EP487: New Folks’ Home

by Clifford Simak
narrated by Norm Sherman


about the author…

author Clifford Simak

(source: wikipedia) “Clifford Donald Simak (August 3, 1904 – April 25, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. He was honored by fans with three Hugo Awards and by colleagues with one Nebula Award. The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its third SFWA Grand Master and the Horror Writers Association made him one of three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Simak was born in Millville, Wisconsin in 1904, son of John Lewis and Margaret (Wiseman) Simak. He married Agnes Kuchenberg on April 13, 1929 and they had two children, Richard (Dick) Scott (d. 2012) and Shelley Ellen. Simak attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and later worked at various newspapers in the Midwest. He began a lifelong association with the Minneapolis Star and Tribune (inMinneapolis, Minnesota) in 1939, which continued until his retirement in 1976. He became Minneapolis Star’s news editor in 1949 and coordinator of Minneapolis Tribune’s Science Reading Series in 1961. In a blurb in Time and Again he wrote, “I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty three years and have two children. My favorite recreation is fishing (the lazy way, lying in a boat and letting them come to me). Hobbies: Chess, stamp collecting, growing roses.” He dedicated the book to his wife Kay, “without whom I’d never have written a line”. He was well liked by many of his science fiction cohorts, especially Isaac Asimov. He died in Minneapolis in 1988.

Simak became interested in science fiction after reading the works of H. G. Wells as a child. His first contribution to the literature was “The World of the Red Sun”, published by Hugo Gernsback in the December 1931 issue of Wonder Stories with one opening illustration by Frank R. Paul. Within a year he placed three more stories in Gernsback’s pulp magazines and one in Astounding Stories, then edited by Harry Bates. But his only science fiction publication between 1932 and 1938 was The Creator (Marvel Tales #4, March–April 1935), a notable story with religious implications, which was then rare in the genre.

Once John W. Campbell, at the helm of Astounding from October 1937, began redefining the field, Simak returned and was a regular contributor to Astounding Science Fiction (as it was renamed in 1938) throughout the Golden Age of Science Fiction (1938–1950). At first, as in the 1939 serial novel Cosmic Engineers, he wrote in the tradition of the earlier “superscience” subgenre that E. E. “Doc” Smith perfected, but he soon developed his own style, which is usually described as gentle and pastoral. During this period, Simak also published a number of war and western stories in pulp magazines. His best-known novel may be City, a collection of short stories with a common theme of mankind’s eventual exodus from Earth.

Simak continued to produce award-nominated novels throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Aided by a friend, he continued writing and publishing science fiction and, later, fantasy, into his 80s. He believed that science fiction not rooted in scientific fact was responsible for the failure of the genre to be taken seriously, and stated his aim was to make the genre a part of what he called “realistic fiction.”

Comments (14)

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  1. This was really really good. I am already in adoration with this particular voice (the host and the reader or this weeks selection) and to have a delicious story to compliment it brought everything together for me. As I get older and my children grow into young adults, becoming a senior citizen is starting to sink in as a reality. I recently attended a birthday for a woman turning 90, and some of her friends from middle school and college were there and everyone was of sound mind and very healthy. After the party we all went back to the birthday girls house and I found myself walking to her her chair and sitting at her feet, I held her hands and talked about the day, her gifts, and the weather and I felt so honored that she was taking time out just for me. All that to say this, we will never get out of life alive, so I hope that we can learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others and cherish the things around us. Sorry for the rant and rave.

  2. Harbo says:

    Sorry Felicia, I must disagree, this is a great classic story, one of my favourites, diminished, by the tense breathless delivery, completely at odds with the style of the story and the nature of the setting. I feel the style is more suited to the sister podcasts and other yarns that Norm has served well. A pity, I hope someone does this in a quieter less inflective style and saves Simac from further obscurity.
    The theme of isolation, as opposed to loneliness, is one I enjoy as my own ageing sneaks upon me.

  3. Shoey says:

    this story isn’t written by or read by a woman… the misogyny is unacceptable!!!

    • Mat says:

      Are we too progressive for your tastes?

      • Shoey says:

        science fiction is being ruined by social justice warriors, via la resistance!

        • Mat says:

          To be clear, you’re saying running a story “written by or read by a woman” makes us “social justice warriors” because in your opinion stories “written by or read by a woman” have “ruined” science fiction?

          In other words, beings from unexplored locations, laser weapons, light-speed travel and cryogenic suspension are all cool, but people with vaginas telling stories is crazy talk?

          It’s an interesting image for one to choose to project of oneself. Good luck with it!

          • Shoey says:

            substandard writing being elevated to award-worthy status hurts the industry and is ethically repugnant no matter who writes it.

            and the inability to understand sarcasm reveals a blind spot fueled by emotion.

          • Mat says:

            Your comments said nothing about substandard writing. Your comment suggested EP suffers a heavy-handed political correctness because we run stories written by women. That is inaccurate, and by itself, with no further discussion (especially on a post for an unrelated story) drips with lazy, lame sexism.

            I’ll not dig this trench further. We welcome criticism. We love it, actually — both of our stories and our organization. But a flippant comment that does not relate to the story it falls under is not criticism, it’s shouting to be heard.

            We are more progressive than most of our contemporaries. We feature far more stories written and/or read by women than any other show with which I am familiar, but even our rate of 35-45% is still far less than the percentage of women on the population, and it is not and has not ever been our goal to feature gender over quality. All of our stories fail to resonate with some percentage of the audience. Some of them fail to resonate with a large portion. This is not a situation unique to the female authors.

            Our mission is to have fun sharing stories and to support up-and-coming authors. If that’s too progressive, so be it. The world is full of choices. If you are so bothered that we took one month — 5 stories out of 52 — to feature stories by women and authors outside the traditional gender binary, you’re probably going to want to go elsewhere. We’re going to take another month soon to feature Hugo nominees, and some of those stories won’t have space ships or robots. But it’s a tradition that we are very proud to continue and that’s going to trump your sadness.

          • Shoey says:

            you seem to be a lot more touchy about than I am, I made a sarcastic remark and you can’t let it go, must everyone agree with you?

          • Mat says:

            Nah, kid. You be you. I’m sure it is its own reward.

            Much love

          • Shoey says:

            name-calling… so typical.

  4. Micah says:

    I loved this story. That’s all. I just loved it.
    Oh! And thanks for the Frost as well.

  5. block_level says:

    The narrator’s sharp breathes through his nose were really distracting, I couldn’t finish the story. Just my $0.02.

  6. crypto nomico says:

    Love your voice Norm. As unique as it is I am never distracted by it. Simak’s story is an uncanny mix of sweet & strange. Ordinary guy, ordinary house, extraordinary build up to a classic SF realization. You brought out the main character’s growing WTF.