A travel agent offers an elderly woman a "trip to heaven"—and she winds up on Mars. She and the other travelers on the tour find a broken-down rocket on the planet’s surface, on which they will make the most shattering discovery of their lives.
A LITTLE JOURNEY (August 1951) marks Bradbury’s final contribution to the editorial decade of Horace Gold, the editor of GALAXY magazine. Like THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE FIREMAN, the story demonstrates Bradbury’s characteristic blending so early in his career of the sentimental and the transcendent, the homely and the mystical. Bradbury’s old women in space and their strange outcome are reminiscent of his more famous story KALEIDOSCOPE (published in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN) and its conclusion shows unusual if understated power. Bradbury’s THE FIREMAN (the short-form version of FAHRENHEIT 451 which was doubled in length for its book publication in 1953) appeared in the February 1951 issue of GALAXY and further solidified GALAXY’s reputation, as a magazine of unprecedented originality and ambition. Gold’s commitment to the highly ambitious THE FIREMAN was, then, courageous for its time and gave publicity to the editor’s insistence that GALAXY was an entirely new kind of science fiction magazine, one which was far more oriented toward style and controversial social extrapolation than the other markets ever had been. Although THE FIREMAN and THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES had been published earlier to significant attention, Bradbury in 1951 was by no means a writer of substantial reputation and his work was regarded by most science fiction editors and readers as marginal to the genre.
In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."