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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Exploring Tomorrow -- The Cold Equations

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Exploring Tomorrow was a short-term replacement series that ran from late 1957 through mid-1958. Of its 42 episodes approximately 12 are considered "lost," while many of the surviving episodes are of inferior quality, with poor sound, scratches, and other defects. Tom Godwin's (1915-1980) "The Cold Equations" first appeared in the August 1954 issue of John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction (cover at left). Exploring Tomorrow aired it sometime in 1958 as its 22nd episode. It is probably the most reprinted story in science fiction history and several attendant controversies have made the story one of almost legendary proportions. Some have claimed that Godwin stole the basic idea from a 1952 story in the EC comic Weird Science, while others cite a similar story situation in a 1949 E. C. Tubb story. Those defending the story claim it is naught but a variation on the much older theme of the one sacrificing for the many.

"The Cold Equations" has also given rise to more current controversy and speculation because it is a female at the heart of the story who must face the consequences of her actions, the female component added at the request of editor Campbell who felt the emotional aspect of a helpless woman in dire straits for his predominantly male readership would enhance the impact of the story. Feminists and others have taken issue with this decision, though the story was written in the 1950s. It has been dramatized several times for television (The Twilight Zone, et al), and was made into a 1996 made-for-television movie for the (then named) Sci-Fi Channel.

As with all Exploring Tomorrow episodes, legendary editor Campbell narrates and offers several interspersed bits of commentary throughout the episode, making it a real treat for SF fans.

Play Time: 17:41