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Author Topic: PseudoPod 688: The Tunnel Ahead  (Read 407 times)


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on: February 08, 2020, 04:15:21 AM
PseudoPod 688: The Tunnel Ahead

Author: Alice Glaser
Narrator: Alethea Kontis
Host: Alex Hofelich
Audio Producer: Marty Perrett

“The Tunnel Ahead” first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1961

The floor of the topolino was full of sand. There was sand in Toni’s undershorts, too, and damp sand rubbing between his toes. Damn it, he thought, here they build you six-lane highways right on down to the ocean, a giant three-hundred car turntable to keep traffic moving over the beach, efficiency and organization and mechanization and cooperation and what does it get you? Sand. And inside the car, in spite of the air-conditioning, the sour smell of sun-dried salt water.

Tom’s muscles ached with their familiar cramp. He ran his hands uselessly around the steering wheel, wishing he had something to do, or that there were room to stretch in the tiny car, then felt instantly ashamed of his antisocial wish. Naturally there was nothing for him to do because the drive, as on all highways, was set at “Automatic.” That was the law. And although he had to sit hunched over so that his knees were drawn nearly to his chin, and the roof of the car pressed down on the back of his neck like the lid of a box, and his four kids crammed into the rear seat seemed to be breathing down his shirt collar—well, that was something you simply had to adjust to, and besides, the Topolino had all the five-foot wheelbase the law allowed. So there was nothing to complain about.

Besides, it hadn’t been a bad day, all things considered. Five hours to cover the forty miles out to the beach, then of course a couple of hours waiting in line at the beach for their turn in the water. The trip home was taking a little longer: it always did. The Tunnel, too, was unpredictable. Say ten o’clock, for getting home. Pretty good time. As good a way as any of killing a leisureday, he guessed. Sometimes there seemed to be an awful lot of leisuretime to kill.

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I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


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Reply #1 on: February 20, 2020, 12:19:03 AM
I was chatting with Kitty about this story and one of her reactions was horror as to why she didn't stop having babies or society bringing more people into this world. Part of the conversation included the intense boredom of the society full of busy-work, so procreation was one of the few diversions available. After further discussion, we came to the conclusion that this was a reflection of a pre-birth control pill society. Adds a nice extra layer.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

Scuba Man

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Reply #2 on: February 22, 2020, 11:52:15 PM
Wheeeeee! Let's go to the beach.  :o
I had weird mental images of The Jetsons (which, according to Wikipedia was running until 1987?!).

Odd odd episode. It reminded me of a Drabblecast episode.  8)

"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.


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Reply #3 on: March 02, 2020, 06:05:49 AM
The thought of regularly entering a death lottery just to be able to visit an overcrowded beach was bad, the father's apparent enthusiasm for the thrill of the death-risk was worse, but what bothered me most was the standardized repression of emotional enthusiasm and the desire to fidget, down to drugging the little girl who made spontaneous remarks.

The topic of overcrowding is nothing new in science fiction, of course -- the first story I remember reading about it was Anne McCaffrey's Decision at Doona, where the family become colonists because otherwise their boisterous son will probably be ordered to psychological adjustment. Although now that I look at the show notes, this was a 1961 story, which really isn't surprising, and Doona was a 1969 novel. Anyway, I thought the grim tone picture was pretty well portrayed here, even if the story was a bit old-fashioned.