MacDonald, John D. – “Flaw” (1949)
A woman protagonist! The story is about her relationship with her fiance, but nonetheless. The editors introduce this as part of a trend of stories questioning “the basic principles of the Newton-Einstein universe,” and it is pretty much just an idea piece. The protagonist was a secretary who fell in love with an “Air Corps volunteer” against her better judgment: “You don’t give your heart to a man who soars up at the tip of a comet plume. But I did.” Words to live by. Onboard Destiny I, the first atomic-drive spaceship, the fiance sets out to find a new frontier-planet as a respite from the mistakes of the Earth. A meteor hits some time before the ship is due to return, and our protagonist makes another of those magical leaps of logic. She recognizes the meteor as the ruby from her fiance’s ring (due to a singular flaw at its heart) and understands that the solar system is constantly shrinking, a process that no longer affected the ship while it was in space, which returned monstrously over-sized – as evidenced by the ruby, now the size of a house. Seeking to avoid crushing the Earth, the ship somehow crashed and exploded. Knowing that humanity is now headed for unavoidable doom on Earth with no hope of escaping to a new planet, the protagonist loses her grip on sanity and waits for the end.