Douglas Stansfield is an astronaut who has been selected to go on the first interstellar mission. The round trip will take forty years so Stansfield will be put in suspended animation for the trip. Right before the flight he meets a girl named Sandra Horn who is working for the space agency. They fall in love on their one and only date and she tells him that her life will be a meaningless exercise without him and when he returns in forty years, she will greet him at the landing.
When Stansfield’s ship returns the mission, controllers see a note to notify Sandra Horn. When the controller asks whether he should check the old age homes his colleague says that she is currently in a cryogenic facility. The base commander meets Sandra when she is revived from suspended animation and gives her the shocking news. Stansfield set his cryogenic unit to revive him very shortly after his launch from Earth. He has aged almost the entire forty-year interval. When Douglas and Sandra meet, she tells him that the age difference won’t matter to her. But he tells her it would matter and he releases her. The base commander tells Stansfield that he is honored to have met a man as selfless as he is.
The very pretty Mariette Hartley plays Sandra and she does a good job of representing the tragic love story that sets up the surprise ending. But anyone who has read a lot of golden age science fiction stories saw this one coming a mile away. Still in its day it was probably a surprise for the audience. B.