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Peyton Manning's French Bread Olympics - Science Fiction Style

Perhaps you've seen this imaginative promo for the 2024 Olympics in Paris; Peyton Manning and the baguette airship:

How does it fly? Is there any idea that science fiction authors have not explored? In his zany 1958 short story Bread Overhead!, sf author Fritz Leiber describes an unlikely scenario involving the walking mills of Puffy Products:

As a blisteringly hot but guaranteed weather-controlled future summer day dawned on the Mississippi Valley, the walking mills of Puffy Products ("Spike to Loaf in One Operation!") began to tread delicately on their centipede legs across the wheat fields of Kansas.

The walking mills resembled fat metal serpents, rather larger than those Chinese paper dragons animated by files of men in procession. Sensory robot devices in their noses informed them that the waiting wheat had reached ripe perfection.

As they advanced, their heads swung lazily from side to side, very much like snakes, gobbling the yellow grain. In their throats, it was threshed, the chaff bundled and burped aside for pickup by the crawl trucks of a chemical corporation, the kernels quick-dried and blown along into the mighty chests of the machines. There the tireless mills ground the kernels to flour, which was instantly sifted, the bran packaged and dropped like the chaff for pickup.


(Walking Mill from Bread Overhead!)

A cluster of tanks which gave the metal serpents a decidedly humpbacked appearance added water, shortening, salt and other ingredients... The dough was at the same time with gas...

Thus instantly risen, the dough was clipped into loaves and shot into radiance ovens forming the midsections of the metal serpents. There the bread was baked in a matter of seconds, a fierce heat-front browning the crusts...

But now, behold a wonder! As loaves began to appear on the delivery platform of the first walking mill to get into action, they did not linger on the conveyor belt, but rose gently into the air and slowly traveled off downwind across the hot rippling fields...

"This is a historic occasion in Old Puffy’s long history, the inauguration of the helium-filled loaf (‘So Light It Almost Floats Away!’) in which that inert and heaven-aspiring gas replaces oldfashioned carbon dioxide. Later, there will be kudos for Rose Thinker, whose bright relays geniussparked the idea, and also for Roger Snedden, who took care of the details.

“By the by, Racehorse, that was a brilliant piece of work getting the helium out of the government — they’ve been pretty stuffy lately about their monopoly.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/5/2023)

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