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What Need of Man?
written by "Summers, Leo"
...at's what it's like out here. Not that you care a damn. You'll never come up here, you're smart enough for that. Give me a paddle, Bannister, that's what I want. It's no more than a man in a barrel deserves. It's black out here, black and there's nothing to stand on. The earth looks like a flat circle of light and very big, but it doesn't make me feel any better. These buggies of yours won't be any use to anybody until you let the pilot do his own work. I crashed once, in a Gypsy Moth, with my controls all shot away by an overenthusiastic Russian fighter pilot near the Turkish border. Coming down, I felt the way I do now. "Look at the instruments and remember, Bannister. My reflexes are perfect. There's nothing wrong with me. I could split rails with an axe now, if I had an axe. An axe or a paddle. Harry, I'm not getting back down in one piece. Somehow, I know it. Don't you let them do it to anyone else unless there are manual controls from the ejection onwards. Don't do it. This isn't just nosing into the Slot, over the reef between the town and the island and letting go then, and beginning to sweat. This is much more, Harry. This is bloody frightening. Are the three minutes up yet? My stomach is crawling at the thought of you pushing that button and nothing happening. Listen, Bannister, you're not getting me down, so forget any assurances. I hope they never let you put anybody else up here like this. It's black again. We've swung away." Bannister looked at my eyes. "It's almost time," he said. Eight seconds later they pushed the button. Perhaps it would have been better if nothing happened then. But that part worked. They got him out of the parabolic curve and headed back down. They fired reverse rockets that slowed him. They threw him into a broad equatorial orbit and let him ride. It took over an hour to be sure he was in orbit. I admired them that, but began to hate them very much. They ascertained the orbit and began new cal...

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