13

This is a classic, and I'm actually embarrassed not to be remembering the name. It's a Cold War era (probably late 1950s to 1960s) story and set in a future where the Cold War has continued into space.

The setting is a U.S. lunar base where, in the aftermath of a battle between U.S. and Soviet soldiers, there is a cloud of bullets in (very) low lunar orbit. (Note this likely fixes the latest date for the story in the mid-1960s, since it was discovered before the Apollo missions that the lunar gravity field was lumpy enough to make most low lunar orbits unstable.) As a result the U.S. base (and presumably the Soviet one as well) are subject to repeated, periodic bombardment by the many bullets fired in the battle that didn't immediately hit anything.

It's possible there are actually 2 clouds, since the U.S. soldiers and the Soviets would have been firing in opposite directions.

5
  • I'm sure this has been asked here before. As soon as I read your question bells started ringing. But I must admit a quick search has not found anything here. Oct 8 at 19:21
  • 3
    Aha, yes, it's Men of Good Will by Ben Bova, mentioned here. I initially couldn't find it because it was suggested in a comment not in an answer. Oct 8 at 19:25
  • @JohnRennie Ah, that's it. Tweaking my search to find that answer, I needed to not use any of "lunar," "base," "u.s.," "american," or "soviet" in my search terms. Do you want to write up an answer? (There aren't any existing questions for this, so it's not a duplicate.)
    – DavidW
    Oct 8 at 19:34
  • I'm away from my library atm but i can post a detailed answer tomorrow morning. I have a copy of the story somewhere in my collection as I remember reading it. Oct 8 at 19:43
  • Sort of the reverse of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
    – Spencer
    Oct 8 at 22:22
12

As per comments in Short story about an astronaut being shot by his own bullet, Ben Bova's "Men of Good Will", readable on the Internet Archive here.

In the near future, the Cold War has spread to near-Earth space, occasionally sparking into moments of heat. For some reason, however, the Moon seems to be a zone of armistice. The Norwegian UN ambassador heads to the Earth’s companion to find out the secret.

The secret (read no further if you wish to remain unspoilt): The Yanks and the Ruskies did shoot it out — once. Those bullets achieved orbital velocity, and every 27 days, their orbit intersects with the bases, peppering them with new holes. It’s simply too dangerous to keep up the fight.

7
  • 1
    Just move the base?
    – Peter M
    Oct 8 at 21:18
  • 3
    @Peter M: Even easier... they plan on building a wall to stop the bullets so that they can launch a counterattack. Bova, much like most writers of the era, didn't have much faith in human nature and lasting peave.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 8 at 22:09
  • 1
    It would have been nice to get a chance to write my answer. Oct 9 at 9:03
  • Sorry. I didn't see your comment until after I wrote my answer.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 9 at 12:07
  • And, through the magic of Stack Exchange "Related" questions, I see where I discussed finding it in the comments at scifi.stackexchange.com/a/100638/23243
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 9 at 12:45

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.