Tuesday, January 5, 2010

BBC podcast of Robert A. Heinlein's 1947 short story "The Green Hills of Earth"

BBC Radio 7’s Seventh Dimension recently broadcast a reading of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic short story “The Green Hills of Earth” (1947), a tale about Rhysling, a poetic radiation-blinded spaceship engineer who travels the solar system writing and singing songs. The 30-minute broadcast will be available for the next few days as a streaming podcast through BBC7’s Listen Again feature.

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.

Heinlein attributed the title of his story to "Shambleau," (1933) another short story about Mars by Catherine L. Moore 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.”

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