I read a short story sometime in the late '80s.

It was about a group of people walking along a tube that had doorways leading to different worlds or realities.

The main focus was on the dynamic of the walkers though. They sang a song about walking up the tube as they went, this was a running theme throughout the story.

I would love to know who the author was.


This is Mandalay by John M. Ford - if you read it the late '80s, you may have read it in the anthology Isaac Asimov's Worlds of Science Fiction. Some other plot details that may jog your memory:

  • The curvature of the tube appeared to be circular, but if the walkers travelled through what appeared to be a full 360 degrees, they weren't back where they were before - the tube was infinitely long.
  • There were colour coded boxes attached to the wall of the tube - one colour of box contained rations, and by agreement the walkers only consumed half of them, in case they decided to backtrack. Another colour of box contained something dangerously radioactive (described as "actinic light") that killed the walker who opened it.
  • The tube and the worlds behind the doorways were holiday destinations operated by a tour company, but something had gone horribly wrong, thus the walkers were unable to return home.
  • The conversations among the walkers implied that although they would ideally like to return to their original world, they would settle for one that was "close enough".
  • Thank you! That was driving me crazy! Funny how some stories stick in your head... – deMangler Oct 16 at 16:19

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.