“The Hated,” Paul Flehr (Frederik Pohl), 1958 — Byron, an astronaut, has returned from his mission to Mars and is attempting to re-acclimate to civilian life. One of the restrictions on his pension stipulates that he must stay out of geographical regions afforded to his former fellow astronauts, as close quarters during the long trip drove them to hate each other. Any memory of them, even a similar nervous cough or sneeze, sets him off, causes him to get the shakes.
He’s not supposed to be in New Jersey, but he goes there anyway, to find someone he calls Chowderhead. He finds Chowderhead in a bar and flies into a rage, attacks him. He suddenly snaps back to reality and finds himself in a mental ward. The doctor tells him he’s doing better now–it took fewer hours to come out of “this one.” The doctor informs him that his companions aren’t doing as well. When the doctor leaves, he dips back into his fantasies of delicious violence and dreams of the day of his release.
Comments: Themes of war, veterans, privacy, space. Perhaps an analogy for post-traumatic stress disorder. Read in The Fourth Galaxy Reader. Text at Project Gutenberg.
Author: Wikipedia: “Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (born November 26, 1919) is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years — from his first published work, “Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna” (1937), to his most recent novel, All the Lives He Led (2011).”