I'm looking for a short story where an astronaut crash lands on Mars (or perhaps some other planet). He begins to regain consciousness, and panic sets in as he realizes he's going to die there. He then loses consciousness for a few moments, only to regain consciousness and experience the same exact panic/realization.

I read this around the 2010's probably, but I'm sure it was written a while before that... Unfortunately can't think of any other details otherwise.

EDIT: Some other details:

  • The story started with him regaining consciousness for the 1st time, having already crashed
  • It ended with him regaining consciousness for the 2nd time
  • He was the first astronaut to land there (in fact, I think he was the only character in the story, but unnamed...?)
  • I read the story in English, either online or as a .pdf.
  • It was required reading for an MIT creative writing summer program for high schoolers
  • I'll add more as I think of them!
  • 1
    Maybe you know more than you think. Any detail might help to jog someone's memory. Was the story in English or some other language? Did you read it in a magazine, online, or in a book? When was the story set? Was there already a colony on the planet, or was this the first astronaut to reach it? And so on... Apr 15, 2020 at 21:56
  • Are you sure he wasn't frozen on Pluto?
    – Valorum
    Apr 15, 2020 at 22:10
  • @InvisibleTrihedron Thanks for the suggestions, I added some more details I thought of!
    – Sam
    Apr 15, 2020 at 22:20
  • @Valorum I don't think this is it, but it's a very similar plot. In my mental image of the story, I can picture a red, rust colored planet/sky. Not sure if it's just my mind playing tricks.
    – Sam
    Apr 15, 2020 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


Possibly The Man Who Lost the Sea by Theodore Sturgeon.

It's about the first astronaut to reach Mars, who crash lands there. He is injured in the crash, and fades in and out.

Plot summary from Wikipedia

When the story opens, the reader is introduced to a boy who is showing a model helicopter to a person described as a "sick man" on a beach. As the story progresses, the models shown by the boy increase in sophistication, first a rocket plane and then an interplanetary spacecraft. The reader also learns of significant events in the boy's life, including his fascination with the Sputnik satellite and a near-drowning experience while swimming in the ocean. Eventually, the reader is told that the boy and the sick man are the same person, an injured astronaut who is regaining consciousness after a crash landing on Mars.

It ends

“God," he cries, dying on Mars, "God, we made it!”

  • 1
    Can you elucidate on how this story matches the description
    – Valorum
    Apr 15, 2020 at 22:19
  • "Enchanted Village" by A. E. van Vogt is also about an astronaut who crash lands on mars and dies there
    – Valorum
    Apr 15, 2020 at 22:21
  • Sounds like you should post an answer! Apr 15, 2020 at 22:22
  • 2
    When I found this story at first, I wasn't quite sure it was the one. But as I read and reread it now, it feels more and more familiar. I think this is it, though it doesn't quite scratch that "on-the-tip-of-my-tongue" itch!
    – Sam
    Apr 15, 2020 at 22:31
  • 2
    @Sam it was the first one I thought of reading your description, and I usually go with that. It's also a relatively famous story at least back in the day, and therefore one I thought might be used in a class. If you think that it is correct, drop me an upvote or accept the answer by clicking on the gray checkmark. Apr 15, 2020 at 23:24

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