A travel agent offers an elderly woman a "trip to heaven"—and she winds up on Mars. She and the other travelers on the tour find a broken-down rocket on the planet’s surface, on which they will make the most shattering discovery of their lives.

A LITTLE JOURNEY (August 1951) marks Bradbury’s final contribution to the editorial decade of Horace Gold, the editor of GALAXY magazine. Like THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE FIREMAN, the story demonstrates Bradbury’s characteristic blending so early in his career of the sentimental and the transcendent, the homely and the mystical. Bradbury’s old women in space and their strange outcome are reminiscent of his more famous story KALEIDOSCOPE (published in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN) and its conclusion shows unusual if understated power. Bradbury’s THE FIREMAN (the short-form version of FAHRENHEIT 451 which was doubled in length for its book publication in 1953) appeared in the February 1951 issue of GALAXY and further solidified GALAXY’s reputation, as a magazine of unprecedented originality and ambition. Gold’s commitment to the highly ambitious THE FIREMAN was, then, courageous for its time and gave publicity to the editor’s insistence that GALAXY was an entirely new kind of science fiction magazine, one which was far more oriented toward style and controversial social extrapolation than the other markets ever had been. Although THE FIREMAN and THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES had been published earlier to significant attention, Bradbury in 1951 was by no means a writer of substantial reputation and his work was regarded by most science fiction editors and readers as marginal to the genre.

Author Description

Ray Douglas Bradbury (b. 1920) entered science fiction as a teenage Los Angeles fan frantic to sell John W. Campbell and become a major science fiction writer; although he eventually sold Campbell two very short stories in the early '40s, his career took a different direction, first through the second- and third-level science fiction magazines (PLANET, STARTLING STORIES) and then to the literary quarterlies and women's magazines (HARPER'S BAZAAR, CHARM) where his distinctive stylistic elegance led him to the Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prize anthologies. He was regarded with the somewhat similar lyrical short story writer Truman Capote as among the most promising of the emerging generation. With THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES he became famous both inside and outside science fiction; subsequent collections (THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, DANDELION WINE) advanced his reputation. He wrote the screenplay for John Huston's film adaptation of MOBY DICK (1953), and in the decades to follow hundreds of short stories and novels (A MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY), which cemented his reputation. He was awarded a Medal in Literature by George W. Bush in 2004.

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