The Singing Bell

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"The Singing Bell"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Series Wendell Urth
Genre(s) Science fiction mystery short story
Published in Fantasy and Science Fiction
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Fantasy House
Media type Print (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
Publication date January 1955
Followed by "The Talking Stone"

"The Singing Bell" is a science fiction mystery short story by Isaac Asimov that first appeared in the January 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and was reprinted in the 1968 collection Asimov's Mysteries. "The Singing Bell" was the first of Asimov's Wendell Urth stories.

Plot summary[edit]

Master criminal Louis Peyton spends each August totally isolated on his Colorado ranch behind a powerful force-field. One August, Albert Cornwall takes him to the Moon to retrieve a cache of extremely valuable singing bells (lunar rocks which, when struck by the correct stroker, make an incredibly beautiful sound) which Cornwall had obtained by killing their discoverer. Louis Peyton kills Cornwall and hides the bells.

The police contact Wendell Urth to help them prove that Peyton had been on the Moon, so they can psycho-probe him to get sufficient evidence for a conviction. However, since a person can only be psycho-probed once in a lifetime, the police want to be certain that Peyton is guilty.

Urth gives Peyton his own flawed, yet still valuable singing bell to examine. He then has Peyton throw it back to him. The toss falls short and the bell is destroyed when it crashes to the floor. Urth has demonstrated that Peyton had been off-planet very recently, despite his claim to the contrary, and had not yet readjusted to Earth's gravity. The killer is taken away to be psycho-probed. Urth requests a perfect bell as his fee.