Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eric Frank Russell's "Bitter End" (short story, man-hunt): Predicament of the crew of first successful Mars round-trip

An illustration accompanying the original publication inn Science-Fiction Plus magazine of short story Bitter End by Eric Frank Russell
James Vail & Richard Kingston took off Luna City for Mars - first manned mission to red world. Contact will be lost with earth & moon, they won't return back at appointed time or weeks afterward, & will be presumed lost.

Only, they're'nt lost. Their ship had developed a snag on Mars, & took a while to fix. The delay created an unusual emergency - one that resulted in the ship returning to earth with Vail alone. And Vail will abandon the ship after landing it in a place it will be easily found, but doesn't want to show back his own face.

Why does the first successful Mars round-trip survivor want to go hide somewhere in anonymity? Ancient plot, very well done - reads like a thriller.

Fact sheet.

First published: Science-Fiction Plus, December 1953.
Rating: A.
Related: Stories of Eric Frank Russell (annotated & ranked list).