Short Story #29: The Hated by Frederik Pohl

Title: The Hated 

Author: Frederik Pohl

Short Story #29 out of 365

Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)

Date Read: 1/21/2014
Source:   Published in Galaxy Science Fiction January 1958, available at the Gutenberg Project site as well as a free ebook on Amazon.
Cover - Galaxy Science Fiction - January 1958


Byron was among a handful of six people who visited Mars.  But what they don't tell you about going to Mars is that you have to be programmed to not kill your team because you are crammed together for nine months in a very small space.  When you return to Earth, you are sectioned to different parts of the country so that you don't encounter one another.  Byron is at a bar across the river in New Jersey where he's telling this woman about his adventures as an astronaut when he hears a sneeze that he recognizes and looks for another crew member in the bar.  He breaks a bottle and starts to attack the other crew member when he awakes with a doctor nearby.  Byron remembers that he is being re-trained to enter society in a way that won't have him trying to kill his teammates.  The doctor explains that he's making great progress according to his records and Byron agrees.  However, Byron reveals in the last sentence that he's dying to get out of the office so he can go kill his former teammates.


This is definitely a fun story to read and to reflect on.  I haven't read much of Pohl but this certainly grabbed my interest.  It had a bit flavor of noir to it with the protagonist's voice and attitude and some elements of Philip K. Dick with the programming and system of avoidance.  It's a short story but even more so, it moves at a clipped pace--it's also fun to read aloud.  

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