This story was illustrated on the cover of a sci-fi magazine in the 60s. The illustration shows 2 astronauts in NASA Gemini-style space suits. They are struggling as their feet grow roots and anchor them to the ground and their arms sprout tree limbs.

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    Can you recall anything about the plot of the story?
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 17:53
  • I'm afraid not, sorry.
    – billr
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 18:58
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    I recall something similar, told from the point of view of a young native "person" on the planet. The culture is primitive/subsistence level and during the rainy season they have a taboo against stepping on bare ground. The young native does this accidentally and immediately sprouts roots and becomes a tree. In the last seconds of conscious thought he realizes this is his species' destiny, and the taboo was devised by the "sentient" lifecycle phase to prevent the conversion. This may not be the same story as I don't recall any astronauts visiting. That's all I remember. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 22:16
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    @JimGarrison You're probably thinking of Katherine MacLean's "Unhuman Sacrifice" which was the answer to this old question. The story is available at the Internet Archive, click here for download options.
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


Are you thinking of this cover

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by artist Robert Adragna (www.robertadragna.com) from Fantastic Stories of Imagination, December 1962? There are three astronauts instead of two, and their suits don't look all that much like Gemini space suits, but they are definitely "struggling as their feet grow roots and anchor them to the ground and their arms sprout tree limbs."

The picture illustrates the short story "Cocoon" by Keith Laumer, which you can read at the Internet Archive (click here for download options). The illustration is symbolic; there is no new planet in the story, no space suits, no astronauts, no tree roots or branches growing from people.

The same painting was later used for the cover of Transformations: The Story of the Science Fiction Magazines from 1950 to 1970 by Mike Ashley.

  • Good show sir! I thought this one would go un-answered but I think you nailed it. Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 11:12
  • I hope the OP comes back and lets us know, one way or the other.
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 11:41

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