Short Stories - 1950s

City of the Dead 
G. M. Martin
Amazing Stories (January 1950)
"They called Launn a city of the dead. Its Martian peoples lay frozen in their tracks. But were they really dead—or only asleep?"

Dear Devil 
Eric Frank Russell

Other Worlds Science Stories (May 1950)
A near lifeless Earth is visited by hideous aliens. One visitor, a Martian artist, stays behind and befriends a group of children. Cover Art!

Coffins to Mars
Raymond Z. Gallun
Thrilling Wonder Stories (June 1950)
On an overpopulated Earth, what do you do with the rejuvenated elderly, in part to keep them away from intergenerational resentments? Ship them to Mars, where, after complaints and hardships, they start constructive new lives.

Alexander Blade
Fantastic Adventures (September 1950)
"Iceland was the perfect place for a secret military operation. We thought of it, but so had the Martians—ages ago..."

The Crowded Colony 
Jerome Bixby
Planet Stories (Fall 1950)
"Oh, how decadent these Martians were! Burke, Barnes and the rest of the conquerors laughed loudly at the dusty shrines, those crude and homely temples in the desert. More softly laughed the Martians, who dreamed of laughing last..."

The Silly Season
Cyril M. Kornbluth
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Fall 1950)
Satirical story about how Martians invaded Earth.

Ray Bradbury
Planet Stories (Fall 1950)
"They wandered the dead and fragile cities, looking for the legendary Blue Bottle—not knowing what it was, nor caring, not really wanting to find it ... ever ..."

Seven Came Back 
Clifford D. Simak
Amazing Stories (October 1950)
Fantastic (May 1966)
“So it was, so it must be with the myth that told about the great and glowing city that had stood above all other things of Mars—a city that was known to the far ends of the planet.” Later published as Mirage.

Mars is -- Hell! 
Forrest J Ackerman
Planet Stories (November 1950)
Humorous review of film Rocketship X-M (1950)

Robert Moore Williams
Men Against the Stars anthology (1950)
“With better space ships, exploration of other worlds brings more unpredictable hazards of mystery and death.”

Black Amazon of Mars 
Leigh Brackett
Planet Stories (March 1951)
"Grimly Eric John Stark slogged toward that ancient Martian city—with every step he cursed the talisman of Ban Cruach that flamed in his blood-stained belt. Behind him screamed the hordes of Ciaran, hungering for that magic jewel—ahead lay the dread abode of the Ice Creatures—at his side stalked the whispering spectre of Ban Cruach, urging him on to a battle Stark knew he must lose!"

Duel on Syrtis 
Poul Anderson
Planet Stories (March 1951)
"Bold and ruthless, he was famed throughout the System as a big-game hunter. From the firedrakes of Mercury to the ice-crawlers of Pluto, he'd slain them all. But his trophy-room lacked one item; and now Riordan swore he'd bag the forbidden game that roamed the red deserts... a Martian!"

R. F. Starzl
Avon Science Fiction Reader #1 (April 1951)
“Men who are isolated in lonely places can and do crack-up. At least, for them, the radio remains some sort of communication with their home bases. But what of the man isolated in some mining or expeditionary base on some other more desolate world?”

It Happened on Mars 
Salem Lane
Amazing Stories (July 1951)
A vignette in which a man expects to spend a peaceful night alone in the Martian desert.

D. B. Lewis
Planet Stories (September 1951)
"In the dim Water Temple, where the dead grinned down on the dead, Hale met his D-day. Should he give an ex-comrade to the torturing Lhrai or chance the massacre of Terrestrial thousands?"

Manly Wade Wellman
Future (November 1951)
"Ismail, the Outworlder, found that his reputation was a very convenient thing for lesser known-thives ..."

Cyril Judd (Cyril M. Kornbluth & Judith Merril)
Astounding Science Fiction (March, April, May 1952)
Gunner Cade, a professional soldier of the Realm of Man, is captured by rebel forces on Mars but escapes, only to find that he is being hunted by fellow gunners.

John Wyndham (John Beynon Harris)
Thrilling Wonder Stories (February 1952)
Close to pure horror, this story has all of the classic themes of man's inhumanity to man and monster within that is released when one's existence is threatened. Here, Mars is an unattainable goal.

The Old Martians 
Roger Phillips Graham
If: Worlds of Science Fiction (March 1952)
"They opened the ruins to tourists at a dollar a head but they reckoned without The Old Martians."

Damon Knight
Galaxy Science Fiction (March 1952)
"Easily annoyed? Maybe it's just as well that you don't have the power this character possessed!"

Lady Killer 
Chad Oliver
Startling Stories (March 1952)
"The human race faces extinction—unless Earthmen can find mates on Mars!"
A war has sterilized all human females on Earth. An expedition is mounted to Mars in the hopes of finding humanoid females there who are interfertile. The members of the crew, which includes the “Lady Killer,” find Martians who initially look like the covers of science fiction magazines, then appear to be beautiful women. In reality, the Martians are blobs who can project their thoughts.

