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I’m looking for a short story which involved an astronaut who was on the moon and fired a gun which caused the bullet to orbit and hit him on its return. I read this in the earlyish 50s.

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    Possibly "Men of Good Will" by Poul Andersen. Two moon bases dealing the effects of high power rifle shots on the Earth's moon.
    – JRE
    Apr 27, 2019 at 11:46
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    That story is by Ben Bova, not Poul Anderson. It is the one I thought of first as well. Apr 27, 2019 at 13:11
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    Is it the same story as asked about in Story of a robot suspected of murder on a small planet (possibly Asimov)? Apr 27, 2019 at 14:11
  • Oops. Read the wrong line while checking the author. Ben Bova it is.
    – JRE
    Apr 27, 2019 at 14:45
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    @JRE To be fair, Poul Anderson did write something similar. "Holmgang" (originally titled "Out of the Iron Womb"). At the climax, two men agree to have a duel with heavy wrenches as hand weapons on the surface of a small asteroid. The bad guy cheats by bringing a gun to the party. The good guy then uses an air tank from his spacesuit to act as a rocket so he can fly in low orbit clear around the asteroid and blindside the bad guy by hitting him from behind.
    – Lorendiac
    Apr 27, 2019 at 16:05

1 Answer 1

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I just read a story in the March 1928 issue of Amazing Stories in which that happens. It's called "Sub-Satellite," by Charles Cloukey (available to read online here).

In the hour of his triumph, Duseau had been killed. Consider the tremendous power of the Marvite gun. Long ago men calculated that a bullet shot from a gun with a muzzle velocity of 6,500 feet a second would, if there were no obstacles in its path, completely encircle the moon! And that is what happened! One of the bullets Duseau shot from the summit of "Mount Olympus" traveled all the way around the moon, and hit him in the back! And that, Kornfield, is what I was thinking about when I spoke of a sub-satellite.

Of course, it immediately reminded me of Bova's story, "Men of "Good Will," but this was probably forty years before Bova.

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    Wow, nice find!
    – DavidW
    Feb 24, 2020 at 18:26
  • That story was reprinted in a 1967 issue of Amazing Stories but that doesn't help to explain how the OP happened to read it "in the earlyish 50s". My guess is, this idea has been used more than once. isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?54846
    – user14111
    Feb 25, 2020 at 4:26

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