Three old stories

This is the place to ask about that story you remember so well -- but can't remember the title and author.

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Three old stories

Postby fhofstra10 » Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:25 pm

Hello - I am glad to discover this site, and especially, this forum. Can anyone help me ID the following three great stories that I read way back (I'm guessing 25 - 40 years ago)?

1. The narrator is a man who discovers that the apartment building that he lives in is really a space ship in disguise, apparently so that the aliens can kidnap a load of unsuspecting earthpeople at the proper time. He gets wise to the scheme at the end, if I remember right, by noticing one of the aliens, who appear to be normal humans (at least from the front!), looking at him with a third eye at the back of its head. As the roar of the rockets start, the narrator realizes his danger and runs out of the building. He then finally realizes the truth and speaks the unforgettable final words of the story: it wasn't just the building "...it was the whole [city] block", as he finds that he has not escaped, is still trapped, and is leaving earth forever, on a much bigger ship than he had imagined. "It's the whole block" has been for me a lifetime metaphor for suddenly realizing that something is an entire order of magnitude greater than originally thought.

2. In this story, three guys from earth land on an alien planet to investigate a city. The three crewmembers are (I think) the pilot/captain, the engineer, and (maybe?) an artist-type guy. On the way to the alien city, they see an interesting item on the ground, and each becomes fascinated with it, each with regards to his own specialty and interests. The engineer sees an incredible machine; the artist (?) sees a beautiful piece of art, etc. They get so engrossed that they never reach the city, and never realize that the city's inhabitants have purposely placed these devices (traps) around the city, in order to "catch" aliens (i.e., keep those annoying and inquisitive aliens -- humans, in this case -- away from their city).

3. I have the least memory of this third story. In it, a civilization is mechanized, and is completely self-perpetuating, with the machine intelligence completely capable of handling any changes that might occur by auto-repairing themselves. Almost capable, rather, since what happens is a temperature drop to near absolute zero. This is the one thing with which the electronic circuits cannot cope, since at this temperature, resistance (one of the essentials of electronics circuits) drops to zero. Sorry I do not remember more of this one; it is probably going to be a long shot.

Thanks for any suggestions and help on identifying these great old stories.
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Re: Three old stories

Postby springate » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:46 am

I was looking online to see if I could find any information on the 'it's the whole block' story, and your post was one of the responses pulled up. I remembered the story, which, as you say, was from many years ago - the engines in the basement, the cheap apartment rent, the third eye in the back of the janitor's and the policeman's head - and I would very much like to find it. The one I read was in one of the sci-fi magazines of short stories that used to abound, but I can't remember the name of the story or the author or even the magazine! I realize from the date on your post this was a few years ago, but did you have any luck with your responses?

Thanks,
Linda
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Re: Three old stories

Postby admin » Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:31 pm

I remember reading the first two stories, but can't recall the names. The first might be by Ray Bradbury, and the second by A. E. Van Vogt, but that's a long shot. Also, I think the first was adapted for radio on X Minus One.
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Re: Three old stories

Postby fhofstra10 » Sun May 03, 2009 12:24 pm

Thanks to springate's response, I have found the name of the first story in my list. It is "Shipshape Home" by Richard Matheson.
It certainly was fun to read this old story again. The story is available in the book "Duel", which is a collection of Matheson's stories. Googling the book's title and author will get you there.
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