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The Runaway Skyscraper

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Author: Murray Leinster (William Fitzgerald Jenkins)
Published: 1919
Language: English
Wordcount: 17,141 / 57 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 86.4
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 1,839
Added to site: 2005.12.20 12091
More Info:

This etext was produced from the February 22, 1919 issue of Argosy magazine

Show Excerpt

sprang away, blushing crimson.

Arthur walked to the window.

"Look there!" he exclaimed, but it was too late. "I'll swear to it I saw the Half Moon, Hudson's ship," he declared excitedly. "We're way back now, and don't seem to be slacking up, either."

Estelle came to the window by his side. The rapidly changing scene before her made her gasp. It was no longer possible to distinguish night from day.

A wavering streak, moving first to the right and then to the left, showed where the sun flashed across the sky.

"What makes the sun wabble so?" she asked.

"Moving north and south of the equator," Arthur explained casually. "When it's farthest south--to the left--there's always snow on the ground. When it's farthest right it's summer. See how green it is?"

A few moments' observation corroborated his statement.

"I'd say," Arthur remarked reflectively, "that it takes about fifteen seconds for the sun to make the round trip from farthest north to farthest south."

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 3 from 3 reviews: ***
Paulo Respighi

A Manhattan skyscraper in 1919 suffers an "earthquake" which, rather than shifting it in space, drops it in a hole in time. When the building stop receding, it is in pre-Roman era America. The rest of the story is a survival tale, and the plan for a possible return.

The two main characters are a little vaguely drawn, and the other 2,000 people are just ghosts. Descriptions are okay. The science sort of creaks.

Leah A. Zeldes

"We're in a runaway skyscraper, bound for some time back before the discovery of America!"

While more readable in a stylistic sense than many early SF stories, this 1919 time-travel tale makes suspension of disbelief rather a strain for modern readers.

Wayne Goode

This was a surprisingly interesting short story, considering how old it is. The writing is a bit thin and the science is hokey. But the question of how would people react and survive if suddenly shoved into the past is interesting. Also, it gives a bit of a glimpse of what city life was like at that time. ("Three men admitting raising chickens as a hobby.")



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Brian Blose
Brian Blose is a software developer and army veteran who enjoys reading and writing fiction that contains flawed heroes, unreliable narrators and moral dilemmas. His book, The Participants, is no exception and had readers glued to the story until the very last page. As our author of the day, Blose chats about the Heinsenberg uncertainty principle, how TV shows from the 90s inspired this book and gives us some behind-the-scenes insights in the creation of The Participants.
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