The news this week that a wealthy space tourist wants to send a man and woman on a 501-day trip in space toward Mars, immediately reminded me of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, The Long Morrow.
The 1964 episode was about an astronaut about to embark on a 40-year mission to a planetary system 141 light years from Earth. He will be put in suspended animation. He falls in love with a colleague before he leaves.
While he is gone, she has herself placed in suspended animation so they will be the same age upon his return. He, meanwhile, has decided not to put himself in suspended animation. The voyage goes forth and 40 years pass.
When he exits the spacecraft, she greets him, a younger woman still. He is 40 years older. They do not live happily ever after.
The episode does not explain what the man ate or drank or passed the time in those 40 years. Details, details.
But I remember being haunted by the episode, even as a kid, especially the acute loneliness the man must have felt. And couldn't the woman have stayed with him just a little while?
Rod Serling, the writer and developer of Twilight Zone, was a genius. His genius remembered this week, 49 years after The Long Morrow aired on black and white television in my childhood living room.
(S-R archives photo of Rod Serling)