I had to read this science fiction short story in high school and I loved it so much that I printed all 20 something pages out so I would have my own copy. Though, over the years I had forgotten about it and I have no idea where my copy of it is.
But, about an hour ago I saw a mention of it in a news article I had been reading, and instantly remembered it and looked it up so I could re-read it.
Since I’m older now, I can appreciate it so much more. One of the most intense, heartbreaking, tragic stories I’ve ever read. The myriad of feelings one feels while reading this beautiful masterpiece of literature has no words.
To sum it up without spoilers, it’s about a one-man cargo ship on its way to deliver supplies to sick colonists on some distant planet. To save fuel, the ships are fueled with just enough fuel to make its destination based on the amount of weight on board the ship, any extra weight will compromise the ship. In simple terms, the pilot, the only person who is supposed to be on board and whose weight was added into the fueling equation, finds a stowaway on his ship, whose weight had not been added into the equation. This puts his mission in danger.
Even though this story takes place in the future in a world that we don’t know or may never exist, it is a very human story about the circumstances of sometimes-futile human emotion and how we are powerless against the forces of science.
Sad, tragic, hopeful, and beautifully genius, I highly recommend this story for anyone interested in well, anything. You don’t have to like science fiction to like and appreciate this story, you just have to be human.