Every era in history has had its Pop Ganlon's. Along in years and not successful and not caring much anyway. A matter of living out their years, following an obscure path to oblivion.It was that way in ancient Egypt, just as it will be when the Solar System shrinks to our size. And once in a while such men are given an opportunity to contribute to the society that has forgotten them....
Pop Ganlon was no hero--he was only a spaceman. A spaceman and a father. In fact, Pop was rather no-account, even in a profession that abounded with drifters. He had made a meagre living prospecting asteroids and hauling light freight and an occasional passenger out in the Belt Region. Coffee and cakes, nothing more. Not many people knew Pop had a son in the Patrol, and even fewer knew it when the boy was blasted to a cinder in a back alley in Lower Marsport.
Pop went on eating and breathing, but his life was over after that. He hit the bottle a little harder and his ship, The Luck, grew rustier and tackier, and those were the only outward signs that Pop Ganlon was a living dead man. He kept on grubbing among the cold rocks and pushing The Luck from Marsport to Callisto and back with whatever low-mass payloads he could pick up. He might have lived out his string of years like that, obscure and alone, if it hadn't been for John Kane. Kane was Pop Ganlon's ticket to a sort of personal immortality--if there is such a thing for an old spaceman.
It was in Yakki, down-canal from Marsport, that Kane found Pop. There is a small spaceport there--a boneyard, really--for buckets whose skippers can't pay the heavy tariff imposed by the big ramp. All the wrecks nest there while waiting hopefully for a payload or a grubstake. They have all of Solis Lacus for a landing field, and if they spill it doesn't matter much. The drifting red sands soon
A sad and bitter old space pilot discovers he may have a score to settle with the passenger he was carrying to one of Jupiter's moons.
Well-written and plotted, with nice characters and no sentiment cluttering up the story.
Now THIS is how you write a good sci-fi story. Pop Ganlon, a weary old spaceman with a bucket of bolts for a ship, is hijacked by an interstellar murderer. Fast-paced with a really neat punch at the end. Highly recommend.
Very short, to the point, well crafted good pulp. While there are no plot surprises, I got an immediate connection to the story because of quality of the authors descriptions.