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On the Fourth Planet

Jesse F. Bone

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ash;all of which would have to be done without food, since his eye could see no lichen growing upon the shiny metal surface.

The chill of evening had settled on the land. Most of the Folk were already wrapped in their mantles, conserving their energy until the dawn would warm them into life. But Kworn felt no need to estivate. It was warm enough beside the wall.

The air shimmered as it cooled. Microcrystals of ice formed upon the legs of the structure, outlining them in shimmering contrast to the drab shadowy landscape, with its gray-green cover of lichens stippled with the purple balls of the lichen feeders that clung to them. Beyond Kworn and his neighbors, spaced twenty raads apart, the mantled bodies of the Folk stretched in a long single line across the rolling landscape, vanishing into the darkness. Behind this line, a day's travel to the rear, another line of the Folk was following. Behind them was yet another. There were none ahead, for the . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I had to research when this was written, as I found it in an anthology: 1963. This date makes it more remarkable,for its prediction. What I also discovered, was the end image, also absent from the anthology. The image was the surprise ending, without which the story remains a mystery. The image show

An interesting first contact story that doesn’t go very well but one creature learns a lot. I suspect the author had spent a lot of time in the lab looking under the microscope when he wrote this one.