Type ShortStory
Date 1950-12
Tags science fiction, female protagonist

Jaywalker

Marcia McHenry hates space travel--hates that her husband, Jack, the captain of a ferry to the moon, is at risk during spaceflight. After the most recent of a series of arguments about it, he leaves her for good, he says. Realizing she must get him back, Marcia boards his ferry under a false name. She is pregnant, and knows that freefall is fatal to pregnant women. She intends that her husband, the captain of the ferry, be forced to perform a difficult spinning manoeuvre to create artificial gravity and save her, on the theory that "a man grows to love what he has to fight for". The manoeuvre is much more difficult than Marcia realized--as she is informed--but ultimately Jack pulls it off. Their daughter will be born on the moon.

This story may be compared with "The Cold Equations", which has not such a happy ending.

Marcia is presented as basically self-centered. She endangers the lives of every passenger on the ferry because she didn't care enough to think through the dangers of her actions; she had been told the spin manoeuvre was difficult, but ignored it. It's astounding that she is presented as sympathetic; I presume we're meant to excuse it all, as though anyone could expect her to react so foolishly to the possibility of losing her husband. Desperate or no, it's irresponsible.

She is presented as uncurious when Jack is explaining the difficulty of the manoeuvre:

"It's all so dull!” she had flared, and then, "How can I be interested in what some blundering space-jockey did?"

And as childish when demonstrating her lack of awareness:

"Spin ship,” she replied immediately, and looked up at him pertly, like a kindergarten child who knows she has the right answer.

The tagline generalizes from Marcia to all women: "Women may be against progress because it means new pseudo-widowhoods. Space-widowhood, for instance..." The burning question of 1950: why are women against progress? The answer may surprise you...

Name Role
Ross Rocklynne Author

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