Houston, Houston, Do You Read?
by James Tiptree Jr.; 1976 / 56 pages
Rating: A – (sci-fi /novella)
Three men are on their way home to Earth from a trip around the sun and beyond. They have a hard time contacting Houston but when they finally do make a connection, it isn’t with Houston and it isn’t in the same generation, or even the century they left. Suspicions arise.
Earth is 300 years older as they approach to return. Fortunately for them the natives seem friendly although there has apparently been an epidemic so only a few million are left. In fact, there seem to have been quite a number of changes.
Another space vehicle, the Gloria, with assistants is in the area and the astronauts leave the Sunbird, their own ship, and manage to get aboard the Gloria – a very strange vehicle indeed.
Most of the crew on Gloria are women and the men from the Sunbird are horny – things having spent at least 18 months in space so there’s a little action here and it includes some force (perhaps). Then the men find out how horny the women are – there are no men on Earth these days – haven’t been since the time of the epidemic and it’s almost a war – gun and all.
The suspense is carried from the first paragraphs right through to the end – it’s very good – thought provoking. What would a world without men (or without women) look like? But I certainly read this as a cautionary tale.