I was rereading George R R Martin and thought this was by him, but didn't see it. I probably read it between 5 and 15 years ago. The man is one of the crew. He killed various other crewmembers in different ways. I think he killed one or two of the others by flooding the ship with something poisonous while he wore a suit and clung to the outside. The ship is in an orbit around the earth where every year or so he talks to home base. I can't remember if they just ignore him, or are polite and noncommital for some reason. The story ends with him rationalizing/hoping that one year they'll let him come home.

I might be mixing up this part, but I kind of think they are polite, and it's because the crew had just done something heroic. And they didn't have life support enough for everyone to get home, or something like that. So that's why he killed them.

I'm almost thinking their heroic action took hundreds of years on Earth, while they might've gone FTL or something. Otr maybe he's just out of gas. Either way, they no longer have a way for him to land. And they were going to build something, or send a rescue ship, but then they found out he was a murderer. So they are polite like "We won't kill you, but you aren't worth saving either."

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    It sounds similar to one of Heinlein's stories, called "Orphans of the Sky," but slightly altered.
    – Durakken
    Jul 8, 2016 at 9:54
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    I'm quite sure it isn't Orphans of the Sky. In that book, the "killing everyone" part is the backstory, but in my story, it's the main part of the plot.
    – Daphne B
    Jul 8, 2016 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


This could be The Second Kind of Loneliness by George R R Martin.

From Goodreads:

Isolated millions of miles from Pluto for the last 4 years, a lonely man stations a lonely outpost in space to open vorteces for interstellar travel. When his 4 years is up, however, our lonely stationer gets a little shook up.


In this story, he presents the reader with a single nameless protagonist, whose problem, his loneliness and isolation on a distant outpost beyond Pluto is about to come to an end.

GRRM promises, in a way, that there is a happy resolution to the story, but this promise is only something his protagonist believes. This early story sets a trend for Martin as a writer who writes stories that don't have pat, "happy" endings.

As a reader, I wanted to feel for Martin's protagonist. Martin doesn't allow us that. He shows us instead that this individual is only worthy of our pity. His loneliness and isolation are things entirely of his own making.

  • The commenters are right. This is not the story I was thinking of. It is a similar theme for sure (which is probably why I misremembered the actual story as being by George R R Martin). But I have read this story before and know that its plot is quite different. Thanks.
    – Daphne B
    Jul 27, 2016 at 15:16

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