Saturday, March 8, 2008

Reading of Heinlein's "The Green Hills of Earth"

Thanks to a post at SFFaudio, we learned that BBC7’s Seventh Dimension will broadcast a reading of Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “The Green Hills of Earth” (1947) tomorrow, March 9. Thereafter, the broadcast will be available for about a week through BBC7’s Listen Again feature.

Here’s a description of Heinlein’s story, from SFFaudio: “This is the poignant story of Rhysling, the blind space-going songwriter whose poetic skills rival Rudyard Kipling’s. This yarn is about a radiation-blinded spaceship engineer crisscrossing the solar system writing and singing some of the best lyrics in science fiction. In a fine display of writing skill, the spaceship and crew feel as real to the reader as a contemporary tramp steamer.

And here are some lines from The Grand Canal, a song about Mars, taken from Heinlein’s story:

As Time and Space come bending back
       to shape this star-specked scene,
The tranquil tears of tragic joy still
       spread their silver sheen;
Along the Grand Canal still soar the
       fragile Towers of Truth;
Their fairy grace defends this place of
       Beauty, calm, and couth.

Bone-tired the race that raised the
       Towers, forgotten are their lores;
Long gone the gods who shed the tears
       that lap these crystal shores.
Slow beats the time-worn heart of Mars
       beneath this icy sky;
The thin air whispers voicelessly that all
       who live must die-

Yet still the lacy Spires of Truth sing
       Beauty's madrigal
And she herself will ever dwell along the
       Grand Canal!

-- From
The Grand Canal, by permission of Lux Transcriptions, Ltd., London and Luna City.

As SFFaudio notes, Heinlein credited the title of his story to "Shambleau," a short story about Mars by C. L. Moore (1933) in which a spacefaring smuggler named Northwest Smith hummed the tune The Green Hills of Earth to “himself in a surprisingly good baritone as he climbed the stairs.”

Heinlein’s short story “The Green Hills of Earth” has appeared in several anthologies, including Invasion from Mars: Interplanetary Stories selected by Orson Welles (1949), which we detailed in our post of September 21, 2007.


tinkoo said...

Paul: This message is not related to post it's attached to - I didn't find another suitable place to send you a message.

First, thanks for linking me.

Second, I've some Mars posts - a little over half dozen stories - may be you haven't read some of those stories: at Variety SF; at my old clarke-specific site. Includes stories by Niven, Clarke, H Beam Piper, Kage Baker, Bradbury, Heinlein; a few of the stories are available online.

PS: Incidentally, I once did a post on Green Hills of Earth. But that is based on written story.

Anonymous said...

Hi: Thanks for the comments. You've got a great blog. I wasn't aware of the Niven stories but the Piper story is one of my favorites. Paul

dichroic said...

Quick note: in the Grand Canal poem's last stanza, that should be lacy Spires of Truth, not lazy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing out the error in the last stanza of the poem, Grand Canal. We've made the correction. Paul