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The Big Trip Up Yonder Paperback – December 10, 2009
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So begins Kurt Vonnegut's short story The Big Trip Up Yonder, a tale set in 2158 A.D. Gramps Ford and his rather large family are all cooped together in their rundown home at "Building 257 of Alden Village, New York City, Connecticut," and Gramps is regularly cutting members of his family who misbehave out of his last will and testament.
While he and his substantial family are watching their five-foot TV screen, Gramps Ford has issued his prophetic warning shot across the bow: "Silence!" cried Gramps. "Next one shoots off his big bazoo while the TV's on is gonna find hisself cut off without a dollar--" his voice suddenly softened and sweetened--"when they wave that checkered flag at the Indianapolis Speedway, and old Gramps gets ready for the Big Trip Up Yonder."
The drug called anti-gerasone had been discovered, a blend of dandelions and mud that halts the aging process, and it allows people to unnaturally control when death from old age occurs. As a result, America suffers from a severe case of over-population, which has led to shortages of many things we take for granted, including gasoline, metals, and most importantly, food. Gramps had already reached 70 when anti-gerasone had been invented, and had not aged a day in the 102 years that followed.
And Gramps has just written his grandson Lou out of his will, substituting Willy, Lou's father, substituting his son "as heir to the apartment, and the biggest plum of all, the double bed in the private bedroom."
One family member, Morty takes matters into his own hands and pours half of Gramps' anti-gerasone drug down the drain. Lou catches Morty and proceeds to fill the bottle up again. There's a series of unfortunate events, the bottle cracks and Gramps, believing Lou was trying to kill him, flees the home. Complete chaos ensues, and... you'll just have to read this short Kindle freebie to see what happens next.
Is this Vonnegut's best work? Absolutely not: in this reader's opinion, you'll have to read the author's Slaughterhouse Five to get that. But it's a good early work that actually dates back to the '50s, when it was originally published in the Galaxy science fiction magazine.
Seriously, always good to read anything by Mr Vonnegut.
As my English professor once remarked "He finds a way to tell you the truth".