My mother (early 70s) only remembers that the story's main character was a judge (human, on Earth) who'd recently retired and apparently had a reputation for being a fair judge and honest person. During the story he's approached to learn intergalactic law and be a judge for intergalatic cases.

The only bit my mother remembers is that the story ended with him getting his notepad and pen out and opening the first volume in what I'm guessing is meant to be a codex of intergalactic law.

I'd love to find this story for her to read again and I'm attempting ALL the Google searches, but if anyone's heard of this, please let me know!

1 Answer 1


This sounds rather like New Folks' Home, a short story by Clifford Simak that was first published in Analog in July 1963.

The central character is Frederick Gray, a recently retired law professor. According to the cover blurb of the Simak anthology New Folks' Home: And Other Stories:

Frederick Gray is closing in on seventy and has outlived his usefulness as a professor of law. He has no family; his best friend, fellow faculty member Ben Lovell, has recently died. Before Gray moves into a retirement home, he takes a final canoe trip to a favorite fishing spot he and Lovell had visited many times, only to find that someone has built a house on the remote riverside. When an accident leaves Gray stranded and in pain, he returns to the shelter seeking aid and instead finds a new reason for living.

The "new reason" for living is to "provide certain little services", that is, to act as a consultant on questions of interstellar law. The mysterious house that has appeared has been provided for his use by the extraterrestrials. The story concludes with the lines:

Picking up the file, he went into the study and laid it on the desk. He pulled out a drawer and took out pad and pencils and ranged them neatly, close at hand.

He sat down and entered upon the practice of interstellar law.

The story can be read in the Analog issue held by the Luminist archive.

  • 1
    The blurb might be slightly inaccurate. Ben Lovell is not actually dead yet in the Analog version of the story, but is in the hospital with no chance of recovery. Then again, it's possible that the author edited the story later for republication.
    – MJ713
    May 12, 2023 at 14:11
  • @MJ713 Yes you're right, the blurb is inaccurate. In the anthology version Ben is also slowly dying in hospital. May 12, 2023 at 14:16

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