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Aural Delights Nov 2008

The A Bertram Chandler Story UFO is now available as an audio podcast from Starship Sofa Aural Delights No 48

First Flights to the Moon 1970
(Cover Roger Zimmerman)

Editor(s): Hal Clement
Publisher: Doubleday (USA)
Edition: 74-103738
Publication Date: 1970

First Flights to the Moon 1970

Short Story


The high school physics student will finish this story, think for a moment and say, "Wait a minute. That's not right. The angle of repose doesn't depend on gravity. We did an experiment sliding blocks down a board, and the weight cancels out. The coefficent of friction is equal to the tangent of theta-"

The high-shcooler is right, of course, as far as he goes. He has learned a nice straightforward, simple formula, and he has checked it out-.

In a laboratory full of air, which has interesting lubricating properties.

Even in air, the formula doesn't always work; there are other factors, which the high school algerbra doesn't cover. How about the "rats" - those rolls of dust under the bed which are always good for a demerit at West Point? If dust particles only manage to have the right shape, or get lightly sputter-welded together by micrometeorite impact, a few more terms really should go into the formula.

General Black Blast Bradley should have remembered this cadet days, if he ever was a cadet. Actually, I'm not sure he could have been. I've met many high military officers in twenty-odd years of Reserve service (including combat) and Bradley's casual rejection of common-sense procedure, even under pressure from public opinion, just doesn't fit the picture.

Maybe the General is a ringer, and we have a spy-and-sabotage story here.