‘Light Of Other Days’ by Bob Shaw
A couple go on holiday to Scotland to try and patch up their marriage which is in trouble due to an unwanted pregnancy. It is a mark of the story’s age that abortion is not even considered. Up in the Highlands they pass “farms” harvesting the view through slow glass which, as it sounds like, is glass which takes a long time for light to pass through, thus capturing the image of scenery.
This is one of the most famous SF stories ever written but I’m not really sure why. It was my first reading of the story and, although it is obvious that slow glass has struck a chord with lots of people, it is only five pages long and the sting in the tail isn’t sharp enough to pierce.
A contrary view is provided by Graham Sleight’s appreciation of the story as “restrained, perfectly constructed, and so devastatingly economical that moralising would be clangingly unnecessary”.
H&C mention a student of Samuel R Delany who mathematically proved that slow glass doesn’t work and paraphrase Delany as saying this doesn’t matter because it is “science fiction, not fact; if it did work, then the story would no longer be sf but merely literary realism”. I doubt Delany did say that because although I can guess what was really meant here H&C have mangled it so badly that it ends up saying something stupid and false. Not to mention that it shows all that talk of science in Hartwell’s introduction to be a load of old guff.