Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jon Stopa's "A Pair of Glasses" (short story, free): Materialism is better than spiritualism

Illustration by van Dongen, accompanying the publication in British edition of Astounding Science Fiction magazine the short story A Pair of Glasses by Jon Stopa
While it's a better read than many post-apocalypse stories I've read, focusing on reconstruction instead of showing us all the pain, it does have long philosophical passages that went right over my head, some sounding outright illogical.

Russian communism, e.g., is supposed to be different from US capitalism because Americans are materialistic while Russians are spiritual! There are also some inane & pointless references to "eastern mysticism" (whatever the hell that is).

The story is in the form of conflicting opinions between two friends - one materialistic, other supposedly spiritual - who go on to found their separate communes in a post war US.


  1. This may be the oldest story I've seen that explicitly mentions a now not uncommonly discussed difficulty any future reconstruction will have: all readily accessible metals & fossil fuels are already mined. So we dig deeper & at more inaccessible places with the machines. What happens when a war destroys the machines that can dig deep?

    In the story, it's partly recycling old metal objects & partly a quest to find substitutes from stuff now readily available.
  2. Title appears to signify a win of materialism over spiritualism. The spiritual man, now old & with failing eyesight, walks long distance to materialistic one, who's a glass maker, in the hope of getting a pair of vision glasses.

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, April 1958.
Download full text as part of the scans of Astounding (British Edition), July 1958 where it was reprinted.
Rating: B.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of Jon Stopa.