Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arthur C Clarke's "Hate" aka "At the End of Orbit" (novelette, revenge): This Hungarian man hates Russians

Quote from short story titled Hate aka At the End of Orbit by Arthur C ClarkeI've a feeling the impact this story will have on a reader will depend on opinions reader holds about Russia - story takes essentially an anti-Russia stand, particularly about some sort of Russian interference in Hungary. I'm not familiar with relevant political situation, & I grew up at a place where there was essentially no Russian propaganda - pro or anti. So I take political opinions here as just another story teller's version.

Story summary.

"Szabo Tibor, late of Budapest" is the man assigned the job of tying a rope (cable?) to a Russian space capsule that has "been round the moon a couple of times" & has now on return crashed near New Guinea in the Pacific, so pearl mining ship Arafura (of which he's crew member) can drag it to a nearby island to claim bounty. They don't report the location of find immediately to protect the location of their pearl mining patch from other miners.

But Tibor has a grudge against Russians - his brother Theo had died stepping on a Russian mine. While setting up the capsule for under sea ride, he will learn the capsule has a live occupant with 5 hours oxygen supply. He will learn this by getting in conversation where (I think) Tibor touches his helmet to hull & is heard inside, but response from inside is yes/no via taps on hull. Finally he will tell the astronaut about his revenge plan - how he will make sure the rope keeps breaking on the way so capsule won't surface for over 5 hours.

Well, eventually it will take even longer to reach for safety than planned, as the wreck gets stuck in sand near shore. And his shipmates find to their horror the nature of the wreck - none other than Tibor knew of human occupant - a tiny woman. And the dead astronaut will get her revenge too - she has prepared a spool of tape that apparently has a record of her conversations with Tibor during "rescue".


I'd read it a while back, & might have confused an occasional detail.

Collected in.

  1. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke".
  2. Arthur Clarke's "Tales of Ten Worlds".

Fact sheet.

First published: If, November 1961 as "At the End of Orbit".
Rating: B.
Author's introduction to the story in Collected Stories: "In 1960, William MacQitty (A Night to Remember) ... asked me to write a movie treatment entitled 'The Sea & the Stars'. Nothing came of the film so I turned it into a short story, entitled 'Hate'. If magazine retitled it, but I prefer the original: more punch."
Related: Stories of Arthur C Clarke.