Work on a rocket to the moon finds itself thwarted by religious opposition. When an accident at the launch proves deadly, research is driven underground and only when the next mission succeed does science become fashionable again.

This is Asimov’s first sale to John Campbell, and it appeared in the issue of Astounding that launched the Golden Age. (Asimov freely admits, however, that his appearance in that special issue of the magazine is sheer coincidence—Heinlein’s “Lifeline” and A.E. van Vogt’s “Black Destroyer” were both in the same issue and are frankly better stories by previously unpublished authors.)

This is, however, one of Asimov’s best early stories and holds up reasonably well, some forty years after the story takes place. (I always get a kick out of living after my favorite sf stories took place.) The key concept here—that there would be social resistance to scientific progress (the fact that it is religious in nature is relatively trivial)—is unique to Asimov’s story. The style is still a bit primitive, and the idea of a privately-funded, secret project to launch a rocket to the moon seems rather naïve in the days after the Apollo program, and using religious demagogues as villains is a bit obvious and annoyingly stereotypical—but this is nonetheless an excellent story and still worthwhile.

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