Sunday, July 29, 2007

Robert Heinlein's "Gentlemen, Be Seated": An accident on moon

This fast paced story is of an accident on moon - an underground pressurized passage losing its air due to a rocket crash on surface. And the superhuman effort & novel technique that saved the three men trapped.

Story summary.
Told in first person by Jack Arnold, a journalist who is visiting Luna City on moon.

There is some construction work going on - building pressured underground tunnels. One Mr Knowles is Jack's guide, & takes him down a tunnel where some sections have been completed & pressured, but other end i still being built. Because they are going through pressured parts, they don't take space suites along.

Near the end of the completed parts, they meet a gang of workmen returning from the day's work. Knowles knows them; enlists one called Konski to provide some expert guidence for the visitor.

They are in the pressured tunnel section still undergoing testing when there is a leak. Chamber already has some kind of balloons that automatically go to the point of leak to fix it - only the leak is too big for them. Lights go out, then heating. Knowles is sent to get help - returns because next section has also lost pressure.

Title of the story comes from the novel way they fix leak till help comes - and almost die. Konski & Jack take turns sitting on the point of leak after placing part of the space suite Konski was carrying!

Fact sheet.
Gentlemen, Be Seated, short story, review
Rating: B
First published: May 1948
Publication history.

See also.

  1. Eric Frank Russell's "Jay Score" (1941): A shared plot element is: to survive an accident in space, protagonists must expose their body physically to elements guaranteed to kill them.


Anton Sherwood said...

The pull quote is wrong! The tide is proportional not only to the mass of the other body but to the diameter of the body affected; so the ratio is not eighty but about 21.