There’s a lot going on in this story, and it a lot of ways it reminds me of the Series 8 finale of Doctor Who. It starts out simply enough, with an expedition to Mars. But upon landing the men discover a town that seems to have been around for a few decades, but hasn’t advanced beyond the late 1920’s. They postulate different ideas about how this could possibly be.
After some exploration, however, it seems that the Mars colony is not a colony so much as a sort of afterlife.
Plot-wise I’ve already said too much, so I’ll leave it at that. As far as the actual story goes, it’s quite a well written bit of mystery. I don’t mean that in the sense of the genre, because it’s clearly science fiction. But I mean that there is a mystery at the heart of the plot, and it’s well written, and not at all given away until the end.
As far as space stories go, it’s less than stellar (no pun intended). Because the Mars colony is basically a carbon copy of an Earth town, it reads much more like a story set on Earth than one set in space. Sure, there’s a spaceship, and talk of atmosphere and such. But nothing ever feels truly alien.
But as far as stories about space travel go, since this is the first one in the collection, it seems to be a good start. Whether this is chronologically Bradbury’s first, I have no idea. I think it probably isn’t, but I can’t be sure without doing some research that I just don’t feel like doing. Either way it’s a decent story as far as stories go, but if you’re looking for something that feels like a story set in outer space, this isn’t it.