Marooned off Vesta

"Marooned off Vesta" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was the third story he wrote, and the first to be published.[1] Written in July 1938 when Asimov was 18, it was rejected by Astounding Science Fiction in August, then accepted in October by Amazing Stories, appearing in the March 1939 issue. Asimov first included it in his 1968 story collection Asimov's Mysteries, and subsequently in the 1973 collection The Best of Isaac Asimov.

"Marooned off Vesta"
Amazing stories 193903
AuthorIsaac Asimov
CountryUnited States
SeriesSilver Queen
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inAmazing Stories
Publication typePeriodical
Media typePrint (Magazine)
Publication dateMarch 1939
Followed by"Ring Around the Sun"

Plot summary

"Marooned off Vesta" tells the story of three men who survive the wreck of the spaceship Silver Queen in the asteroid belt and find themselves trapped in orbit around the asteroid of Vesta. They have at their disposal three airtight rooms, one spacesuit, three days' worth of air, a week's supply of food, and a year's supply of water.[2] They are initially despondent about their impending suffocation until one of the men is inspired to melt a hole in the water tank. This begins to propel them towards Vesta, where a small community of humans lives.

The story accurately portrays the physics and experiences involved with being in space, a theme that often re-emerges in Asimov's later works.


In 1958, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the story's appearance, Asimov wrote a sequel titled "Anniversary", set twenty years after the original. Both stories appeared in the March 1959 issue of Amazing Stories and later in the collection Asimov's Mysteries.


Reviewing an anthology including the story, Algis Budrys said "'Marooned off Vesta' was indeed Ike's first sale. His first story came several attempts later". He also described "Anniversary" as "a badly contrived stunt".[3] Asimov wrote in 1973, "Far be it from me to crave indulgence, but I think it is important to understand that at the time I wrote and sold the story (in 1938) I was eighteen years old".[4]


  1. ^ Isaac Asimov (1973). "Introduction". The Best of Isaac Asimov. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-05078-X.
  2. ^ "Marooned off Vesta". Jenkins’ Spoiler-Laden Guide to Isaac Asimov. 1939. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  3. ^ Budrys, Algis (December 1967). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 187–194.
  4. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1973). "Introduction". The Best of Isaac Asimov. Sphere Books. pp. ix–xiv. ISBN 0-385-05078-X. LCCN 74-2863.

External links

1939 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1939.

Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories is an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.

As of 2018, Amazing has been published, with some interruptions, for ninety-two years, going through a half-dozen owners and many editors as it struggled to be profitable. Gernsback was forced into bankruptcy and lost control of the magazine in 1929. In 1938 it was purchased by Ziff-Davis, who hired Raymond A. Palmer as editor. Palmer made the magazine successful though it was not regarded as a quality magazine within the science fiction community. In the late 1940s Amazing presented as fact stories about the Shaver Mystery, a lurid mythos that explained accidents and disaster as the work of robots named deros, which led to dramatically increased circulation but widespread ridicule. Amazing switched to a digest size format in 1953, shortly before the end of the pulp-magazine era. It was sold to Sol Cohen's Universal Publishing Company in 1965, which filled it with reprinted stories but did not pay a reprint fee to the authors, creating a conflict with the newly formed Science Fiction Writers of America. Ted White took over as editor in 1969, eliminated the reprints and made the magazine respected again: Amazing was nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award three times during his tenure in the 1970s. Several other owners attempted to create a modern incarnation of the magazine in the following decades, but publication was suspended after the March 2005 issue. A new incarnation appeared in July 2012 as an online magazine. Print publication resumed with the Fall 2018 issue.

Gernsback's initial editorial approach was to blend instruction with entertainment; he believed science fiction could educate readers. His audience rapidly showed a preference for implausible adventures, and the movement away from Gernsback's idealism accelerated when the magazine changed hands in 1929. Despite this, Gernsback had an enormous impact on the field: the creation of a specialist magazine for science fiction spawned an entire genre publishing industry. The letter columns in Amazing, where fans could make contact with each other, led to the formation of science fiction fandom, which in turn had a strong influence on the development of the field. Writers whose first story was published in the magazine include John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Howard Fast, Ursula K. Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, and Thomas M. Disch. Overall, though, Amazing itself was rarely an influential magazine within the genre after the 1920s. Some critics have commented that by "ghettoizing" science fiction, Gernsback harmed its literary growth, but this viewpoint has been countered by the argument that science fiction needed an independent market to develop in to reach its potential.

