Wednesday, July 29, 2020

"It Would Have To Be Murder, Now, but It Couldn't Look Like Murder"

"Little Planet."
By Thorp McClusky (1906-75).
Illustration by Frank R. Paul (1884-1963; HERE).
First appearance: Science Fiction, October 1939.
Short short story (9 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "There was no possibility, now, that he would die a natural death before the landing on Earth."

If you're planning a perfect murder in deep space, don't forget how to drive . . .

Main characters:
~ Old Joel Rutledge:
  ". . . listened with the sharp-eared alertness of one who knows that death stalks 
close . . ."
~ Black Thom Arnold:
  "The ore he had already secured would make him—if all went well—one of  the 
wealthiest men in the system—"
~ Gregg Morrow and Noreen Rutledge:
  "In that moment of black despondency, they simultaneously heard the faint, 
distant drumming of a rocket motor in the black sky."

Comment: Evidently there's no space traffic control on Earth—risky, at best.
Further comment: If our story is to be believed, Portland will be in more competent 
hands in the future.

- "His eyelids felt heavy as neutronium": ". . . a hypothetical substance composed 
purely of neutrons . . .  Science fiction and popular literature frequently use 
the term 'neutronium' to refer to a highly dense phase of matter composed 
primarily of neutrons." (Wikipedia HERE).
- Asteroid mining like what we see in our story would yield comparatively little profit; see the infographic below, which clearly implies that a larger operation would be called for; also see "Asteroid Mining" (HERE) and a paper on mining platinum from asteroids (HERE; PDF).
- While our author specialized in the weird tale (the ISFDb HERE), he also occasionally produced fiction aimed at juveniles.
- We've featured a few stories set in the Asteroid Belt, the latest one being H. L. Gold's "Grifters' Asteroid" (HERE).

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