In the midst of the Great Depression, many people found science fiction to be a welcome escape from the feeling of hopelessness that spread across the country. Magazines, such as “Wonder Stories” carried short stories about space travel and life on other planets. The image above shows the cover of the July, 1934 edition, which ran “A Martian Odyssey” by Stanley Weinbaum for the very first time.
The short story is about four men on an expedition to explore Mars. Jarvis, the chemist among them, has just returned from the first walk on the planet, and describes what he saw, and the creature named Tweel that he befriended. The classic science fiction author Isaac Asimov said that this short story was one of a few stories that changed the way future science fiction was written.
I found this little gem of a story in a small paperback collection of his short stories in a used bookstore yesterday. While looking for more information online about the author, I found out that the copyright on this book has expired, therefore making it possible to read and download for free! The world-famous Gutenburg project has made it available for all to enjoy, in several different formats. I thought the Australian version was the best. You can check it out here:
Unfortunately, Mr. Weinbaum died at the young age of 33, only a year and a half after this story was published. He left behind many manuscripts, which were published posthumously.