stories from
The Green Hills of Earth
by
Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein

This page:
Delilah and the Space-Rigger
Space Jockey
The Long Watch
Gentlemen, Be Seated
“It’s Great to Be Back!”
“—We Also Walk Dogs”
Ordeal in Space
The Green Hills of Earth
Logic of Empire

Category:

Science Fiction

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Notes (Hal’s):

Heinlein acknowledges C.L. Moore as his source of the phrase “the green hills of earth.”

My edition has a list of copyrights, but doesn’ identify them by story. Lucky for me, The Locus Index to Science Fiction provides original magazine publications, with dates, and Wikipedia articles about the magazines identify the publishers, so I believe I have correctly reconstructed the copyrights for each story..

— end note

Delilah and the Space-Rigger

Copyright © 1949 by McCall Corporation

We fired four of them for being drunk on the job; Tiny had to break one stiff’s arm before he would stay fired. What worried us was where did they get it? Turned out a shipfitter had rigged a heatless still, using the vacuum around us. He was making vodka from potatoes swiped from the commissary. I hated to let him go, but he was too smart.

Since we were falling free in a 24-hour circular orbit, with everything weightless and floating, you’d think that shooting craps was impossible. But a radioman named Peters figured a dodge to substitute steel dice and a magnetic field. He also eliminated the element of chance, so we fired him.

Topic:

Gambling

text checked (see note) Aug 2020

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Space Jockey

Copyright © 1947 by Curtis Publishing Company

In space, it does no good to reach your journey’s end if you flash on past at miles per second, or even crawling along at a few hundred miles per hour. To catch an egg on a plate—don’t bump!

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The Long Watch

Copyright © 1949 by The American Legion Magazine

He accepted, without surprise, the fact that he was not unhappy. There was a sweetness about having no further worries of any sort. He did not hurt, he was not uncomfortable, he was no longer even hungry. Physically he felt fine and his mind was at peace. He was dead—he knew that he was dead; yet for a time he was able to walk and breathe and see and feel.

He was not even lonesome. He was not alone; there were comrades with him—the boy with his finger in the dike, Colonel Bowie, too ill to move but insisting that he be carried across the line, the dying Captain of the Chesapeake still with deathless challenge on his lips, Rodger Young peering into the gloom. They gathered about him in the dusky bomb room.

Topic:

Heroes

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Gentlemen, Be Seated

Copyright © 1948 by Popular Publications, Inc.

It takes both agoraphobes and claustrophobes to colonize the Moon. Or make it agoraphiles and claustrophiles, for the men who go out into space had better not have phobias. If anything on a planet, in a planet, or in the empty reaches around the planets can frighten a man, he should stick to Mother Earth. A man who would make his living away from terra firma must be willing to be shut up in a cramped spaceship, knowing that it may become his coffin, and yet he must be undismayed by the wide-open spaces of space itself. Spacemen—men who work in space, pilots and jetmen and astrogators and such—are men who like a few million miles of elbow room.

On the other hand the Moon colonists need to be the sort who feel cozy burrowing around underground like so many pesky moles.

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“It’s Great to Be Back!”

Copyright © 1947 by Curtis Publishing Company

“Let’s be honest. What does it take to get to Luna City?”

“A ticket.”

“Smarty pants. I don’t mean as a tourist; I mean to get a job there. You know the answer: Intelligence. It costs a lot to send a man to the Moon and more to keep him there. To pay off, he has to be worth a lot. High I.Q., good compatibility index, superior education—everything that makes a person pleasant and easy and interesting to have around. We’ve been spoiled; the ordinary human cussedness that groundhogs take for granted, we now find intolerable, because Loonies are different. The fact that Luna City is the most comfortable environment man ever built for himself is beside the point—it’s the people who count. Let’s go home.”

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“—We Also Walk Dogs”

Copyright © 1941 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc.

“There’s always money in giving people what they want.”

Topic:

Money

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Ordeal in Space

Copyright © 1948 by Hearst Magazines, Inc.

Maybe we should never have ventured out into space. Our race has but two basic, innate fears; noise and the fear of falling. Those terrible heights—Why should any man in his right mind let himself be placed where he could fall . . . and fall . . . and fall—But all spacemen are crazy. Everybody knows that.

