One in 300 by J.T. McIntosh

This installment of “memorable” has two phrases, actually.  Both are from the same tale of doomsday.

one-in-300.jpg

[cover by Ed Valigursky, Ace Books, 1955]

Our sun’s solar output will go up a couple percent soon – time to move!  But how?  Have the great manufacturing centers build lifeships.  One pilot, ten passengers, and enough ships for every “one in three hundred” of Earth’s population to try to fly to Mars.  Madness!  But it helped some of the world to deal with doomsday…  Here’s McIntosh’s opening:

“I ignored the half-human thing that ran at my heels like a dog, crying, “Please! Please! Please!”  …  I was twenty-eight, Lt. Bill Easson, and a more unremarkable young man it would have been difficult to find.  but now through no fault of my own, I was a god.”  Lt Easson is in Simsville, pop. 3261, to secretly pick in 3 weeks the ten people he would try to fly to Mars.  “Lt. Bill Easson, god!”

Mars was still considered to have a reasonable atmospheric pressure in 1953, when this 51 page novelette appeared in the Feb 1953 issue of F&SF magazine.  Two more installments followed: “One in a Thousand” in Jan 1954, and “One Too Many” in Sept 1954.  [Thanks to sfsite.com for the story info.] The Ace paperback ran 218 pages.

I’ve linked to the SF Book Club edition Amazon.com used page – fortunately it was quite popular then, and there are 16 copies at U$9 and under.  One in Three Hundred (Doubleday science fiction)  Don’t be misled by the image of the paperback cover on the Amazon page – it’s the hardcover book club edition, which is more plentiful and cheaper than the paperback.

A classic sf disaster and/or doomsday novel!  I’ll be adding a link here later to a not-yet existing sf disaster/doomsday page as I review other classics like Fritz Leiber’s “The Wanderer.”

Next installment of Memorable will try to explain why 1.933 centimeters is such a terribly small diameter.

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