Norton, Andre – “Mousetrap” (1954)
Mars is an Old West frontier kind of place, full of men prospecting around Terraport for “Star Stones, Gormel Ore, and like knickknacks,” and hoping someday to be able to claim the cash reward for figuring out how to move the “sand monsters” – mysterious statues of a huge variety of horrific aliens (“Spider Man,” “Armed Frog,” “Ant King” and so on) that litter the landscape, but which disintegrate at the slightest touch. “Mousetrap” follows Sam, a down-on-his-luck, drunken prospector who comes into a saloon one night boasting of having discovered a new statue of a beautiful winged woman. Sam is then talked into revealing its location by a local con-man who wants to try out a new goop he’s invented to solidify the statues. This doesn’t go well, and Sam later perfects the goop and tricks the con-man into kicking a native plant, which turns out to be the means by which all of the sand monsters were created. Sam safely transports this newly-created statue out of the wilderness and then, cash award in hand, jets off into the universe to find the planet of angels. This, the only story by a woman this year, features no women characters, only a beautiful statue of one that is inadvertently destroyed by men. Make of that what you will.