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This Day in Science Fiction History: 13 August

Fictional Entry—Wednesday, August 13, 1952

The launch had gone perfectly. Because of Dr. Hendron’s noble sacrifice, the Ark was right at the weight limit for escaping the gravity well of Earth. The ship blasted down the ramp and up into the atmosphere. The massive acceleration caused, as expected, the entire flight crew and passengers to black out during the ascent.

A few minutes later, the launch engines automatically cut off. With the acceleration forces removed, the people returned to consciousness. The flight crew checked the calculations against the Ark’s instruments. They were on course to rendezvous with Zyra.

Now that the ship was on its way, the crew turned the telescopes aft. The last remaining humans of Earth watched helplessly as Bellus destroyed their home planet in a fiery impact. There was no longer an Earth to return to.

Hours passed uneventfully, the crew checking the ship and making sure it was airtight. More than twelve hours after launching, the Ark entered the gravitational pull of Zyra, With an astounding roar, the pilots restarted the Ark’s rocket engines. The fuel gauge indicated barely an eighth of the tank’s content remained. There was only enough for a single landing attempt.

The fuel gauge fell steadily as the engines slowed the mighty ship. David Randell flew until the engines had drunk every bit of fuel. He searched for a safe landing spot, but the clouds were so thick it was impossible to see anything more than the occasional mountain peak thrusting through. The engines suddenly cut out, their fuel expended, making the ship not more than a glider. Little time remained until the Ark crashed into the solid ground below.

Randell forced the ship below the cloud layer and spotted a potential landing spot. Deftly maneuvering the Ark, trading speed for altitude, he managed to land the Ark without damage in a snowy patch of flat ground. The crew opened the outer door and the passengers filed off the ship, stepping onto Zyra in the predawn glow.

Snow covered much of the surrounding ground, but in the near distance, green land with odd pink trees was visible. The area grew lighter as sunrise approached and they could see more. A river flowed toward a huge lake or possibly an ocean. From where they landed, they couldn’t tell which it was. Most amazing though, was the sight of a massive preserved city, its slab-sided walls revealed by the initial rays of sunrise of the first day on Zyra.

Matte painting of sunrise on Zyra with pink alien plants, a river, and ruins of an alien city
Sunrise on Zyra (© Paramount Pictures 1951)

Humanity had found a new home.

When Worlds Collide

Motion Picture

Paramount Pictures


This Day in Science Fiction History examines notable events, real and fictional, concerning fantasy and science fiction in various media.


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