Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Arthur C. Clarke's "Neutron Tide": On gravity well of a neutron star

This exotic educational story is about the effect on ordinary matter of the gravity well of a neutron star - "a sphere of ultimately condensed matter, only ten miles across, yet as massive as a sun - and hence with a surface gravity one hundred billion times that of earth".

Story summary.
Narrated by Commander Cummerbund, a friend of Captain Karl van Rinderpest of the ill fated "supercruiser Flatbush".

Flatbush was returning from a bombing mission "during the war against the Mucoids" with 3 destroyers when it accidentally entered the gravity well of the neutron star; other 3 ships escaped by a hair's breath.

Narration includes a short graphic guess of the last moments: "Flatbush must have been torn to pieces almost instantly, and the pieces themselves must have flowed like liquid during the few seconds they took to swing around the star. Then the fragments headed on out into space again."

Fact sheet.
Neutron Tide, short story, review
First published: Galaxy, May 1970
Rating: B

This story is included in the following collections.

  1. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"
  2. "The Wind from the Sun"
  3. "More Than One Universe"