Anniversary (short story)

"Anniversary" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the March 1959 issue of Amazing Stories and subsequently appeared in the collections Asimov's Mysteries (1968) and The Best of Isaac Asimov (1973).

The story was written for the twentieth anniversary of Asimov's first published story, "Marooned off Vesta", in the March 1939 issue of Amazing. The magazine reprinted the earlier story with the new one, and he feared that someone would write a letter stating that the earlier's writing was better, but no one did. The story is also part of a loosely connected series of stories by Asimov about the supercomputer Multivac.

Asimov's Mysteries

Asimov's Mysteries, published in 1968, is a collection of 14 short stories by American writer Isaac Asimov, almost all of them science fiction mysteries (although, as Asimov admits in the introduction, some are only borderline). The stories were all originally published in magazines between 1954 and 1967, except for "Marooned off Vesta", Asimov's first published story, which first appeared in 1939.

Four stories in the collection feature the character of Wendell Urth, who is a leading extra-terrologist (an expert on alien worlds and life originating on them). Urth is eccentric in that he has a phobia of all mechanical forms of transport (an exaggeration of Asimov's own aversion to flying). Physically Urth resembles Norbert Wiener.

He appears in the stories when he is consulted by an agent of the Terrestrial Bureau of Investigation, H. Seton Davenport, in cases which have him baffled – a parallel with the way in which Inspector Lestrade consults Sherlock Holmes. In a fifth story in the collection, "The Dust of Death", Asimov shows Davenport a generosity that Conan Doyle never extended to Lestrade in demonstrating the former's ability to solve a case for himself without outside assistance.

Asteroids in fiction

Asteroids and asteroid belts are a staple of science fiction stories. Asteroids play several potential roles in science fiction: as places which human beings might colonize; as resources for extracting minerals; as a hazard encountered by spaceships traveling between two other points; and as a threat to life on Earth due to potential impacts

Autobiographies of Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) wrote three volumes of autobiography. In Memory Yet Green (1979) and In Joy Still Felt (1980) were a two-volume work, covering his life up to 1978. The third volume, I Asimov: A Memoir (1994), published after his death, was not a sequel but a new work which covered his whole life. This third book won a Hugo Award.Before writing these books, Asimov also published three anthologies of science fiction stories which contained autobiographical accounts of his life in the introductions to the stories: The Early Asimov (1972), Before the Golden Age (1974), and Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (1975).

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the "Foundation" series; his other major series are the "Galactic Empire" series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette "Nightfall"; in 1964, it was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, and William Shakespeare's writings.

He was president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and a literary award are named in his honor.

Isaac Asimov short stories bibliography

This is a list of short stories by Isaac Asimov. Asimov is mainly famous for his science-fiction, but he also wrote mystery and fantasy stories.

This list includes Asimov's Foundation short stories, which were later collected into three novels known as the Foundation Trilogy.

List of spacecraft in Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series)

There have been many appearances of various spacecraft in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica science fiction television series, with the primary means of travel being FTL.

Raymond A. Palmer

Raymond Arthur Palmer (August 1, 1910 – August 15, 1977) was an American editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949, when he left publisher Ziff-Davis to publish and edit Fate Magazine, and eventually many other magazines and books through his own publishing houses, including Amherst Press and Palmer Publications. In addition to magazines such as Mystic, Search, and Flying Saucers, he published or republished numerous spirtualist books, including Oahspe: A New Bible, as well as several books related to flying saucers, including The Coming of the Saucers, co-written by Palmer with Kenneth Arnold. Palmer was also a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy stories, many of which were published under pseudonyms.

The Best of Isaac Asimov

The Best of Isaac Asimov is a collection of twelve science fiction short stories by American writer Isaac Asimov, published by Sphere IN 1973. It begins with a short introduction (six pages in the Doubleday hardcover edition) giving various details on the stories, such as how they came to be written, or what significance merits their inclusion in a "best of" collection, as well as some of Dr. Asimov's thoughts on a best of collection itself. The stories included are two of his early works, two of his late works (post-1960), and eight from the 1950s, which he refers to as his "golden decade" in the introduction. Except for the last story in the book, "Mirror Image", none of the stories are related to his Robot and Foundation series, while a few ("The Last Question", "The Dead Past", and "Anniversary") mention the Multivac computer.

The Callistan Menace

"The Callistan Menace" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the April 1940 issue of Astonishing Stories and was reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov. It was the second story written by Asimov, and the oldest story of his still in existence.

The Portable Star

"The Portable Star" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov that appeared in the Winter 1955 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. "The Portable Star" was Asimov's least favorite story.

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