Trying to remember a "first landing on Mars" story. Read in the eighties, short story, not a novel. Basically the story has an Apollo-style crew, I think, two guys in a lander and one in an orbiting craft. The two guys in the lander come out and what they see is an Edgar Rice Burroughs kind of landscape. The guy in the mothership is convinced, of course that they are hallucinating. Finally one of them takes off his helmet. His buddy on the surface sees him walking around with no ill effects, but the guy in the mothership reports that his suit telemetry says he's dead. Finally, the second guy takes his helmet off too. The end of the story has the two heading to the towers off in the distance while the other crewmember mourns them as dead.

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    That almost sounds like the kind of thing Ray Bradbury would write, although I'm absolutely certain that this is not one of the stories collected in his The Martian Chronicles. I'm just guessing, though, that he could conceivably have written such a thing as a one-shot not connected to any of his other stories set on Mars . . . but I don't recall ever reading it in any of his collections.
    – Lorendiac
    Feb 14, 2019 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


"The Gods of Mars" by Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, and Michael Swanwick.

I can't imagine there is another story like this, but it differs in some insigificant ways from what's in the question. For example, there are 3 landed astronauts. You're right about the telemetry though.

When the third red light winked on, Commander Redenbaugh slumped against the board and started to cry.

It ends describing what the men left behind see.

Last night, climbing the highest of the rolling hills to the north, they had seen the lights of a distant city, glinting silver and yellow and orange on the horizon, gleaming far away across the black midnight expanse of the dead sea bottom like an ornate and intricate piece of jewelry set against ink-black velvet.

Thomas was still not sure if he hoped there would be aristocratic red men there, and giant four-armed green Tharks, and beautiful Martian princesses....

Full text available here, h/t to Jenayah.

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    That's it. Thanks. Didn't remember where I'd read it, but that OMNI cover looks very familiar. (Of course it would, being that's a pretty famous picture of Mars.) Feb 14, 2019 at 2:51
  • I read it in the Wollheim "Best of" collection. Feb 14, 2019 at 2:51
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    Since there's been some discussion of how story IDs can be done: I knew I had read it, but it was newer than my core short story reading decades: 50s-70s, and that it wasn't by one of my core authors. Given that, for me, it pretty much had to be in one of the 2 "Year's Best" series I own, so I started browsing tables of contents of those series on isfdb (starting at the end and working backward). If a title sounded like it might relate to Mars, I pulled out the book and checked the story. Feb 14, 2019 at 3:13

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