’m currently plowing through a large 1907 drama, at lease a week out on that one. As a side-issue, I’ve been reading The Sam Gunn Omnibus, a huge collection of Ben Bova stories about his spaceman hero, Sam Gunn. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of these (or I may have in some long-forgotten collection perhaps). Either way, the stories are great – short and sweet and funny.
So Sam Gunn is an astronaut. Unlike your usual hero, Sam is short, not that handsome, and loud. He’s just a bit of a nutball poised in the position to be one of the first men into outer space. From the setup in the Omnibus, we know that, when he finally does die (in a black hole), he leaves a collection of companies and is worth a great deal of money. The stories of the Omnibus explain how that comes to be.
In The Long Fall, Sam is a member aboard Freedom, the first space station. Sam, never a ranker, quickly gets on the bad side of the station’s commander. To make matters worse, the small crew learns that the very famous, very voluptuous film star, Gloria Lamour, is coming “upstairs” to film part of her newest movie aboard their station. Of course, this adds tension to an already stressed group.
Sam suspects that the commander is going to “accidentally” launch him in the upcoming lifeboat/reentry vehicle test – he even finds the editing coding that will permit this to happen. He considers if maybe it will be the commander, instead, who takes the long fall. And then all thoughts are wiped away, the shuttle with Lamour is edging towards the lock, the crew is atremble, the captain telling them to keep their distance. Tensions mount. Will Sam get the girl? We he be jettisoned? What will happen?
Not going to spoil it but the end was a rather good surprise. It had all the right twists to bring a nice setup to a satisfactory conclusion. All I can say is that if you, like I was, are wandering a used book store and get a chance to pick up this massive book, do so. You’ll have enough enjoyable pocket-reading to last you some time.
Great tale. I’m looking more to Sam Gunn and his crazy adventures!
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