Mars, phones, and an old man
November 20, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find this short story about an almost abandoned Mars, an old man, and taunting from the phone system.

More than twenty years ago I read a short story which I would like to find.

In the story, Mars has been colonized. All the colonists are now gone except for one. This one remaining person is now an old man.

When he was younger he somehow made it so an automated process would call him through the phone system using recordings or some sort of AI (I don't recall). So essentially his younger self is calling and tormenting him.

He spends his days trying to hunt down the box which is making the calls, but he can't remember where he left it, so he wanders from deserted town to deserted town on Mars.

I think it may be a Bradbury story, but I couldn't find it in the Martian Chronicles.

Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by DrumsIntheDeep to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bradbury's "Night Call, Collect" is described here: "The lone survivor of a rocket crew on Mars has waited his lifetime to be rescued and taken back to Earth. Then one day when is is 80 years old, his telephone rings!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:35 AM on November 20, 2010

P.S. It appeared in "I Sing the Body Electric". Amazon's description of the story: ""Night Call, Collect" - When Mars was evacuated at the beginning of the war, Emil Barton was left behind in one of the Martian cities, alone. He recorded messages and set up the computers to call him at random, so he could hear a human voice. But at eighty, messages left by twenty-year-olds can be hard to take."
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:40 AM on November 20, 2010

Good call, MonkeyToes. If it's helpful, here's a Google Books link to the story. There are two pages missing in the middle, but they have most of it. I hadn't come across this one -- good stuff.
posted by jhc at 10:54 AM on November 20, 2010

Awesome, the correct answer in under 30 minutes!

I've been wondering how to find this story for years.

Thank you MonkeyToes for the answer, and jhc for the Google books link!
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 12:04 PM on November 20, 2010

A audio play version of the story is part of the Bradbury 13 series. Well worth a listen to.
posted by Hactar at 1:13 PM on November 20, 2010

Aaaand it's Hactar for the win: Bradbury 13., for sale, downloadable.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:17 PM on November 21, 2010

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