by Fritz Leiber. Preface by Eric Flint. My reaction when I first read this story, somewhere around the age of fifteen, was perhaps bizarre. “A Pail of Air”is a story. My first encounter with Fritz Leiber’s short story “A Pail of Air” was in March via the X Minus One radio show. At the time, I could still not read or write and. Given such a setting, the story is naturally dedicated to Fritz Leiber and his famous “A Pail of Air.” I remember reading that story as a child.

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So we were all settled around the fire in a wink, and Ma pushed up some cans to thaw lfiber supper, and Pa began. They reveal that other groups of humans have survived at ArgonneBrookhavenand Harwell nuclear research facilities as well as in Tannu Tuvaand that plans are being made to establish uranium-mining colonies at Great Slave Leibee or in the Congo region.

The floor is covered pial thick woolly rugs. But if we were flabbergasted at them, they were double–flabbergasted at us. You think the beautiful young lady will wait for me till I grow up? I don’t know what it says about the story that I was fine with it only being 90 pages long – does it mean that I wasn’t especially gripped? Leiber’s science fiction includes the planet-smashing The Wanderer in which a large cast mostly survive flood, fire, and the sexual attentions of feline aliens, lejber the satirical A Spectre is Haunting Texas in which a gangling, exo-skeleton-clad actor from the Moon leads a revolution and finds his true love.

Neither do I, for that matter, not having to carry the whole responsibility for keeping frihz human race going, so to speak.

They were simply people, you see. As Pa kept saying, “It just doesn’t seem right to let this fire go out.

A Pail of Air by Fritz Leiber

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 black hole, so the temperatures dropped to the point where the planet’s atmosphere freezes. And that destroys your ability to like this text. Alas well written texts can still fall far from the mark because of scientific flaws and inaccuracies. Yes, a beautiful young lady’s face all glowing in the dark and looking at me from the fifth floor of the opposite apartment, which hereabouts is the floor just above the white blanket of frozen air.


It has a lovely texture, like some rich cloth or fur, or the petals of flowers, and everything else worthwhile. Sprague de Camp’s “A Gun for Dinosaur,” a story which appears later in this anthology and about which I make some remarks in an afterword. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Some details are pretty elaborate — long-distance radio communications are rendered impossible since the ionosp 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.

More fiction than science, this sci-fi short story sets up a mood more than a plausible reality, and a part of me wondered about whether reality would actually play out the way Mr Leiber claims, but suspension of belief is central to reading any fictional account, so I gave him his due.

Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Let me tell you about the Nest. He engages in fantasies of killing his own men whom he seems to hate even more than the enemy due to their obsession with killing: I’ve always found Fritz Lieber’s works enjoyable and since they date back to before I was born even with me being OLD LOLI’ve been reading them spread out over more than four decades – his sword and sorcery books when I was a wee lad.

Pa says we live better than kings ever did, breathing pure oxygen, but we’re used to it and don’t notice. I have a hankering to see them for myself. Nursed me and took care of the two of you, too.

But there wasn’t any light leibfr around inside them now, or anywhere else. All of these gases in neat separate layers. Ma started moaning again, “I’ve always known there was something outside there, waiting to get us. Unfortunately, he drops it behind the tub and it dies before he can rescue it. That was a worse idea than the one about something coming down from the dark star to get us.


One of the poorer stories in the collection — Tom Dorset, an artist plagued by his recent inability to create, wanders from his cabin. She stood there looking at us the strangest way, and she carried something bright and unwinking in her hand.

That is indeed quite a list! Now, with Pa telling his story for the umpteenth time to take our minds off another scare, Peiber got to thinking of the frozen folk again. The narrator engaged in the ,eiber with og Martian enemies undergoes a crisis where he asks himself ar questions: What, I asked myself, if the frozen folk were coming to life? He sometimes doesn’t mind telling that story, and Sis and I sure like to listen to it, and he got my idea. A person can hold it only so long, and then he’s got to toss it to someone else.

In one of the rooms, an old man sits stiff in a chair, with an arm and a leg in splints.

A Pail of Air

There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Pa heard the last radio voices fade away years ago, and had seen some of the last folks die who weren’t as lucky or well-protected as us.

Pretty soon I was feeling my familiar way through the thirty or so blankets and rugs Pa has got hung around to slow down the escape of air from the Nest, aa I wasn’t quite so scared. Refresh and try again. And I liked the subtle antiwar themes.

I’d forgotten about that on account of trying to hide it from the others. Those things don’t matter. We know that everything is dead out there.