12

I am trying to find the name of a story I remember reading in an anthology some 50 years ago about a wealthy industrialist who wanted nothing more than to be buried on Earth. I believe this to be a short story in a collection of memorable short stories I had when I lived at home in the late 60's early 70's.

In the story people lived and worked on other worlds and Earth had been turned into a world-wide cemetery as it's best and highest use. People were conditioned to want nothing more than for their remains to come to back to Earth, but it was very expensive. The sales people for Earth burial were expert at extracting the last dollar from people so that their remains could brought to earth. There were different levels of burial with different prices - with actual burial being most expensive option.

Being wealthy they were trying to extract the most money from this businessman - but it would have left his family nothing. At their last meeting with him to negotiate the cost of his burial he watches the grounds keeping crew tending to the landscaping. He suddenly changes his mind about the burial. They knew they had hooked him. But he walks away smiling leaving them mystified and sure they missed something. What they hadn't noticed, and what the businessman had, was that one of his companies manufactured the fertilizer they were using. We were left to understand that he would have his cremated remains added to the fertilizer to be spread on Earth - and he would have his ashes scattered on Earth after all, and at no cost to him. He wins.

I thought I saw this as a Twilight Zone episode but I couldn't find it there. Google searches keep turning up other books or stories.

No, it isn't Clifford Simak's Cemetery World.

  • 3
    Hi there! :) that's already some info - could you look at this guide on how to ask a good story-ID question, see if that triggers any more memories you could edit into your post? For instance, do you remember what the cover looked like? Was it written in English, was it a translation? Things like that to increase the chances of a successful identification. Cheers! – Jenayah Aug 13 '18 at 15:31
  • 1
    I can't remember the cover. I believe this to be a short story in a collection of memorable short stories I had when I lived at home in the late 60's early 70's. – Marie G Aug 13 '18 at 15:41
  • 1
    The earth had been turned into a world-wide cemetery. There were different levels of burial with different prices.Being wealthy they were trying to extract the most money from him - but it would have left his family nothing. One his products was fertilizer. He sees the grounds keeping crew using the fertilizer and he suddenly changes his mind about the burial. Mystifying the sales people. They knew they hooked him. They didn't see the fertilizer connection but we were left to understand that he would have his cremated remains added to the fertilizer to be spread on earth - at no cost to him. – Marie G Aug 13 '18 at 15:49
  • 1
    Well that's good additional info :) I suggest you edit it into your post; feel free to add any more memories you could think of! – Jenayah Aug 13 '18 at 15:52
  • 1
    I remember this story, and my mind wants to credit Robert Heinlein, but I can't find anything in his short story list that matches. – Zeiss Ikon Aug 13 '18 at 16:22
5

Nor Dust Corrupt by James V. McConnell

From review on goodreads.com:

Long after humanity has spread through the galaxy, men create, and capitalize upon, the longing people have to be posthumously buried on Earth soil. These men charge gajillions for it because space is limited. A cool concept, but I wasn't quite convinced people would care so much about where they are buried, and the 'gotcha' ending (a wealthy man who wishes to be buried on Earth turns out to own the company that provides fertilizer for the graveyard gardens) was too shallow for such a weighty theme.

  • Full text (nice scan!) available at the Internet Archive: archive.org/details/1957-02_IF/page/n55 The intro text says "Burial on Earth was the dream of every person in the galaxy. And Krieg was certainly rich enough to buy his way in. Valhalla was his. But he changed his mind..." – DavidW Apr 29 at 23:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.