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

X Minus One -- "The Last Martian" by Fredric Brown

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X Minus One aired "The Last Martian" on August 7, 1956 as its 63rd episode. This Fredric Brown (1906-72) short story originally appeared in the October 1950 Galaxy, the magazine's debut issue.

The story opens in a bar, where a reporter is steered to a man sitting at a table drinking. He is bemoaning the fact that no one will listen to his story, that he has been taken over by a Martian and believes himself to be the last Martian, following a disaster on Mars that has led his Martian counterpart coming to Earth and living amongst humans incognito. Is the man mad? His story is so detailed and thus hard to disbelieve that the reporter decides (against his better judgment) to do a little digging in order to prove the man's story false. What he discovers goes far beyond discovering the truth about the delusional man in the neighborhood bar, as you will hear. It's good fun to a point, but ends on a rather serious note that plays on our paranoia to good effect.

Justly acclaimed as the master of the short-short, "The Last Martian" is one of 21 stories collected in the author's 1958 Bantam paperback collection Honeymoon in Hell.

Also included in the first issue of Galaxy were stories by Clifford D. Simak (Part I of Time Quarry, published in book form as Time and Again, 1951), Richard Matheson's short story "Third from the Sun," Theodore Sturgeon's novelette "The Stars are the Styx," Fritz Leiber's short story "Later Than You Think," Katherine MacLean's novelette "Contagion," and Isaac Asimov's short story "Darwinian Pool Room." That's one hell of a lineup for a first issue.

Play Time: 27:52

{While Fredric Brown would write but a handful of SF novels, he enjoyed seeing a number of his detective/mystery short story collections and novels achieve a loyal following. His prolific SF short story output saw his inventive tales collected in something like 20 collections, the first three of which are shown below.}

[Left: Originally published by Shasta in 1951, this is the 1953 Bantam pb cover - Center: Originally published by Dutton in 1954 under the title Angels and Spaceships, this is the 1956 Bantam pb cover - Right: Originally published by Bantam in 1958, this is the 2nd Bantam printing from 1963.]