X Minus One premiered in April 1955 on NBC and ran until January 1958. Like its predecessor series, Dimension X, X Minus One featured stories by the greatest names in modern science fiction: Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, Robert Bloch, and many more.
The characters are -to be polite - out of date. (Yeah, ironic in science fiction, isn't it?) it is worth remembering, though, that choice, sacrifice, and unavoidable death are with us today. That's why, despite its weaknesses, this story still resonates.
Barton is a pilot of an EDS, Emergency Dispatch Ship. These are specialized rescue units used to make the emergency trips when and where no one else can. Barton has been assigned to deliver life-saving serum to a work force of 16 men who have already become ill. Time is of the essence and the trip is planned with precise detail to make the mission successful.
As his ship settles into its journey Barton notices an unexpected heat signature. He discovers a stow-away who turns out to be the lovely wife of one of the men on the planet. The couple have been apart for a number of years and she snuck on board to make a surprise visit. How can Barton handle this when the trip doesn’t factor in another person?
This is a wonderfully engaging and ironic, if sad, short story. I saw the dilemma and appreciated Barton’s compassion. The solutions are limited. I held my breath a bit as I waited to see what would happen.