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I remember reading this story before I was in high school, so it must have been written before 1972. It was about a house having windows made of a special kind of glass with such a high index of refraction that it took on the order of a century for light to pass through it. Visitors to the house "witness" a murder that took place many years ago by looking in or out the windows. That's all I can remember, but I was struck by the idea and would like to track down the exact reference. The title or text may have contained a reference to "slow light".

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    What a fantastic story idea. I'm going to buy the book.
    – Neil
    Oct 12, 2023 at 8:41
  • Terry Pratchett's discworld also famously features slow light. However, it's faster than in the story you are looking for.
    – barfuin
    Oct 25, 2023 at 20:04

2 Answers 2

38

It could be Light of Other Days by Bob Shaw (1966)

Plot

The narrator is touring northwest Scotland with his wife Selina. Their relationship is in trouble, and news of her pregnancy has made it worse. Their holiday, intended to improve the situation, has not been a success. Travelling through a remote area, they find a place that sells panes of slow glass. This is glass that light takes a long time to pass through, even years, so that a pane of this glass shows a scene from the past. People buy slow glass that has been placed in picturesque scenery so that later they can enjoy the view in their homes or workplaces. The best quality slow glass is priced by its "thickness", corresponding to the number of years of scenic view contained within it. The narrator thinks that an extravagant idea like buying slow glass might set right his relationship with Selina.

Leaving the car, they walk along a path, where they see panes of slow glass facing a view of a loch. They meet Mr Hagan, who is sitting on a low wall in front of his stone farmhouse and looking towards the house. Inside, through the window, they see a young woman, presumably Mrs Hagan, and a small boy. Hagan fetches a rug from the house so that Selina can sit on a wall. The narrator, sensing that Mrs Hagan, looking towards them from inside, is not aware of them, wonders if she is blind; Selina remarks that her dress is out of fashion.

The narrator discusses with Hagan the price of his slow glass. Hagan says how fine the view is from there; as he talks, the narrator, still looking at the house, wonders if the small boy is blind as well. Eventually, although Selina is not impressed, the narrator decides to buy. While Hagan is fetching the glass, rain begins, so Selina goes to the house to return the rug. When the door is opened, the interior is seen to be disordered and squalid; Hagan is living alone. The family scene of wife and child was of years ago, seen through slow glass. As the couple leaves with their purchase, Hagan sorrowfully tells them his wife and child were killed in a road accident six years previously.

The narrator, walking with his wife back along the path, feels their relationship is somehow strengthened. He looks back at Hagan, who is sitting at his usual place, looking towards the house.

Full story

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    It's been asked about a few times here. Here's one of them scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/258445/… Oct 9, 2023 at 21:12
  • @OrganicMarble seems that TS asked for a story, and "Other days, other eyes" is a novel, based on this story. Oct 9, 2023 at 21:49
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    Other Days, Other Eyes is actually a fix-up consisting of all the slow glass stories and other material. Chapter 2 is "Light of Other Days". Oct 9, 2023 at 22:13
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It’s definitely one of Bob Shaw”s “slow glass” stories and I suspect the specific story you’re after is “Burden of Proof” (first published in Analog in May 1967), but I don’t have any sources to hand with which to verify that.

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    It could well be: "Ever since slow glass appeared in several fashionable stores, people have wondered: what would happen if a crime was committed in front of it?" See full text: koapp-narod-ru.translate.goog/hudlit/sfiction/… Oct 10, 2023 at 17:07
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    "Burden of Proof" is about a judge waiting for confirmation of a verdict by something that finally shows up in a slow glass window. It's in Other Days, Other Eyes chapter 4. Oct 10, 2023 at 17:08

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