The Last Days of Shandakor
Leigh Brackett
Startling Stories (April 1952)
"An Earthman finds love and tragedy in a long-dead city of ancient Mars that denies death."

Laurence Manning
Fantastic Story Magazine (Spring 1952)
"Radioman Willie couldn’t shoot straight, but he was on the beam!"

Dumb Martian
John Wyndham (John Beynon Harris)
Galaxy Science Fiction (July 1952)
If the woman in this story weren't a Martian, the story would just be a cautionary tale against domestic abuse.

Night Talk 
Charles E. Fritch
Startling Stories (September 1952)
A short short story about the duplication of a blessed event, this time on poor, old, polluted, depleted Mars.

Notice of Intent 
Phyllis Sterling Smith
Startling Stories (October 1952)
“They tried to corner the drug market, but they overlooked one possibility.”
From Mars comes the wonder-drug Marcillin and a selfish plot by Earthly monopolists to corner the market on this precious new commodity.

The Martian and the Magician 
Evelyn E. Smith
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (November 1952)
"A hilarious rib on space travel, old-fashioned magic, BEMS or what-have you."

The Wilderness 
Ray Bradbury
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (November 1952)
This tale chronicles two women and their last night on Earth as they finish preparations to depart for Mars.

A Lack of Verisimilitude 
Walt Sheldon
Space Science Fiction (November 1952)
A science fiction story about writing science fiction stories. The main character, who is the author, and a Martian collaborate to write six science fiction stories set on Mars.

Isaac Asimov
Galaxy Science Fiction (November 1952)
"It was junk they hunted, but enormously valuable and urgently needed junk that cost only bravery and the cheapest fuel ... yet they were kept from collecting it by an even cheaper lie!"

Translator's Error 
Charles Dye
Dynamic Science Fiction (December 1952)
"It was a perfectly natural mistake for men to make; the mural extended the full length of the hall, depicting scenes of the old Martian civilization." 

John W. Campbell
Wonder Story Annual (1952)
“Penton and Blake find Mars a pleasant place to be—until they run afoul of the thushol, which can imitate anything!”

Stepping Stone 
Charles F. Ksanda
Startling Stories (March 1953)
Bradbury-like story of a strange interstellar dreamer who lays in wait on Mars for unsuspecting explorers from Mars and whose dreams he makes real.

Philip Jose Farmer
Science-Fiction Plus (March 1953)
"It'll be hard getting a good smoke on Mars."

Thy Name Is Woman 
Bryce Walton
If: Worlds of Science Fiction (March 1953)
"Women of earth had finally attained their objective: a new world all their own and—without men! But was it?"

Earth is the Evening Star
Robert Sherman Townes
Startling Stories (April 1953)
Passable Bradbury imitation, about the first Earthmen on Mars and how they solved the mystery of the strange immortal city with no inhabitants.

Turnover Point 
Alfred Coppel
Amazing Stories (April-May 1953)
"Every era in history has had its Pop Ganlon's. Along in years and not successful and not caring much anyway. A matter of living out their years, following an obscure path to oblivion. It was that way in ancient Egypt, just as it will be when the Solar System shrinks to our size. And once in a while such men are given an opportunity to contribute to the society that has forgotten them..."
Set partially in Marsport on the Red Planet, a father avenges the murder of his son, a policeman.

Mars Confidential 
Jack Lait
Amazing Stories (April-May 1953)
"Here is history's biggest news scoop! Those intrepid reporters Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer, whose best-selling exposes of life's seamy side from New York to Medicine Hat have made them famous, here strip away the veil of millions of miles to bring you the lowdown on our sister planet. It is an amazing account of vice and violence, of virtues and victims, told in vivid, jet-speed style. Here you'll learn why Mars is called the Red Planet, the part the Mafia plays in her undoing, the rape and rapine that has made this heavenly body the cesspool of the Universe. In other words, this is Mars—Confidential!"

Legacy from Mars
Raymond Z. Gallun
Science Fiction Adventures (July 1953)
A semi-serious “fish story” spoof, featuring a whimsically charming pair of goldfish-like creatures, Marty and Martia, from the polar regions of arid Mars, a young Greek who plays the harmonica, two old spacemen, the daughter of one, and a villainous tomcat.

One Martian Afternoon 
Tom Leahy
If: Worlds of Science Fiction (July 1953)
"She was sweet, gentle, kind—a sort of Martian Old Mother Hubbard. But when she went to her cupboard…"

Stamped CAUTION!
Raymond Z. Gallun
Galaxy Science Fiction (August 1953)
"It's a funny thing, but most monsters seem to be of the opinion that it's men who are the monsters. You know, they have a point." A first encounter yarn. A non-humanoid infant Martian is found encased in a mudball aboard a crashed spacecraft. Amid much wary speculation and nervously extreme precautions about the hazard he might pose, he is carefully and experimentally raised on Earth, and accompanies the first Earth expedition to the Red Planet.

