Comments on ToolsToMakeTheToolsToMake

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Comment 31 Mar 2005^ at 02:23Z

Re your post on tools to make tools: I was thinking Murray Leinster, but a quick look at my own shelf and Amazon says 'probably not'. It sounds familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on the author.

Close, however, is the chapter 'Castaways on Ganymede' in Doc Smith's Spacehounds of IPC, apparently first serialized in Amazing Stories in 1931.

In this novel the hero Stevens, an Earthman, is stranded on Ganymede after a dastardly alien attack (or is it an attack by dastardly aliens?) and has to build/rebuild a spaceship. He lands in a heavily wooded and mountainous location, with a stream for power and outcrops of coal for smithing. (Ah, for the Ganymede of old - a lot like the country along the North Fork of the Flathead, in Montana, according to Smith.)

The only other survivor, the comely Nadia, comes to an appreciation of the task:

"As Stevens had admitted before he started the task, he had known that he had set himself a gigantic task, but he had not permitted himself to follow, step by step, the difficulties that he knew awaited him. Now, as the days stretched into weeks, and on into months he was forced to take every laborious step and it was borne in upon him just how nearly impossible that Herculean labor was to prove - just how depended any given Earthly activity is upon a vast number of others. Here he was alone - everything he needed must be fabricated by his own hands, from its original sources. He had know that program would be slow and he had been prepared for that; but he had not pictured, even to himself, half of the maddening setbacks which occurred time after time because of the crudity of the tools and equipment he was forced to use. All too often a machine or part, the product of many hours of grueling labor, would fail because of the lack of some insignificant thing - some item so common as to be taken for granted in all the Terrestrial shops, but impossible of fabrication with the means at his disposal. At such times he would set his grim jaw a trifle harder, go back one step farther toward the Stone Age, and begin all over again - to find the necessary raw material or a possible substitute and then to build the apparatus and machinery necessary to produce the part he required."

Stevens almost breaks under the pressure, but a timely declaration of love by Nadia stiffens his...upper lip.


(correlates: DiagnosisMortality, HerodotusOnThePersianPost, CleanupHitter, ...)