Beans and marbles

[ Read this in Dutch ]

short SF story

Two astronauts manning a cargo ship full of frozen colonists and their falling-out over a cup of espresso brewed in the most unlikely location on the ship.

Publication history

Reviews

The Fix reviewed Escape Pod, EP183:
Showing parallels with 2001: A Space Odyssey. […] A bit Twilight Zone in tone, but engaging.

The Internet Review of Science Fiction reviewed Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Issue 20:
Rather than review individual stories, I am going to review the magazines themselves, pointing to a few particularly interesting stories along the way. […] Immediately following this silly story, however, is Beans and Marbles by Floris M. Kleijne. It seems like a disagreement over how long someone occupies the toilet might be just another silly little thing, but when the toilet in question is on an interstellar voyage, and the disagreement is between the only two conscious members of the team, things are a little more serious. And when the narrator’s madness begins to reveal itself, what seems like a light-hearted tale turns very dark indeed.

Tangent Online, an award-winning short fiction review website, reviewed Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Issue 20:
Amusing. Yes, amusing is the world I’d use to describe the next story of the issue: Floris M. Kleijne’s “Beans and Marbles.” Now, why do I find the slow descent into madness of one of the two waking members of a long range colony ship amusing? Well, it’s all in how matter-of-fact and reasonable the tone is in comparison to what is really going on. Now, admittedly, it’s a rather dark thing to be amused by, but I’ve acknowledged many a time that my sense of humor has long since transcended dark and is hovering somewhere in the middle of inky. Still, I think it would be worth a read even for those whose senses of humor haven’t descended quite as far as mine.
Read the full review here.

AS If!, a new Australian science fiction review website, reviewed Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Issue 20:
“Beans and Marbles” by Dutch writer Floris M Kleijne goes down the mental illness path as well. Cryo-colony starship engineer John has gone bat-shit on the long-haul, and his single fellow crew member Richard is helpless to do anything about it. But where “Selena’s Seclusion” is a double-helix of a story with a series of subtle revelations building towards the ending, “Beans and Marbles” sole narrative ‘trick’ is that the story is told in first person from John’s POV. And he is in denial. That said, Kleijne has an easy and engaging style that includes nice touches like an espresso machine that needs to be in the centrifugal toilet to operate properly. So. A one-trick pony, but fun to ride, and therefore well suited to the collection.
Read the full review here.

HorrorScope, an Australian weblog, reviewed Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Issue 20:
… some of the richest and most fulfilling storytelling in the issue. […] Beans and Marbles rounds out the collection and tells the story of how far one person will go to get their morning coffee. One of the few true sci-fi tales in the collection it is also the only story set in space. The story’s strength lies in its building sense of paranoia and tension. The story is slow off the mark, mirroring the dull routines of its protagonists but kicks into gear about half way through. The ending is truly chilling.

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Beans and marbles

 

When Flight Control assigned us utility privileges, I don’t think they expected me to brew espresso in the centrifugal head. But the weight of the espresso machine was well within the parameters they’d set, as was my use of a couple of ounces of fresh water and a fraction of the ship’s power supply each day, so there was nothing, really, they could say or do about it. Privileges are privileges, and if the purpose was to give both of us something to keep us happy, it worked for me. My morning espresso ritual kept me sane. I looked forward to it every day.

Richard, however, wasn’t quite as tolerant as Flight Control.

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Beans and marbles
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