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Safe at Any Speed

Short story first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 1967. Later published in collection The Shape of Space (1969), Tales of Known Space (1975) and Three Books of Known Space (1996).

Narrator is on "Margrave, a world in the first stages of colonization". He is a taking a 2 hour trip by an air car, on autopilot with preprogrammed route. Part way through the flight, the machine & its human occupant is eaten by a local flying monster called "roc"! This eating process has destroyed external communication devices but not life support in the car.

The beast is less powerful than car. Can neither digest it, nor take it anywhere. Instead ends up going where the machine is going! Because external sensor devices are dead, they have an accident - hit some kind of a hill.

For 6 months, the man will live inside the car inside the beast's stomach (car apparently can synthesize food). Will eventually emerge when animal's flesh has sufficiently degenerated, & call for help using flares.

In a settlement with "General Transportation" (the car maker), he will actually get compensation for his pains. Because car makers had not accounted for the fact that car could be eaten by a beast!

Links: Wikipedia, Variety SF,



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