Mark Clifton and Alex Apostolides
Galaxy Science Fiction (August 1953)
“Naturally, the superior race should win, but superior by which standards, and whose?”

Charles A. Stearns
Fantastic Story (September 1953)
"Mrs. Worthington-Smythe issues invitations to a little party."

Sam Sackett
Fantastic Story (September 1953)
"Survivors of the Mars I were beyond hope when the time came!"

Alger Rome (Jerome Bixby and Algis Budrys)
Rocket Stories (September 1953)
"Never underestimate the power of a woman, they told him. But when he found the bedraggled waif stowed away on the little miserable ship to Mars, he knew what was waiting for her out there. And he knew she’d underestimated a lot of things."

Potential Zero (Martian Honeymoon)
John Bloodstone (Stuart J. Byrne)
Science Stories (December 1953)
“The Vanyans came from outer space bringing Earthmen invaluable gifts, and Earth received them — and their gifts — with open arms. But what was behind it all? What would the Vanyans ask in payment? With these questions came fear ... and distrust ... and hatred.” Very human story of a man and woman from different worlds whose love, and lives, were put to the test when each was forced to betray each other to save their own world from peril!

Corwin F. Stickney
Science Fiction Plus (December 1953)
“For untold millennia the virus had drifted over the arid wasteland of Mars, knowing that it was the only sentient life on the planet. Until one day, when shock waves and a blast of welcome heat deposited a cylinder of gleaming metal, towering in the desert...”

Richard Terzian
Vortex Science Fiction Vol. 1, No. 2 (1953)

The Record of Currupira 
Robert Abernathy
Fantastic Universe (January 1954)
"This story contains what is, to us, at any rate, a novel idea—that when we of Earth finally reach Mars we may find there records of prehistoric Earth far surpassing those of our paleontologists. Or, in other words, that creatures of Mars may have visited this planet tens of thousands of years ago and returned home with specimens for their science. A nice idea well told."

The Holes Around Mars 
Jerome Bixby
Galaxy Science Fiction (January 1954)
"Science said it could not be, but there it was. And whoosh—look out—here it is again!"

The Crystal Crypt 
Philip K. Dick
Planet Stories (January 1954)
"Stark terror ruled the Inner-Flight ship on that last Mars-Terra run. For the black-clad Leiters were on the prowl ... and the grim red planet was not far behind."

The Man the Martians Made 
Frank Belknap Long
Fantastic Universe (January 1954)
"No mortal had ever seen the Martians, but they had heard their whisperings—without knowing the terrible secret they kept hidden."

Cargo to Mars
Walter H. Mulstay
Fantastic Story Magazine (Spring 1954)
"Only the waiting colonists on Mars knew why the courageous space captain didn’t abandon his ship."

Cancer World 
Harry Warner
Imagination (May 1954)
"Greg tried desperately to find an illegal method of joining his family on Mars; for the law said that no healthy man could land on a—Cancer World."

A Gift for Terra 
Fox B. Holden
If: Worlds of Science Fiction (September 1954)
"The good Martian Samaritans rescued Johnny Love and offered him "the stars". Now, maybe, Johnny didn't look closely enough into the "gift horse's" mouth, but there were others who did ... and found therein the answer to life...."

$1,000 a Plate 
Jack McKenty
Galaxy (October 1954)
"When Marsy Gras shot off its skyrockets, Mars Observatory gave it the works--fireworks!"

The Hitch Hikers 
Vernon L. McCain
If: Worlds of Science Fiction (November 1954)
"The Rell, a great and ancient Martian race, faced extinction when all moisture was swept from their planet. Then, one day, a lone visitor—a strange, two-legged creature composed mostly of water—landed on Mars..." The Rell, a great and ancient Martian race, are faced with extinction when all moisture is swept from the planet and their canals run dry.

Hagerty’s Enzymes
A. L. Haley
Planet Stories (Spring 1955)
"There's a place for every man and a man for every place, but on robot-harried Mars the situation was just a little different."

Alien Equivalent
Richard R. Smith
Planet Stories (Summer 1955)
"Martians were weak, sensitive, a dying race, frail and impotent before the superiority of master Earthmen. Only in the sly and mentally skillful game of Duchal might sons of the red planet emerge gloriously from their shells."

The Beast-Jewel of Mars
V. E. Thiessen
Planet Stories (Spring 1955)
"The city was strange, fantastic, beautiful. He'd never been there before, yet already he was a fabulous legend—a dire, hateful legend."

