Home

Early on an astronaut in a bar is asked: “What’s it like to fly to Mars on a rocket?”

His answer: “There’s six men, see? In a space the size of a Buick, and that’s all the room there is. Two of us in the bunks all the time, four of us on watch…”

In fact, the only way for them to last the two year journey is for psychological conditioning to make it impossible for them to kill each other; because after a few weeks of confinement there’s nothing else they dream about. So the astronaut is sitting in this bar, and occasionally someone nearby will sneeze just like one of his crewmates did, or will laugh in just the right way, and it’s all the astronaut can do to stop himself from taking his urge to kill his crewmates on their proxies…

A wonderfully excruciating story that makes the reader feel what the astronaut’s going through, as well as being a not implausible exploration for how the crew of such long journeys could psychologically survive.

The Hated by Frederik Pohl

Availability: free online

Word count: 4,100

First published: Galaxy, Jan 1958

Where to find it: It’s on Gutenberg here, and an audio recording on Librivox here.

For print, your best bet is The Best of Frederik Pohl, collection, 1975, Ballantine

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The Hated by Frederik Pohl

  1. “Early on an astronaut in a bar is asked: “What’s it like to fly to Mars on a rocket?”

    His answer: “There’s six men, see? In a space the size of a Buick, and that’s all the room there is. Two of us in the bunks all the time, four of us on watch…”

    In fact, the only way for them to last the two year journey is for psychological conditioning to make it impossible for them to kill each other; because after a few weeks of confinement there’s nothing else they dream about.”

    This is such a gorgeous piece of writing – it works for me as a piece of micro-fiction just like this. Might well go and check out the longer work!

    • Yes, Frederik Pohl’s written a lot of wonderfully high concept stories, which I’ll have to talk about at a later date. And his ‘The Space Merchants’ is one of my favorite SF novels of the 20th century.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s