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A Pail of Air

Fritz Leiber

Book Overview: 

The dark star passed, bringing with it eternal night and turning history into incredible myth in a single generation!

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .o air, because there's no sound outside in the vacuum, of course. But my mind was still crawly and uneasy as I pushed through the last blankets—Pa's got them faced with aluminum foil to hold in the heat—and came into the Nest.

Let me tell you about the Nest. It's low and snug, just room for the four of us and our things. The floor is covered with thick woolly rugs. Three of the sides are blankets, and the blankets roofing it touch Pa's head. He tells me it's inside a much bigger room, but I've never seen the real walls or ceiling.

Against one of the blanket-walls is a big set of shelves, with tools and books and other stuff, and on top of it a whole row of clocks. Pa's very fussy about keeping them wound. He says we must never forget time, and without a sun or moon, that would be easy to do.

The fourth wall has blankets all over except around the fireplace, in which there is a fire that must never go out. It keeps us from freezin. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a wonderful short story about survival in the face of cosmic cataclysm. The setting is super neat and deserves to be a full-on novel. This story is good for getting a better understanding of what our atmosphere really is and dispelling some common tropes about living in the vacuum of spac...more

This story clearly attempts to fall into the category of hard science fiction, but a few scientific inaccuracies make it a bit flawed, even for the fifties.

I like the overall idea -- the 'Big Jerk' event during which the Earth was ejected from its system by an extinguished nomad star or maybe a b...more

Dated sci-fi. It can either be charming or cringe-worthy. Most of this is unfortunately the latter. Although there are a few gems in here too. Probably the best is the opening and title story, A Pail of Air. Much more timeless than the others, and much more engaging. As a short story, I would rat...more

Disturbing concept, but failed to give me a good scare by the end.

Great take on a possible end of the world. Reminds me of Bradbury.

This is the short story only. Not a collection of short stories.

I really liked this depiction of what might happen if the Earth was snatched away from the Sun, though I think Leiber's take on things is maybe a bit optimistic. The man's imagination is truly incredible! An enjoyable read!

I've always found Fritz Lieber's works enjoyable and since they date back to before I was born (even with me being OLD LOL), I've been reading them spread out over more than four decades - his sword and sorcery books when I was a wee lad. I know this isn't for everyone and some less than others....more

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