I read a first contact science fiction story in class in 1976 that I found fascinating but cannot find anywhere after many searches. It was perhaps written by Pohl or Asimov or Leinster ? but every first contact short story/story I've looked at from these and other authors doesn't seem to fit.

The story details a first interstellar voyage by a small group of explorers who hear a distress signal from stranded aliens (?asteroid or other body). The captain of the ship eventually meets one of the distressed aliens and exchange glimpses but cannot communicate. I think they were small green with large imploring eyes.

It's a very straightforward "mood" story, and there aren't any funny twists in the part I read anyways (could be from a larger work)...the author really emphasizes the loneliness and void of space and need to communicate and help other very different than oneself. There is also a great deal of emphasis placed upon the helplessness of the crew with regards to the alien's survival as nothing is known about their physiology and time is running out.

The story has a very tragic feel and I thought at the time was very beautifully written. I could have it all reversed with regards to the roles of the aliens and humans...its been a while. If anyone knows where I could find the story. It may not be published except in a journal or textbook, it would be really appreciated.

  • The description sounds more like Bradbury than any of the other authors you mentioned. – Kyle Jones Nov 4 '15 at 23:26
  • Hi Kyle, thanks for the comment. It does sound more like Bradbury style, but haven't found it in published collections so far. Perhaps it was written specially for the textbook, and didn't get wider distribution. – Zack Barkley Nov 4 '15 at 23:30
  • I take it the story does not have a happy ending? How did the Earthlings know it was a distress signal? – user14111 Nov 5 '15 at 0:13
  • I think it was a radio signal distress call. As I remember the story was left hanging as to the ending, but seemed to ask pretty big questions about meaning and nihilism. Perhaps it was just because it was a first chapter. I was pretty young. – Zack Barkley Nov 5 '15 at 0:20
  • If the earthmen can't communicate with the aliens, how were they able to interpret the alien distress signal? Were the aliens sending SOS in Morse code?? – user14111 Nov 5 '15 at 0:37

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