Fiorello Bodoni, a poor junkyard owner, has managed to save $3,000 to fulfill his lifelong dream of sending one member of his family on a trip to outer space. The family, however, finds it impossible to choose who will go because those left behind will inevitably envy the chosen one for the rest of their lives. Bodoni instead uses the money to build a replica rocket from an old mock-up, and sets up a 3D theater inside the cabin and convinces the children they are actually going through space.
The British edition, first published in 1952 by Hart-Davis omits The Rocket Man, The Fire Balloons, The Exiles and The Concrete Mixer, and adds Usher II from The Martian Chronicles and The Playground from The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
An edition published in 2001 by William Morrow omits The Fire Balloons and adds The Illustrated Man to the end of the book.
Children across the country are deeply involved in an exciting game they call ‘Invasion’. Their parents think it is cute until it turns out that the invasion is real and aliens are using the children to help them get control of Earth.
A rocket expedition from Earth lands on an uncharted planet to be greeted by a seemingly empty city. As the humans begin to explore, they realize that the city is not as empty as it seems. The city was waiting for the arrival of humans; the contingency plan of a long dead civilization, put in place to take revenge upon humanity after their culture was wiped out with biological weapons by humans long before recorded history. Once the city captures and kills the human astronauts, the humans’ corpses are used as automations to finalize the city’s creators’ revenge; a biological attack on the Earth.
A man attempts to escape his marriage by replacing himself with a robot to fool his wife into thinking he hasn’t left and tells a friend about it. The man comes back and tells the robot to go back into the box, and the robot disobeys him saying he has fallen in love with the wife. The robot then proceeds to put the man in the box and goes to visit the wife.
A reluctant Martian soldier is forced to join the army as they prepare to invade Earth. However, when they arrive, they are welcomed by a world at peace, full of people who are curious rather than aggressive. The protagonist meets a movie director, and it becomes clear that the people of Earth have planned to exploit the Martians for financial gain. He tries to escape back to Mars, but is run over by a car and killed.
This story takes place on Mars, which is used as a quarantine for people with deadly illnesses. One day, the planet is visited by a young man of eighteen who has the ability to perform thought transference and telepathy. The exiles on the planet are thrilled with his ability and a violent fight breaks out over who will get to spend the most time with their visitor and enjoy the illusionary paradises he can transmit. In the struggle, the young man is killed and the escape he provided is lost forever.
A couple from the future tires of the war in their modern lives, so they go on a vacation to the more serene past in an attempt to escape with the help of a company called Travel in Time, Inc. They go to Mexico in 1938, but are pursued by a government agent who forces them to come back to 2155.