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When I was in college, in a small town, there was a radio station in town that would play old time radio shows. One night I heard one that has stuck in my mind ever since. While I have a lot of OTR (old time radio) shows in files, most files have air dates and series names, but not show titles, so I'm still working my way through them.

This story had a small family living in an apartment I think they called "The Nest." Earth was bitter cold by then, cold enough for oxygen to freeze. (I think that was because the Sun had gone out or, more likely, Earth had left its orbit.) This family didn't have anything fancy, no hermetically sealed walls or doors, just a LOT of blankets hung all over. Instead of space suits, they had home made suits they could use for a short while (I think - maybe they had space suits).

They survived by going out, periodically, and scooping up "snow crystals" of frozen oxygen and bringing a bucket full of oxygen like that back to the nest where they could thaw it by the fire (which they had to keep burning continuously for warmth).

I'm working my way through these OTR shows, but I haven't found it yet. It's also possible this was based on a short story, since a lot of the OTR shows were based on stories in print at the time.

Can anyone tell me the name of the story or who wrote it or anything else to identify it?

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No relation to the story you're looking for but there is a "buckets of air" scene in Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky. –  dmckee Jan 19 '12 at 3:37
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Now that this is answered, I found not only the Wikipedia description that told me this was it, but found a recording of the original show on the Internet Archive. For those interested, you can listen for free. Here's the link: archive.org/download/xminusoneotr/X_Minus_One-A_Pail_of_Air.mp3 –  Tango Jan 19 '12 at 3:54
    
related: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/2974/… –  David Cary Jan 8 '13 at 1:43
    
Thanks, @DavidCary! –  Tango Jan 8 '13 at 2:58
    
I think it was called "The Nest", not "The Next". –  Keith Thompson Mar 15 at 1:45
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up vote 12 down vote accepted

I know that the short story this was based on is "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Leiber. I'm not sure if the radio dramatization had the same title or not - I'll get back to you when Wikipedia isn't on protest. ;)

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Cool! Thanks! This story has haunted me and when I searched, I looked for "bucket" and "oxygen" instead of "pail" and "air," so I remembered something about the title - just not the exact words. –  Tango Jan 19 '12 at 3:45
    
:D Glad I could help! This story stuck with me too, it's a good one. –  abcooper Jan 19 '12 at 3:52
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See the comment on the question - I found a link to the actual OTR show when it was aired on "X Minus 1." –  Tango Jan 19 '12 at 3:55
    
I read this as a child, in the anthology Constellations, which I loved. If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy some of the other shorts in it. –  Owen Blacker Feb 2 '12 at 21:13
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