Chapter Sixteen – The Wilderness (May 2003/2034) It first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1952. Two women, Janice Smith and Leonora Holmes, prepare to depart on a rocket to Mars, to find husbands or lovers waiting for them there. Janice muses on the terrors of space, drinks in last memories of the Earth she will soon be leaving, and compares her situation to that of the pioneer women of the 19th century American frontier.
This story only appears in the 1974 ion of The Martian Chronicles by The Heritage Press, the 1979 Bantam Books illustrated trade ion, and the 1997 ion of The Martian Chronicles. In its original form, the story was dated 2003, and this date is consistent with the other stories. As it appears in the 1997 ion, the date (together with all the other dates) has been shifted ahead 31 years, to May 2034.
Chapter Seventeen – Way in the Middle of the Air (June 2003/2034) It first appeared in Other Worlds, July 1950. In an unnamed Southern town, a group of white men learn that all African Americans are planning to emigrate to Mars. Samuel Teece is an obviously racist white man who loudly decries their departure as he watches a great mass of humanity passing his shop porch. He tries to stop several black men from leaving. One man is harassed because of an old, unneeded debt — other black passers-by contribute money to relieve the debt. Teece then tries to keep a younger black man (named “Silly”) from leaving, claiming that his work contract (signed with an “X” on a contract, as it is implied that Silly could not read or write) forbids his departure from Teece’s business. After an argument and a threat to lock him in a shed, some of Teece’s white companions stand up to Teece and force him to let Silly depart with his family.
As he drives off, Silly yells to Teece, “what will you do nights now, Mr. Teece?” Teece realizes that Silly is referring to his nocturnal visits to black homes, destroying houses, and lynching black men. Enraged at Silly’s comment, Teece and his father set off to get him. After giving chase in a car, the road becomes impassable, blocked by the discarded belongings of all the departing African Americans. Teece and his father walk back to the shop, after which the rockets for Mars lift off. Teece, saying that he will be “damned” if he looks at the rockets, sits back in the quiet afternoon, and wonders what he really “will do nights.”
This episode is a poignant depiction of racial prejudice in America. However, it was eliminated from the 2006 William Morrow/Harper Collins, and the 2001 DoubleDay Science Fiction reprinting of The Martian Chronicles.