”
an excerpt..
“Then, when they weren’t looking, we borrowed a guinea pig from the biology people on the 37th floor, and sent it through the apparatus. It came through in excellent condition, except for the fact it was dead. So we had to return it to it’s owner with a polite request for a post-morgen. They raved about it at first, saying that the unfortunate creature had been inoculated with the only specimens of some germs they’d spent months rearing from the bottle. They were so annoyed, in fact, that they flatly refused our request.
Such insubordination on the part of mere biologists was of course deplorable, and we promptly generated a high-frequency field in their laboratory and gave them all fever for a few minutes. The post-mortem results came up in half an hour, the verdict being that the creature was in perfect condition but had died of shock, with a rider to the effect that if we wanted to try the experiment again we should blindfold our victims. We were also told that a combination lock had been fitted to the 37th floor to protect it from the depredations of kleptomaniacal mechanics who should be washing cars in a garage. We could not let this pass, so we immediately X-rayed their lock and to their complete consternation told them what the key-word was.

The chemists on the next floor were our only serious rivals….”

There’s more.
This is his first published novel, from 1937.

Now tell me, how many of you *weren’t* laughing?

Leave a comment


  1. el gato negro

     /  November 11, 2011


    i could use some lightweight fare.

  2. 0-312-87821-4
    “The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke”

    You did laugh? Right?


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