As I remember it, this short-story was about a man travelling alone through space (our galaxy at least to start).

He had his favorite music and books (etc) with him and, I believe, his cat.

It was very cerebral and all about ruminating on the reality of travelling through the vast distances of nothingness of space (e.g. years between planets, etc).

I don't think he dies in the end, but, again, not 100% sure...

I also believe it was pre-1990's and perhaps from one of the classic/giant Sci-fi writers, but I'm not 100% sure of this.

Some others' suggestions that weren't it:

  • Philip K. Dick - "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon"
  • Ray Bradbury - "Icarus Montgolfier Wright"
  • Robert Heinlein - "Ordeal in Space"
  • Alfred Bester - "The Stars My Destination"
  • Ray Bradbury - "Kaleidoscope"
  • Martin Caiden - "Marooned"
  • Stephen King - "The Jaunt"
  • Arthur C Clarke "The Star"
  • John Varley - "The Pusher"

UPDATE: I'm not 100% sure this is it; but, the first section in Chapter 7 of Murray Leinster's The Wailing Asteroid is as close as anything I've read: https://clyx.com/books/leinster/the_wailing_asteroid/chapter_7.htm

  • Do you happen to recall why he was travelling through space? Did he spend all his time in space, or did he land on planets from time to time? Did he meet any space aliens?
    – user14111
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 20:55
  • RE: Why -- Other than exploration/knowledge: no He never left the ship, did not encounter aliens, and spent his time only in the ship (awake, no hypersleep that I remember).
    – wcullen
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 20:57
  • 1
    I've read over half of your rejected suggestions, and I'm wondering why they were suggested in the first place, as the ones I've read bear no resemblance at all to your description.
    – user14111
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 21:12
  • 2
    If it's about a group of people who were given mathematical puzzle books to help pass the time (only to learn that their journey was pointless, and math was the actual purpose), I might have a clue.
    – user1197
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 23:26
  • 1
    For some reason your description makes me think Larry Niven but I'm not sure why. Barrycarter23 makes me think of Pohl or Preuss. Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 23:50

2 Answers 2


"Med Ship", a collection of four stories by Murray Leinster currently published by Baen Books, may be what you're describing.

Calhoun, the main character, flies from planet to planet providing medical services. His companion Murgatroyd is a small animal which I always thought was somewhat cat-like. Calhoun spends a lot of his in-transit time in "deep thought", and he does have books and music.

A paragraph from the link above:

Calhoun is the best the Med Service has, and hard experience has taught him that often the major obstacle to curing the sick is ... the sick. And removing that kind of obstacle may take very strong medicine. To find a cure for a disease, Calhoun has the help of his small animal companion Murgatroyd, a formal—a species with the most powerful immune system in the galaxy. But to find a cure for hysteria, prejudice, crime, and even war is much more complicated, requiring considerable ingenuity. Fortunately, ingenuity is something that Calhoun has in good supply...

  • I don't remember there being a goal (saving lives, etc.) or anything this elaborate. The story I remember was only about the person setting off into space in this way (alone, with books and music, etc.). It described more the loneliness and emptiness of space that lay in front of him, but it basically stopped there. That being said, this series sounds quite interesting! I ordered a copy of the book. So, even if it isn't what I was thinking of, you gave me something new and interesting to read either way!! Thanks :-)
    – wcullen
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 0:26
  • 2
    Read Med Ship on your recommendation. Enjoyed it (thanks!), but it's not what I was lokking for. I'm pretty sure the story I'm referring to was either a novella or, more likely, a short-story
    – wcullen
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 16:36

Try James Tiptree Jr's "The man who walked home"

  • You could improve this answer by explaining how this story matches the one described in the question. Take a look at this post for tips on how to writer a good story ID answer. Commented May 20, 2021 at 5:15
  • 1
    Isn't a story of reverse time travel which begins in catastrophe? Commented May 20, 2021 at 6:22
  • There are no spaceships in that story. Commented May 20, 2021 at 11:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.