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Friday, August 05, 2016

I must have been about 12 or so when I can across a couple of big stacks of old Popular Science magazines that somebody had put out by the curb. They were probably from the late 50's and early 60's, and they were damn near as good as science fiction. A regular feature was a series of short stories about a small town mechanic named Gus Wilson. In each installment Gus would interact with a local character (the town miser frequently showed up) who had a mysterious car problem. Gus would ponder the situation, ask a few obscure questions, then diagnose and fix the issue. It was Car Talk basically, and I hadn't thought about it in years, but I just now did, and discovered that somebody has lovingly scanned them all, going back to 1925 and put them on the web. They are as good as I remember -- the clues needed to solve the puzzle are cleverly and subtly worked into the narrative, and the ending is always a twist. Having grown up with these stories I suppose I should know more than I do about car repair (functionally I know nothing about car repair whatsoever). I guess I just picked up on how narrative is structured instead. In any event, these are well worth dipping into

| Comments:
I remember when he figured out somebody's car had a blocked fuel line, when he was drinking a thick shake through a paper straw, and it kept flattening out.
 
The tech in these is hilariously low. Today he'd say, "The computer is on the fritz. That'll be $2000 bucks."
 

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