This week, one of my favorite episodes of Good Story posted. Julie and I talked about The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi.
The book is a collection of very short, very poignant stories about a Catholic priest and mayor, written in and about Italy right after World War II. Fun to read, even more fun to talk about.
Find the episode here: Good Story 152: The Little World of Don Camillo.
Next up over there is a movie Julie picked that is up for an Oscar this year: Hell or High Water. I’ve seen it and liked it, but will watch again with my Good Story goggles on.
I have the two picks after that. We’ll read “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes (the novella, not the novel), a story about “what it means to be an intelligent being” said a very smart friend of mine at LTUE this past weekend. Then we’ll watch Arrival, which is also up for an Oscar. I’m eager, among other things, to talk about how “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang was so successfully brought to screen when I considered it unfilmable.
What do I know, anyway? Answer: NOT MUCH. Not much at all. So happy to be wrong.
Written long before Andy Weir’s The Martian, “A Walk in the Sun” by Geoffrey A. Landis gives us a science fiction survival story a bit closer to home. Trish Mulligan is the last one alive on the moon after crash landing a ship that was never meant to land at all. Luckily, her solar powered spacesuit is operational. Unluckily, a rescue is thirty days away. To survive, she’s got to keep her suit working, and to keep her suit working? She’s got to keep it in the sun.
I like a science fiction story that lets me involve my calculator. (And yes, I mean “calculator”. My trusty old HP-15C… still love that thing.)
The diameter of the moon = 6786 miles.
The moon rotates once every 27 days.
So to keep that suit in the sun, Trish needs to average 10.47 miles per hour for 27 days. And she’s only got her legs to move her.
Can she keep that pace in the low gravity of the moon?
I listened to Infinivox’s recording of the story, read by Amy Bruce. She’s quite good and a great match with the story. It runs 51 minutes and you can get it on Audible for $5. I’ve listened to this a few times over the years so yeah, I enjoy it very much.
Here’s a link to the whole story at Baen
“A Walk in the Sun” won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1992.
One of my most treasured books is my The Top of the Volcano hardcover, a complete (at the time of publication, 2014) collection of Harlan Ellison’s award-winning stories published by Subterranean Press. It’s a beautiful book and the content… well this is arguably Harlan Ellison’s very best stuff. It will blow your socks off.
I recently re-read “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”, which is the first story in this collection. It’s one of my favorite Ellison stories because it hits me right where I live. It has inspired me a time or several to stop and wonder what it is exactly that I’m doing in my life. I’m still not a jelly bean tosser, but at the very least I’m galvanized to suppress my inner Ticktockman.
As beautiful a book at The Top of the Volcano is, there are two audio versions of this story that ought not be missed. The first is Harlan Ellison’s reading of the story that is part of The Voice from the Edge: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Ellison is a fine forward-leaning narrator that demands attention. You can find this audiobook at Downpour and Audible.
This story was dramatized as part of the 2000X: Tales of the New Millennia radio series, which is worth tracking down. It stars Robin Williams as the Harlequin (Everett C. Marm), Stefan Rudnicki as the Ticktockman, and Harlan Ellison as the narrator (and host of the entire series). Yuri Rasovsky was producer/director. It looks like it’s out of print, so a used copy is your best bet. Another gem in that series is Richard Dreyfuss starring in Robert A. Heinlein’s “By His Bootstraps”. Listen through good headphones!
A few miles from here
a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch
above a mere; the overhanging bank
is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface.
At night there, something uncanny happens:
the water burns. And the mere bottom
has never been sounded by the sons of men.
On its bank, the heather-stepper halts:
the hart in flight from pursuing hounds
will turn to face them with firm-set horns
and die in the wood rather than dive
beneath its surface. That is no good place.
— Beowulf, 1361-1372, as translated by Seamus Heaney
The order of God’s Providence maintains a perpetual vicissitude in the material being of this world; day is continually turning to night, spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring; no two days are ever exactly alike. Some are foggy, rainy, some dry or windy; and this endless variety greatly enhances the beauty of the universe. And even so precisely is it with man (who, as ancient writers have said, is a miniature of the world), for he is never long in any one condition, and his life on earth flows by like the mighty waters, heaving and tossing with an endless variety of motion; one while raising him on high with hope, another plunging him low in fear; now turning him to the right with rejoicing, then driving him to the left with sorrows; and no single day, no, not even one hour, is entirely the same as any other of his life.
— Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales