It's a short story about two astronauts who land on a planet. They think they see green hills, flowers, breathable air. Despite the warnings coming from their base, one of them removes his helmet. At the base they see his head explode, but the second astronaut sees his companion running free and happy, inviting him to take off his helmet too and join him. Torn between his companion's entreaties and his superiors' warnings, the second astronaut finally gives in to the delusion and takes off his helmet.

What short story is it? Who is the author?

  • 5
    Is it possible you're misremembering, or getting confused with the novel "Wool"? May 23 at 13:29
  • 3
    Wool never had two Cleaners outside at the same time, and the Cleaners had no need to take off their helmets; their suits failed in a matter of fifteen minutes or so.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    May 23 at 13:37
  • 2
    This sounds like something Q would have done to the members of an Away Team from the Enterprise.
    – user57467
    May 23 at 20:41
  • 6
    Does this answer your question? 1st Mars landing story-Read in eighties
    – fectin
    May 23 at 21:37
  • 2
    @fectin - The OP has not confirmed that any answers currently submitted are correct yet, and until they do, this question should not be flagged as a duplicate. May 23 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


I think this is "The Gods of Mars" by Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, and Michael Swanwick.

An older question (link below) says

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.

Full answer here 1st Mars landing story-Read in eighties

  • 3
    I asked question some time back. May 23 at 16:50
  • 1
    Yes!! That’s it, it’s “The Gods of Mars”! Reading it, I remembered details I had forgotten about, like the swim in the canal. Thank you!!
    – Kiara
    May 25 at 1:27
  • 4
    @Klara you are most welcome! If this is indeed the story you were looking for, please click the gray checkmark beside the answer to mark it as solved. May 25 at 1:37

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