Feathered Friend by Arthur C. Clarke

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Summary: Feathered Friend by Arthur C. Clarke is a science fiction short story about a small canary and how her existence on the space station helped save lives


Sven Olsen - At first thought as a Six foot Six inch Nordic construction worker in space BUT really a "wiry little fellow"

Claribel - "Small yellow canary"

Narrator - A worker on the space station

Jock Duncan - The cook, doctor and dietitian on the space station

Section 1:

  • The narrator says that he is unaware of a regulation that prevents pets from being on a space station and that Sven would ignore it anyway
  • Sven was the best space construction worker on the space station at the time and was a "wiry little fellow" which got him a bonus for being under 150 pounds
  • Unlike his Earth bound counterpart, Sven could step back and look at his work without fear of falling off the building
  • Sven was smart to have Claribel as a pet because it took close to nothing to support her
  • The author found Claribel after hitting his head on an "angle beam", he saw Claribel for the first time although he had been hearing her
  • Claribel, the canary, found out how to make her way in zero gravity and was efficient at it
  • Sven did not own up to her being his pet at first but did bring her up from a ferry from Earth after leave
  • Sven then said that he had brought her from Earth as a science experiment
  • They didn't have any trouble hiding her from VIPs from Earth as they always had explanation for the noises that she made even when Claribel was "upset"
  • The narrator woke up one day with a headache and was slow to do morning activities
  • Sven was missing from breakfast because he was looking for Claribel
  • Claribel was found in a stunned state and Jock Duncan could not hear a heartbeat
  • Someone said to give her some oxygen from an oxygen face mask which served as an oxygen tent for Claribel
  • The oxygen revived Claribel and she called everyone to breakfast but passed out again
  • The narrator notices that Claribel was passing out because of the air being bad; an air purifer had frozen and the single, 500 thousand dollar alarm "failed to go off"
  • Claribel had saved everyone's lives
  • The narrator says if one is ever on a space station to not be "surprised" or "alarmed" if there was birdsong recognized for the bird is only there as a cheap backup alarm system

Other Notes:

  • This story may be a story about the weak being strong and the least expensive being the most valuable; Sven probably would not be a construction worker on Earth and Claribel was overlooked as a possible alarm system because of her cost being so cheap
  • Arthur C. Clarke is well known for science fiction stories
  • In the story, Claribel is an invaluable alarm system, but something else that the story brings out is how Claribel was a boost in morale for the space station and became the "general pet"

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