Friday, August 1, 2008

Murray Leinster's "The Runaway Skyscraper" (novelette, time travel, free): Adventure thousands of years ago in the current location of New York City

Quote from short story titled The Runaway Skyscraper by Murray LeinsterWhile not among the most entertaining stories, this might be among the earliest of the kind where a physical structure mysteriously appears at a place it doesn't belong. A more entertaining modern variant, but with a wilder plot, is Adam Troy-Castro's "Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl's".

Native Americans might find parts of the story offensive.

Story summary.

As an after-effect of an earthquake, the ground shifted under an office building called the "Metropolitan Tower" in New York along the "Fourth Dimension" (time) - sinking the building down thousands of years in time! No other building is affected, & this building is transported generally unharmed to the ancient wilderness where New York City now stands.

As a coincidence, the building will appear next to a village of native Americans. Small parts of the story deal with interactions of building dwellers with those of this village.

It's mostly about adventure in this time - primarily finding food for some 2000 men & woman in the building by city dwellers who don't know how to get food from nature. Plus a background romance between the hero Arthur Chamberlain & his secretary Estelle Woodward.

Arthur, a civil engineer, will figure out what happened, will provide leadership to the stranded lot, & will eventually get the building back to its own time by adding soap to a natural water reservoir below the building!

This story talks of extreme abundance of "wood-pigeons" in the country-side of this era; they will be food for time travelers during their early days. This abundance also figures in another Leinster story - "Sidewise in Time".

I found it curious that electric supply to the building was not affected by travel. Where was the building drawing power from?

Fact sheet.

First published: Argosy magazine, 22 February 1919 issue.
Rating: B
Download full text.
Related: All stories of Murray Leinster.