Here, have the first paragraph of this story. Because no matter how hard I try, I don’t think I will ever be able to write a description as fantastic as this one:
The first concussion cut the rocket up the side with a giant can opener. The men were thrown into space like a dozen wriggling sliverfish. They were scattered into a dark sea; and the ship, in a million pieces, went on, a meteor swarm seeking a lost sun.
Look at that. LOOK AT IT. Tell me that is not some straight up AMAZING prose right there. And if you tell me that, you can just leave right now.
This story feels like a culmination of Bradbury’s meditations on death. Though I highly doubt this is the last time the topic arises, given how prevalent it’s been so far. But as far as stories about death go, this one is easily one of the best. You could study this story in a philosophy class, that’s how well thought out it is.
And the description is just gorgeous. Easily the best story set in space thus far. It really feels like a science fiction story, rather than an Earth story trying to be a science fiction story. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that none of it takes place on solid ground, or maybe it has to do with the fact that it’s really the end of a story, in a way, so there’s no plot to worry about.
Speaking of which, it’s pretty amazing to me that Bradbury manages to work in a feeling of plot when the story is literally just seven pages of the death throes of a crew of astronauts. There’s nothing possible in terms of actual plot here, because no one can actually do anything to drive a plot. But it feels like there’s a plot anyway. Somehow, the story is both a meditation on mortality and an actual story in which you care about what happens to these characters — even though there’s only one possible outcome, and there isn’t really any chance of anything else happening. You can still feel tension and still care about what happens, even though the ending is predetermined and inevitable.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from this story because I didn’t know anything about it other than the title. Which, obviously, doesn’t really give any information. But I’m pleasantly surprised with the outcome. There’s nothing better than reading a story with no expectations and finding out it’s just a phenomenal work.
On a final note this review is dedicated to a friend of mine who suggested I review this story and another one; the second one he suggested is unfortunately not in my collection, but I plan to track it down and review it once I finish the collection I have. Consider it a bonus review.