Shock Absorber
E. G. von Wald
Astounding Science Fiction (June 1955)
"A man acts on what he believes the facts are, not on the facts. He lives or dies by what the facts are. Now sometimes you don't have time to correct a man's beliefs, yet he must act correctly...."

Robert F. Young
Fantastic Universe (December 1955)
"A vision of beauty becomes a part of the mind that rejoices in its splendor. No wonder the Martian towers menaced Thorton’s sanity."

Chad Oliver
New Worlds Science Fiction (April 1956)

The Hills of Home
Alfred Coppel
Future Science Fiction (August 1956)
"Mars is where I belong. With my friends, Tars Tarkas the great Green Jeddak, and Carter, the Warlord, and all the beautiful brave people." Slightly different version than the story published in Galaxy Science Fiction (October 1960).

The Man Who Hated Mars
Gordon Randall Garrett
Amazing Stories (September 1956)
"To escape from Mars, all Clayton had to do was the impossible. Break out of a crack-proof exile camp—get onto a ship that couldn't be boarded—smash through an impenetrable wall of steel. Perhaps he could do all these things, but he discovered that Mars did evil things to men; that he wasn't even Clayton any more. He was only—The Man Who Hated Mars."

H. Beam Piper
Astounding Science Fiction (February 1957)
"To translate writings, you need a key to the code—and if the last writer of Martian died forty thousand years before the first writer of Earth was born ... how could the Martian be translated...?" Linguist Martha Dane and her team of scientists on the Red Planet try to decipher the language of a dead Martian civilization.

The Next Time We Die
Robert Moore Williams
Amazing Stories (February 1957)
"We journey to far places, driven on by ideals. We fight for lost causes, sacrificing our lives because the things we fight for seem worthwhile. But are we right? Are they worth being killed over? Perhaps. Then again, maybe we'll know better—The Next Time We Die."

The Devil Spins a Sun-Dream
John Jakes
Space Science Fiction Magazine (Spring 1957)
A human prospector on Mars searches for a fabled city.

M. Bower
Fantastic Universe (May 1957)
"Most people suspected he was a spaceman -- even though his wife insisted he couldn’t be!"

I Like Martian Music
Charles E. Fritch
Fantastic Universe (September 1957)
"Longtree played. His features relaxed into a gentle smile of happiness and his body turned a bright red orange... There have been a number of interesting theories advanced about life on Mars, but few have equalled Charles Fritch's intriguing picture of the world of Longtree and Channeljumper in its infinite variations, tonal and thematic. The Mars of these two is an old culture, old and finite."

I'm in Marsport without Hilda
Isaac Asimov
Venture Science Fiction Magazine (November 1957)
“Drifting through low gravity in a sea of jasmine perfume with Flora -- my plan for the evening ... Breaking up a trillion-dollar drug-menace deal -- the Service's plan for my evening ... Said in Spaceoline: To hell with Service is lovely.”

What’s He Doing in There?
Fritz Leiber
Galaxy Science Fiction (December 1957)
"He went where no Martian ever went before—but would he come out—or had he gone for good?"

Moment of Truth
Basil Wells
Fantastic Universe (December 1957)
"Beyond the false windows she could see the reddish wasteland where dust clouds spun and shifted so slowly... Basil Wells, who lives in Pennsylvania, has been doing research concerning life in the area during the period prior to and following the War of 1812. Here he turns to a different problem—the adjustment demanded of a pioneer woman, not in those days but Tomorrow—on Mars."

Ministering Angels
C. S. Lewis
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (January 1958)
Two women volunteer to bring sexual solace to a team of male scientists on Mars.

Arm of the Law
Harry Harrison
Fantastic Universe (August 1958)
"At one time—this was before the Robot Restriction Laws—they'd even allowed them to make their own decisions...." How could a robot—a machine, after all—be involved in something like law application and violence? Harry Harrison, who will be remembered for his Trainee for Mars (June 1958) tells what happens when a police robot hits an outpost on Mars.

The Hated
Frederik Pohl
Galaxy Science Fiction (January 1958)
"After space, there was always one more river to cross ... the far side of hatred and murder!"

Nine Shadows at Doomsday
S. M. Tenneshaw
Space Travel (November 1958)
"Centuries before something had destroyed life in the solar system. That portion of space was now off limits—but not for a hunted man..." A space outlaw and two academics from the Alphanus Historical Foundation undertake a secret expedition to Thor Peak on the distant and forbidden planet of Mars to find out what eradicated life in the desolate Sol system three thousand years before.

A. Bertram Chandler
Amazing Science Fiction Stories (January 1959)
"Meyer was Dictator, and Farson was King of the Rockets, and Sandra wanted a baby. Together they brought a dead world -- and its dead Beings -- to life. Together they suffered for their daring."

The Man Who Lost the Sea
Theodore Sturgeon
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (October 1959) 
A tale about the final moments of a dying astronaut on Mars.