Old-fashioned (short story)

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Astro Minor from "Old Fashion."
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in Bell Telephone Magazine
Publisher American Telephone and Telegraph Company
Media type Magazine
Publication date February 1976

"Old-fashioned" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. The story was written at the request of Kim Armstrong, editor of Bell Telephone Magazine, with the stipulation that it be 3,000 words and center on a problem in communications.[1] The author claimed that he had thought up a plotline before lunch while the editor was over.[1] The story was duly written and published in February 1976. It was illustrated by Gerald McConnell [1] in comic book style.

Plot summary[edit]

Two astro-miners in the asteroid belt, Estes and Funarelli, are badly injured when their spaceship is damaged by the tidal effects of an uncharted black hole. Their drive and communications systems are beyond repair and they have a finite supply of food and air.

In desperation, Estes hits on the idea of going outside the ship and throwing small rocks at the black hole. This will generate bursts of x-rays which, he hopes, will be detected by radio-astronomers on Earth.

He does this several times, attempting to time the bursts so that they spell out S-O-S in Morse code. The attempt works and within days, an unmanned drone ship with supplies arrives from Earth.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Asimov, Isaac: The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories, page 180. Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1976.