"William E. Emba"
Gallun (rhymes with balloon) was a major contributor to science fiction
in the 1930s and 1940s, and a remarkable innovator. Among other things,
he wrote stories involving neutron stars and Dyson spheres and nuclear
war as early as 1936. "Old Faithful" has a mercury mirror telescope.
Perhaps more interesting than his sometimes prescient technology was his
sympathetic treatment of robots and aliens. Although Gallun continued
to publish science fiction until the mid-80s, he never pushed for nor
received any general recognition, and is mostly forgotten.
"Old Faithful" begins on Mars, where civilization has been slowly dying
for millennia. Martian 774, scientist and engineer has been informed that,
per the usual Martian custom, he has forty days left to live (for the sake
of the younger generation) and that his work, on two-way communication with
the third planet's denizens using giant flashing lights, is not relevant to
saving the Martian race. As a true Martian, he agrees with his fate, but
he is not happy with the end of his research and laboratory. Fortunately,
a rare comet is making a near pass of Mars then Earth, and 774 hitches a
There were two sequels, "The Son of Old Faithful" and "Child of the Stars".
involving 774's son 775.