Science Fiction History: 1947 Robert A. Heinlein and The Green Hills of Earth
About the 1947 sci-fi novel The Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein.
--1947. In The Green Hills of Earth, Robert A. Heinlein combined technology, tragedy, and romance, and created a future folklore. Rhysling, the Blind Singer of the Spaceways, and not yet blind, was jetman of the Goshawk ("the 1st [spaceship]... to be converted from chemical fuel to atomic power-piles . . . that did not blow up"), bound for the Jovian asteroids, as the story began. It was on this voyage that he was blinded by defective cadmium dampers in the power room: Come hell or high power, Rhysling always stuck to his post. For the rest of his life, as he moved between Luna City, Marsopolis, and Venusburg, he was a sightless deadhead, freeloading around space, singing for his suppers. On the voyage which was to return him, after so long, to the earth he could not see, another emergency exploded: A radioactive blast killed Archie Macdougal (the chief jetman) as he jawed with Rhysling in the power room and the lights went out--but blind Rhysling needed no lights to fix the breakdown and save the ship. Dying, he sang the title song of the story: "We pray for one last landing/On the globe that gave us birth;/Let us rest our eyes on fleecy skies/And the cool, green hills of earth."