Looking for a short story or possibly a novella. I remember it was in a book with a lot of other stories. It takes place in an asteroid belt. Mother, a just grown son and some younger kids live in a “home” that is like a big barrel. The asteroid belt is like the mining towns in the late 1800s. Son wants to leave home to work in mining the asteroids and see the “Big City”. Mom wants him to stay home and warns him about the “Gambling Hells”, loose women, and crooks. He goes anyway.

Later he comes back home for a visit and to introduce his mom to his Fiance/bride(?) that he stole/purchased from one of the Gambling Hells. Mom thinks she's really a nice girl so when her boss/owner shows up to take her back, Mom used some tricks she has learned over the years to run the boss off. I think she spins the house and uses the spin to spray syrup(?) all over the boss' ship, gumming up everything.

The only other thing that sticks in my mind is they keep piglets in the house and one of their entertainments is watching the piglets run in a circle around the inside of the barrel house, the centrifugal force caused by their running keeping them pressed against the wall as long as they keep running.

Not sure but I think “Gambling Hells” might be in the title. This ring a bell with anyone?


1 Answer 1


A comment by User14111 led me to The Gambling Hell and the Sinful Girl by Katherine MacLean.

Ma's warning

Ma always swore she’d never let any son of hers work at the Belt Foundry, not with those rowdy drinking men and their sinful shows in their recreation lounge, and their trips to the Gambling Hells on the Moon. She said they were bad company for a Christian. But then she tripped over Abe’s legs while she was carrying a pot of stew to the table.

Piglets in a barrel

Abe crawled through the tunnel and stuck his head out opposite us. But there was no room on the net. The girl was staring around at a circle of faces. Everyone in the barrelhouse, including the pigs, was in a circle at the bottom of the net standing around her in all directions looking up, like spokes in a wheel.

Syrup weaponry

Behind me Ma was saying, “Don’t use the lasers. Those men probably have reflector shields. Just launch cargo. Who’s the best aim with the syrup?”


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