Friday, September 21, 2007

Arthur C. Clarke's "Summertime on Icarus": Shipwreck near the Sun

This is quite a well told shipwreck & rescue in space story. But I have read too many of the kind now - had a feeling of boredom midway through; ended up finishing this rather short story in 3 sittings!

An MP3 version of this story is available online (link via SF Signal & Free SF Reader. I haven't heard this online version.

Story summary.
"Colin Sherrard, astronics engineer", is alone on a small asteroid named Icarus - "a world of two miles in diameter" but with "fifteen square miles of fantastically rugged" surface area.

He was part of crew aboard solar research ship Prometheous - now hanging 2 miles above the asteroid in its shadow - to protect it from Sun. Colin had gone down to fix some instrument in a one-man pod, & had an accident.

Now he can neither fly, nor radio. Life control systems are intact, but they won't be any good once Sun comes up (which will be soon); he is currently at night side. He is not even carrying a space suite that will let him walk around on foot, though he can drive the pod around on surface.

Much of the story is about his terminal ruminations & how he got there. A part is about the building up of despair as Sun comes up.

But story has a happy ending. He is rescued just in time - by a rescue pod that has rigged a kind of sunscreen for this search mission.

Fact sheet.
Summertime on Icarus, short story, review
First published: Vogue, June 1960, as "The Hottest Piece of Real Estate in the Solar System"
Rating: A

See also.

  1. All shipwreck stories - part 1 & part 2.