Peril Orbit by C.J. Wedlake appeared in the Summer 1949 Issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.
If Payne needed to fill up a couple of pages, he picked the right piece to do it with.
Peril Orbit is a (very) short story of a one man craft that had attempted to use the Sun to slingshot from Earth to Venus when something went wrong, and he got stuck in a decaying solar orbit.
If he can’t figure something out, Jim MacDonald is going to burn up in the Sun, and the story begins with him in already desperate straits—his interior cabin temp is pushing 140 degrees, the sunward portion of his ship is heated to near plasticity, and none of his calculations show that he’ll be able to break the slowly tightening orbit with his fuel all spent! MacDonald finds himself torn between putting a bullet in his head or riding out his painful immolation because Astronauts don’t take the easy way out when a vaporized bit of jettisoned piss knocks him into steeper orbit and gives him an idea…
There’s not a lot to say about this one, other than it was tightly written and a nice palate cleanser after The Starbusters.
Plus, the illustration for it is highly memable.
I don’t know if C.J. Wedlake was a pseud or if he just never had any other stories published.
That’s a nice, tight little read. Probably an eye opener for its day, but the solution is easily guessed for those of us steeped in decades of stories that revolve (heh) around orbital mechanics.
Poul Andersen did a similar gag-story about guys who needed get from one asteroid to another and jury rigged a beer-powered rocket. It was cute, but obviously lacked the drama and suspense of this precursor.
The image alone makes me want to read this.