Sunday, June 14, 2020

"Slaves of Mercury"

Another story from that science fiction collection.   A reminder that not every story of the classic era was inspired work.

Explorer returns to Earth from the outer planets and finds the inhabitants of Mercury have occupied and enslaved Earth.  Plucky explorer leads a few other troublemakers to heroic victory over high temperature Nazis.  At least it reads like the lessons from World War II.  

There is the beautiful girlfriend who has been waiting for his return.  The Mercurians in spite of their fundamentally different origins have carnal ambitions for our women.  (Do you remember the awful 1950s movie, Mars Needs Women?)

It is both predictable and weak on science.   Where the limitations on women's roles are predictably 1950s, the notion that 24th century Earth lacks fighter aircraft that can attack spaceships in the stratosphere but can build a spaceship that can travel to the outer planets is just painful.


  1. There is a science fiction story I read many years ago that I have often thought of lately.

    An historian has discovered that someone has invented a sort of television that can look back into the past – at any given time and place – and believes that it is being suppressed by the government.

    There is a psychological aspect to the story as the historian and his wife lost a child in distressing circumstances and, for complicated reasons related to his responsibility for the death, he wants to prove that the Carthaginians did not practice child sacrifice.

    He eventually finds instructions for making the device and publishes them – it turns out that it is an extremely simple modification which can be easily made to any standard consumer television.

    A government scientist contacts him to explain why the government had been trying to suppress the device. He explains that the device does work – it does allow someone to look back into the past at any given location – but that because of the “noise” created by the passage of time, it is only effective looking back about 10 minutes into the past. Beyond that length of time it just becomes fuzz and static.

    But, the scientist explains, there will now no longer be any privacy – any one can track anyone else in essentially “real-time” no matter where they go.

    The current ubiquity of cameras has caused me to think of this old story. Seem like it is sort of coming true.

    Any idea about the story – name or author?

  2. "The Dead Past" by Isaac Asimov.

  3. The Dead Past by Asimov?