The punchlines of Arthur C. Clarke

The Other Side of the Sky is a 1958 collection of short-shorts by Arthur C. Clarke. Most of them, like the stories of O. Henry, end in "turns", or punchlines. I've given the punchlines here, in randomized order and without the story titles attached (so as not to spoil them).

  • Surov had been shot at pointblank range by his own creation.
  • But I'd have looked like such a fool, standing there on tiptoe with my arms wrapped around her knees.
  • And then, if they have the power, they will do what they consider necessary. The sun will put forth its strength and lick the faces of its children; and thereafter the planets will go their way once more as they were in the beginning — clean and bright ... and sterile.
  • But Hans didn't hear him. He had just seen the spaceship.
  • On a quarter-of-a-million-mile trip, I think you could call that a photo finish.
  • After all, it does seem a little odd that a flat and lifeless plain, broken by a single small mountain, should now be labeled on all the charts of the moon as Sherwood Forest.
  • But that, he realized, was a foolish thought: for none knew better than he that the Wall possessed no other side.
  • No one spoke for a long time. Then Prince Henry tore his gaze away from the blinding splendor beyond the port, looked at Captain Saunders, and smiled.
  • And if the ruling finally goes against us — well, there's always Mars.
  • If we have a ship standing by it will be easy to intercept the freighter the second time it comes around the sun — quite early in the spring of the year A. D. 15,682.
  • I shall remember you when I go over there to the flagship Starfire and say good-by to the grandson you never knew.
  • What was the need to give these people to the fire, that the symbol of their passing might shine above Bethlehem?
  • Yet I sometimes wonder. Would I have made a report, after all — had I know that Julie was going to marry someone else?
  • It will mean that you're being doubly safeguarded, at practically no extra expense.
  • And there wasn't a fourth day, of course.
  • Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.
  • But now, as a matter of principle, he can only drink beer — and he hates the stuff.
  • For Man had come and gone.
  • Breathing space didn't hurt me at all — but I got the worst dose of sunburn I've ever had in my life.
  • The grounds were extreme mental cruelty, and I suppose you could say it was justified.
  • And then, whistling cheerfully, he left the observation lounge in eight-foot strides to read the weather forecast for Lower Patagonia.
  • But, of course, it was now much too late to point this out.
  • He sat down on the edge of the pavement and began to think. There was no need to panic; he must take things calmly, without hysteria. After all, he had plenty of time.
       All the time in the world.
  • And which was better, who could say?

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