“Almighty Ruler of the all
Whose power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe;
Oh, grant Thy mercy and Thy grace
To those who venture into space.”

He wanted to switch it off, but he had to hear it out, he could not stop listening to it, though it hurt him in his heart with the unbearable homesickness of the hopelessly exiled. Even as a cadet this one hymn could fill his eyes with tears; now he kept his face turned away from the others to try to hide from them the drops wetting his cheeks.

Note (Hal’s):

Having read this as a preteen, I always have my own emotional reaction to hearing “Eternal Father strong to save...” One version is the US Navy Hymn; a variant asks aid for travelers on land and in the air as well as at sea. If anyone ever wants to add a verse for spacefarers, I hope they realize Heinlein already wrote it.

— end note

. . . why, Knath could sit for hours with a friend or trusted acquaintance, saying nothing, needing to say nothing. “Growing together” they called it—his entire race had so grown together that they had needed no government, until the Earthmen came.

Saunders had once asked his friend why he exerted himself so little, was satisfied with so little. More than an hour passed and Saunders was beginning to regret his inquisitiveness when Knath replied, “My fathers have labored and I am weary.”

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The Green Hills of Earth

Copyright © 1947 by Curtis Publishing Company

You sang his words in school:

“I pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave me birth;
Let me rest my eyes on the fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.”

Or perhaps you sang in French, or German, Or it might have been Esperanto, while Terra’s rainbow banner rippled over your head.

The language does not matter--it was certainly an Earth tongue. No one has ever translated “Green Hills” into the lisping Venerian speech; no Martian ever croaked and whispered it in the dry corridors. This is ours.

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Logic of Empire

Copyright © 1941 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc.

Early, he had observed that the clients could be divided roughly into two categories, the child of nature and the broken men. The first were those of little imagination and simple standards. In all probability they had known nothing better back on earth; they saw in the colonial culture, not slavery, but freedom from responsibility, security, and an occasional spree. The others were the broken men, the outcasts, they who had once been somebody, but, through some defect of character, or some accident, had lost their places in society. Perhaps the judge had said, “Sentence suspended if you ship for the colonies.”

He realized with sudden panic that his own status was crystallizing; he was becoming one of the broken men. [...] Out of the dimness of his memory he recaptured a phrase which he had read somewhere, some philosopher of history: “No slave is ever freed, save he free himself.”

True, it was a rough frontier culture and a simple government with few laws and an unwritten constitution, but a framework of customs was in actual operation and its gross offenders were punished—with no higher degree of injustice than one finds anywhere.

It surprised Humphrey Wingate that fugitive slaves, the scum of Earth, were able to develop an integrated society. It had surprised his ancestors that the transported criminals of Botany Bay should develop a high civilization in Australia. Not that Wingate found the phenomenon of Botany Bay surprising—that was history, and history is never surprising—after it happens.

“Radical and conservative are terms for emotional attitudes, not sociological opinions.”

“—I would say that you have fallen into the commonest fallacy of all in dealing with social and economic subjects—the ‘devil theory.’ ”

“Huh?”

“You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity. Colonial slavery is nothing new; it is the inevitable result of imperial expansion, the automatic result of an antiquated financial structure—”

“I pointed out the part the banks played in my book.”

“No, no, no! You think banders are scoundrels. They are not. Nor are company officials, nor patrons, nor the governing classes back on earth. Men are constrained by necessity and build up rationalizations to account for their acts. It is not even cupidity. Slavery is economically unsound, non-productive, but men drift into it whenever the circumstances compel it. A different financial system—But that’s another story.”

“It’s nothing new; it happened in the Old South, it happened again in California, in Mexico, in Australia, in South Africa. Why? Because in any expanding free-enterprise economy which does not have a money system designed to fit its requirements, the use of mother-country capital to develop the colony inevitably results in subsistence-level wages at home and slave labor in the colonies. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and all the good will in world on the part of the so-called ruling classes won’t change it, because the basic problem is one requiring scientific analysis and a mathematical mind.”

Topic:

Slavery

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