فصل 10

مجموعه: کتاب های متوسط / کتاب: 2001 - اودیسه فضایی / فصل 10

کتاب های متوسط

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فصل 10

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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CHAPTER TEN

Clavius Base

Clavius, two hundred and forty kilometers across, is the second largest crater that can be seen from Earth. Here, Man was building his first permanent base on the Moon. In an emergency, it could produce everything it needed to support life. Solid chemicals and gases could be produced by processing local rocks. In a great hothouse, under lamps at night and sunlight by day, thousands of small plants grew to provide oxygen and food. The scientists could turn these, and other material grown in water, into very good copies of bread and meat and vegetables.

The hundreds of men and women who worked on the Base were all highly-trained scientists and technicians, carefully chosen before they had left Earth. Though living on the Moon was physically easier than in the early days, it was still psychologically difficult. It did have its attractions, though. One of them was the low gravity, which produced a general feeling of happiness. However, this had its dangers. It was simple enough to travel in a straight line. The problem came when you tried to turn a corner, because your body continued in the same direction. It took time, and a few small accidents, for newcomers to get used to this, and more experienced Base workers tried to stay away from them until they had.


The mountains that had seemed so large just before landing had mysteriously disappeared, hidden below the Moon’s steeply curving horizon. Around the ship was a flat grey area, brightly lit by earthlight.

A number of service vehicles were now rolling up to the Aries-IB, moving on enormous tyres. But Floyd was watching a small bus that was bringing the people who wanted to meet him.

There were a number of bangs as it connected to the ship, then the sound of air moving as pressure was equalized. The inside door of the airlock opened, and the welcoming party arrived.

It was led by Ralph Halvorsen, the Base Commander. With him was his Chief Scientist, Dr Roy Michaels, and a group of scientists and managers. They seemed happy to see him, ready to unload some of their worries.

‘Very pleased to have you with us, Dr Floyd,’ said Halvorsen. ‘Did you have a good trip?’

‘Excellent,’ Floyd answered. ‘No problems, and the crew looked after me very well.’

The conversation continued as the bus moved away from the ship and into an entrance passage. A large door opened, then closed behind them. This happened again, and a third time. When the last door had closed, they were back in atmosphere again. The people Floyd saw were wearing normal clothes.

After a short walk they arrived in an office area. Floyd was happy to be surrounded by computers and telephones again after his time in space.

Halvorsen led Floyd towards a door labeled BASE COMMANDER, but before he could show him inside his office, there was an interruption. The door opened, and a small figure ran out.

‘Daddy! You’ve been outside! And you promised to take me!’

‘Well, Diana,’ said Halvorsen, ‘I only said I’d take you if I could. But I’ve been very busy meeting Dr Floyd. Shake hands with him - he’s just come from Earth.’

The little girl - Floyd decided that she was about eight - held out a hand. Her face was slightly familiar. Then, with a shock, he understood why.

‘I don’t believe it!’ he said. ‘When I was here last, she was just a baby!’

‘She had her fourth birthday last week,’ Halvorsen answered proudly.’ Children grow fast in low gravity. But they don’t age so quickly - they’ll live longer than we do.’

Floyd stared at the confident little lady, noting that she was thinner as well as taller than an Earth child. ‘It’s nice to meet you again, Diana,’ he said. Then sudden curiosity made him ask, ‘Would you like to go to Earth?’

Her eyes widened in surprise, then she shook her head,

‘It’s a nasty place - you hurt yourself when you fall down. And there are too many people.’

So here, Floyd told himself, is one of the first of the Space born. There would be more of them in the future. The time was fast approaching when Earth, like all mothers, would say goodbye to her children.

Halvorsen managed to persuade his daughter to leave him in peace, and the two men went into the office. It was only five meters square, but it had the same furniture as a Base Commander’s office on Earth. There were signed photographs of important politicians - including one of the President of the United States - on one wall, and pictures of famous astronauts on another.

Floyd sat back in a comfortable leather chair and accepted a glass of wine, made in the Base laboratory.

‘How’s it going, Ralph?’ he said. The wine was quite good.

‘Not too bad,’ Halvorsen said. ‘However, there is one thing you should know before you meet the others. My people are angry because they can’t communicate with Earth. They think their families will be worried that they’ve died of “illness”.’

‘I’m sorry about that,’ said Floyd, ‘but no one could think of a better story, and it’s worked. I met Moisewitch at the Space Station, and even he believed it.’

‘Well, that should make the police happy.’

‘Not too happy - he’d heard of TMA-1. He didn’t know what it was, but the name has got out. We need to find out what the thing is, and quickly.’

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