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Monday, June 23, 2014

THE BIG TRIP UP YONDER by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Originally published in 1954 by the magazine Galaxy Science Fiction, Kurt Vonnegut's short story The Big Trip Up Yonder is set in the year 2185 in a time in which old age has been defeated. The main character is Gramps Ford, a man that was 70 when anti-gerasone, the cure to aging was created. He has been 70 years old for 102 years. He is grumpy, vindictive and generally unpleasant - much like you would expect for a man that has has been 70 years old for 102 years.

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007
Galaxy Science Fiction was designed to be thoughtful science fiction rather than laser guns and explosions driven science fiction and Vonnegut's style fits the bill perfectly. He looks at what would happen in a world with no death. It becomes crowded - so crowded that privacy is a rarity and people are forced to live cheek-by-jowl with their families in hallways, living rooms and the like.

If you have ever seen a movie or a TV show in which greedy family members are waiting around the family manor for the eldest family member (who changes the will frequently) to die you will immediately understand the premise of this short story. But, Gramps can't die because he never ages. Until, that is, when he disappears one day...

This is early Vonnegut but his angry whit and sarcastic view of human nature shine through. While mostly filled with a bitter tone, the last two pages save the story and make it end with a funny, almost upbeat tone. Also, like Vonnegut, I am a native Hoosier and I always note his references to his home state of Indiana. In this case, the Indy 500 is referred to twice, although it has now become the Indy 5,000.

This short story was re-printed as a single short story paperback by Aegypan Press. 

I rate this short story 4 stars out of 5.

This short short can be found on Amazon.com here: The Big Trip Up Yonder.

Reviewed on June 23, 2014.

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