Monday, August 6, 2007

Robert Heinlein's "Requiem": A man dies pursuing a dream

This is actually not a bad story. But I don't like stories with sad ending; there is a hint of impending death frequently in the later half of the story.

Also, this story now appears a bit out of date. It talks of private space flight companies, & a city on moon in our present time. But the story was written in 1940 - in another lifetime!

Note: The word "requiem" means "funeral".

Story Summary.
Delos D Harriman is an old millionaire & a major shareholder of the Company. He is a pioneer of space flight, & the Company has a monopoly on exploitation of moon & of earth/moon passenger & freight traffic.

And he has this dream cherished since childhood. He will stand on the surface of moon, looking up at earth in the skies. By the time space flight was perfected, he was too old. He cannot go on his own Company's ships because his weak bones cannot take the heavy acceleration; medical regulations deny him passage.

Then we have two freelancers - rejects of the spaceflight for some misconduct or the other. Captain McIntyre & his technical man, Charles Cummings aka Charlie. They now give joyrides up stratosphere for a fee in their run down flier, Care Free, at Bates County Fair Association.

Harriman enlists the duo to help him get to moon, after much arguments - mostly on grounds of his health. But Care Free is not up to the job. They will buy a stratospheric yacht, & outfit it with additional gear to make it suitable for moon flight - at an isolated place owned by Harriman. Ship will eventually get a rather interesting name, "Lunatic"!

Harriman cashes out of his businesses, sets up trusts for his charities, is sued by nieces & nephews because they are set to lost the fortune they are set to lose, & there is some more drama. Finally, the three fly out.

Rest of the story is about actual flight, view of earth from above, landing on moon, & Harriman's death just after landing there.

Collected in.

  1. Raymond J Healy & J Francis McComas (Eds)' "Adventures in Time and Space".
Fact sheet.
First published: Astounding, January 1940.
Rating: B

Note: Moved here from original location on Aug 6, 2007. Reason.