February 27, 2011

Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein(4)

"The heat trap! The heat trap is gone—the quake must have gotten the power house."

So we dug again, until we found what we had to have. It didn't take long; we knew where things had to be. It was just a case of getting the rocks off. The blankets were for the stretcher; Dad wrapped them around like a cocoon and tied them in place. "Okay, Bill," he said. "Quick march, nowl"

It was then that I heard Mabel bawl. I stopped and looked at Dad. He stopped too, with an agony of indecision on his face. "Oh, damn!" he said, the first time I had ever heard him really swear. "We can't just leave her to freeze; she's a member of the family. Come, Bill."

We put the stretcher down again and ran to the bam. It was a junk heap but we could tell by Mabel's complaints where she was. We dragged the roof off her and she got to her feet. She didn't seem to be hurt but I guess she had been knocked silly. She looked at us indignantly.

We had a time of it getting her over the slabs, with Dad pulling and me pushing. Dad handed the halter to Molly. "How about the chickens?" I asked, "And the rabbits?" Some of them had been crushed; the rest were loose around the place. I felt one—a rabbit —scurry between my feet

"No time!" snapped Dad. "We can't take them; all we could do for them would be to cut their throats. Come!"

Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein(3)

Here is the way it was supposed to work: A colonist comes out from Earth with his family and lands at Leda. The Colonial Commission gives him an apartment in town on arrival, helps him pick out a piece of land to improve and helps him get a house up on it. The Commission will feed him and his family for one Earth year—that is, two Ganymede years—while he gets a couple of acres under cultivation. Then he has ten G-years in which to pay back the Commission by processing at least twenty acres for the Commission— and he is allowed to process as much land for himself as for the Commission during the time he is paying what he owes. At the end of five Earth years he owns a tidy little farm, free and clear. After that, he can spread out and acquire more land, get into trade, anything he likes. He has his toehold and has paid off his debt.

The Colonial Commission had a big expensive investment in having started the atmosphere project and made the planet fit to live on in the first place. The land processed by the colonists was its return on the investment; the day would come when the Colonial Commission would own thousands of acres of prime farmland on Ganymede which it could then sell Earthside to later settlers ... if you wanted to emigrate from Earth you would have to pay for the privilege and pay high. People like us would not be able to afford it.

By that time, although Ganymede would be closed to free immigration, Callisto would have an atmosphere and pioneers could move in there and do it all over again. It was what the bankers call "Self-liquidating," with the original investment coming from Earth.

But here is the way it actually did work out: when we landed there were only about thirty thousand people on Ganymede and they were geared to accept about five hundred immigrants an Earth year, which was about all the old-type ships could bring out. Remember, those power-pile ships took over five years for the round trip; it took a fleet of them to bring in that many a year.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn