Sunday, September 30, 2007

Arthur C. Clarke's "Cosmic Casanova": A playboy meets his match

Good piece of humor.

Story summary.
Joe is the sole human aboard a galactic survey ship, though he has company in the form of Max - very smart robotic computer that runs the ship. Humans are spread through a part of galaxy on many world. Joe is surveying a pretty much uncharted wilderness. His job is to record the parameters of the star, look for any planets, & move on. A few days on every star, different stars a couple of days apart.

It is through his ruminations that we learn of his tastes in woman. How easily he keep finding girls, & getting rid of them too. Then something happens.

Approaching a star that is known to be part of galactic wilderness, he notices a beacon. A little survey, & he knows he is heading towards something sentient. He relays all relevant information back home, while preparing the first contact.

A little later, he will be talking to aliens. And surprise, surprise! They are human. Turns out, in the early days of early interstellar travel - 5000 years back, many planets were colonized, but they fell to barbarism after the First Empire died out. He is looking at one of the relics, though it doesn't appear barbaric.

His chief contact on the world is a lovely girl named Liala. She is some kind of a linguist. He promptly falls in love. And arranges to meet her alone when he lands rather than as part of a reception committee - by giving the story that he is alone, & needs to have confidence that they are not hostile.

But the meeting is a shock. This planet has low gravity, & evolution has done a job in 200 generations since the locals split from common human stock. She is a giantess. "I suppose I could have embraced Liala. But I'd have looked like such a fool, standing there on tiptoe with my arms wrapped around her knees."

Trivia.

  1. If I had any doubts on the plausibility of evolution's ability to convert normal humans into giants in just 5000 years, it was quelled today, 3 October 2007. Today's Bombay City print edition of "Indian Express" newspaper carries an interview with Sunita Williams, recently recently returned from International Space Station after spending over 6 months in space. She said she had gained 2 cm height in these 6 months in zero-g! And she is 40+ of age.
Fact sheet.
"Cosmic Casanova", short story, review
First published: Venture magazine, May 1958.
Rating: A

This story appears in the following collections.
  1. "More Than One Universe"
  2. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"

1 comments:

Doug, the Bug said...

I would have embraced her, oh yes I really would