22

Fairly certain I read this story on paper, possibly in a science fiction anthology. Probably read it no earlier than 12 years ago, and it was probably either something written in the '90s or later, or something by a Golden Age author like Heinlein, Asimov, or Clarke.

The plot is roughly as follows:

A moon landing mission involves a new astronaut who has not been to the moon before. He is accompanied by a veteran of a previous landing mission. The veteran proceeds to introduce him to a secret known only to astronauts: that there is a small house with a lawn and a white picket fence on the moon. An old couple lives there with a dog. They visit the house, and it is somehow in some sort of bubble of existence with normal Earth properties -- air, gravity, etc. As I recall, this "bubble" is not visible to the naked eye -- it just begins/ends outside the fence.

The couple is always kind to visiting astronauts, and greets them as friends. When the veteran astronaut is momentarily alone with the new astronaut, he quietly mentions that previous astronauts visiting the couple even managed to surreptitiously obtain some of the dog's feces to test them, and they appeared to be normal canine feces. He explains that no one has yet figured out how the house has come to be on the moon, or how the people manage to survive there.

The astronauts visit for a while and then leave. I believe they take pains not to point out the impossibility of the situation, out of politeness. If I recall correctly, it is feared that confrontation with the couple could cause them to leave or disappear, which would prevent scientists from ever figuring out how they got there.

I believe that later, the new astronaut hears that the house has disappeared. It might be because the couple was inadvertently offended by a visitor, or because the husband decided that "the neighborhood was getting too crowded" -- I cannot recall. It is intimated that the house with the couple living in it still exists on the moon, just moved to a different spot, where they await to be rediscovered and visited by lunar explorers in the future.

  • 2
    How long ago did you read it? – user14111 Jan 14 '14 at 0:33
  • 1
    Sounds vaguely like "Mars is Heaven" by Bradbury – Oldcat Jan 14 '14 at 1:52
  • @user14111: I edited the question with a possible timeframe of authorship. – Wingman4l7 Jan 14 '14 at 4:57
  • @Oldcat: Nope -- read the summary on the Wikipedia article for that story, definitely not it. – Wingman4l7 Jan 14 '14 at 4:58
12

I think this must be "Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl's" by Adam-Troy Castro (a review).

This review provides more details:

Destination turns out to be something that cannot exist! A very small-town American house on the lunar surface, not covered by any kind of dome or artificial structure, & inhabited by old couple Minne & Earl, & their dog Miles! House occupies an apparently rectangular surface area of several acres, & is bounded by an ordinary looking fence. Outside the fence, you have a harsh airless moon. Inside the fence, you have a very terrestrial environment - lawn, breathable air, birds, ...! If there is a barrier separating this inside from outside, it's completely invisible & imperceptible!

Later in the story, we will learn that the old couple like to entertain human workers on moon, & "have been here since at least Apollo; those photos of them with Armstrong and Aldrin are genuine". They are very friendly, but any questions about their magical habitats or their identity always draws a blank.

Governments on earth have known about them. Visitors to the home have come back with samples of many things, including food & hair samples of hosts; tests back home never find anything out of what would be ordinarily human! Also, their estate is invisible to telescopes on earth! "They haven’t noticeably aged, not even the dog." Also, "they do understand every language we’ve sprung on them, but they give all their answers in Midwestern-American English."

....

Second intermingled thread when Max is 90 is of his quest to locate Minnie & Earl. He had lost touch in intervening years, & now no one on moon remembers them - except a few old timers who have also been out of touch. Eventually, a rather lame theory is presented: they have left because humans are now developing moon, & it no longer is pristine. And that they didn't say good bye because they felt neglected!

  • That is definitely it; it's even better than I remember! Thank you so much! I must have read it in the Nebula Awards Showcase 2004 collection. FWIW, I found a copy of it here, in a collection of the 2002 Nebula Award nominees: dcc.vu/Media/E-Books/Nebula%20Awards/… – Wingman4l7 Feb 9 '14 at 17:56
  • The story was recently reprinted in "The Eagle has Landed", a collection of 50 years of lunar tales. – Emsley Wyatt Sep 11 at 20:17

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