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The Worlds of Joe Shannon   By: (1926-)

The Worlds of Joe Shannon by Frank M. Robinson

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction March 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

Strumming a harp while floating on a white cloud might be Paradise for some people, but it would bore others stiff. Given an unlimited chance to choose your ideal world, what would you specify palaces or log cabins?

THE WORLDS of Joe Shannon

By Frank M. Robinson

Illustrated by Paul Orban

I'll take beer, son, and thanks again for the offer. As you can see, I'm kinda down on my luck. I know what you're thinking, but I'm not really on the bum. I usually make out all right nothing fancy, mind you, but it's a living. Odd jobs in the winter and spring, follow the harvests in the summer and fall. Things are slack right now.

You? Electronics, huh? Used to know a fellow in electronics....

His name was Joe Shannon, used to work for Stellar Electric up in Fremont. Young fellow, not more'n twenty five or so. Rail thin, wispy hair, serious look you know, the one suit, absent minded type. Joe was a brain. A triple A, gold plated, genuine genius. Had a wife named Marge. Not beautiful but pretty and a nice figure and a cook you never saw the likes of. Like I say, she was married to Joe but Joe was married to his work and after you'd been around a while, you could tell there was friction.

But that ain't the beginning.

I suppose I'm partly responsible because it started when I was over for dinner one night. I had been working in the garden and doing odd jobs around the house that afternoon and I finagled it so I was invited for supper. Marge Shannon made chili that I just couldn't stay away from. Thick with beans and meat and easy on the spices so it wouldn't burn an old man's stomach.


Joe and I had just gone into the living room Marge stayed in the kitchen to do the dishes and I was feeling stuffed and kinda sleepy. All of a sudden Joe says out of a clear blue sky: "Harry, this is a hell of a world we live in, isn't it?"

Now Joe had never struck me as being the unhappy type. He loved his work, he loved his wife (and just about in that order), and so far as I knew he didn't owe any money. So I tried to feel him out, to find out where the rub was.

"There's nothing wrong with the world, Joe," I says. "It's just the people in it."

He started methodically filling his pipe and tamping down the tobacco and not saying a word and I get the feeling that he's deadly serious about something.

"You're right," he says quietly. "It isn't the world, it's the people."

I sit there feeling puzzled but a lot less sleepy and finally I ask: "Anything wrong, Joe?"

He lights his pipe and settles back in the big, overstuffed easy chair with the flowered slip cover that Marge made, still frowning. "It's an unhappy world," he repeats.

"It all depends on what side of the picture you want to look at," I says, trying to cheer him up. "Maybe you been reading too many newspaper headlines."

Joe wasn't listening. "What makes people unhappy, Harry?"

Now, son, there's a million things that make people unhappy. Given half the night, I could maybe list a couple of hundred. But to narrow it down to one or two, I couldn't do it. So I just shook my head and let Joe carry the ball.

"It's a complex world, Harry. A lot of people never adjust to it. Some of them turn the tables and try to adjust the world to them, which makes a lot of other people unhappy. No, I'd say there's a certain number of people who just don't fit in this world of ours. Maybe at a different time and on another world, they might fit. But they don't fit on this one, not right here and now."

That was a way of looking at it that I had never thought of before... Continue reading book >>

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