Stories that still work: Rescue Party (1946)

Rescue Party is a story about a ship from an alien galactic federation attempting to save people and cultural artifacts that it could from the doomed planet Earth. It was written in 1946 by Arthur C. Clarke and collected in:

Clarke, Arthur Charles. 2002. The collected stories of Arthur C. Clarke. New York: Tom Doherty Associates. (Find in a library).

Rescue Party holds up well with little suspension of disbelief required. The multi-species crew is plausible and sympathetic. The meme of “We’re the only ship in the vicinity” is still alive and well in the 21st Century. I believe it does a decent job in depicting Earth as a mysterious, alien world and in depicting the crew as good problem solvers. I really enjoyed their use of the Earth as a shield against Nova Sol and the use of Earth’s Moon to let them know when to activate their star drive. Reading the story I don’t notice any anachronisms, so I think it holds up well.

The main problem I have with Rescue Party is one that I’ve had with many science fiction stories, books and movies. Our sun is NOT going nova. Not now. Not ever. It will grow to be a red giant, definitely scarfing up Mercury and Venus and perhaps Earth. Long before that it will be hot enough to boil Earth’s oceans away. But it will be a gradual process. There will be no need for a six hour deadline. But since our sun going nova over and over again in fiction is not an artifact of 1946 that displays the story’s age, I’m not really holding it against Rescue Party.

 

Reference:

The Once and Future Sun                                                                           http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Lectures/vistas97.html

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