"Twelve Hours to Blow!"
By Robert Silverberg (born 1935).
First appearance: Imaginative Tales, May 1957.
Short story (15 pages).
(Parental note: Mild profanity.)
"My name isn't Caldwell."
What looks at first like a case of mistaken identity propels a cryonics expert into a criminal conspiracy that for one disagreeable moment has him seeing "pretty stars": "He got me up against one of the walls and began banging my head against it . . . "
"I glanced at my watch. And realized, with a shock, that I had less time left than I imagined."
"Hey! You! Caldwell! Halt!"
"He could move fast; I'll give him credit for that."
"A Z9M9Z tube, Mr. Martin? Well, we're rather short of them, but I suppose I could let you have one."
"You're listed in the official files as a criminal wanted on three planets. Do you expect us to believe some cock-and-bull story like that in face of the identification evidence?"
Typos: "cooper bus bar" [copper]; "computor".
References and resources:
- "Phobos, the inner moon of Mars": "Measurements of the day and night sides of Phobos show such extreme temperature variations that the sunlit side of the moon rivals a pleasant winter day in Chicago, while only a few kilometers away, on the dark side of the moon, the climate is more harsh than a night in Antarctica" (NASA Solar System Exploration HERE). "A person who weighs 68 kilogram-force (150 pounds) on Earth would weigh about 40 gram-force (2 ounces) standing on the surface of Phobos" (Wikipedia HERE and HERE). "headed for Deimos, the outer moon of Mars": "Escape velocity from Deimos is 5.6 m/s. This velocity could theoretically be achieved by a human performing a vertical jump" (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "Syrtis City, Mars": "Syrtis Major is centered near at 8.4°N 69.5°E, extends some 1,500 km (930 mi) north from the planet's equator, and spans 1,000 km (620 mi) from west to east" (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "temperatures around absolute zero": "Scientists and technologists routinely achieve temperatures close to absolute zero, where matter exhibits quantum effects such as Bose–Einstein condensate, superconductivity and superfluidity" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "a superconductor": "Superconductivity is a set of physical properties observed in certain materials where electrical resistance vanishes and magnetic flux fields are expelled from the material. Any material exhibiting these properties is a super-conductor. Unlike an ordinary metallic conductor, whose resistance decreases gradually as its temperature is lowered even down to near absolute zero, a super-conductor has a characteristic critical temperature below which the resistance drops abruptly to zero. An electric current through a loop of superconducting wire can persist indefinitely with no power source" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "a super ultra-high-frequency radio transmitter": "UHF radio waves propagate mainly by line of sight; they are blocked by hills and large buildings although the trans-mission through building walls is strong enough for indoor reception. They are used for television broadcasting, cell phones, satellite communication including GPS, personal radio services including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, walkie-talkies, cordless phones, and numerous other applications" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "your retinal patterns": "The relative obscurity and 'high tech' nature of retinal scans means that they are a frequent device in fiction to suggest that an area has been particularly strongly secured against intrusion" (Wikipedia HERE, HERE, and HERE).
- "fifteen gravities of acceleration": "Human tolerances depend on the magnitude of the gravitational force, the length of time it is applied, the direction it acts, the location of application, and the posture of the body" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "a geodesic bee-line": "In geometry, a geodesic is commonly a curve representing in some sense the shortest path (arc) between two points in a surface" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the fishbowl helmet": "Many space story writers merely mention a 'spacesuit' without considering or describing design details, in the same way as they mention a ray gun or a spaceship without considering how its mechanism would work" (Wikipedia HERE); also see Atomic Rockets (HERE).
- Beginning writing in the early '50s, the incredibly prolific Robert Silverberg has shown himself to be as adept at the novel as he is with the short form; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE).