So my dad told me about a short story he had once read. It must be older like before 1986. It is about two men who traveled through space and found a dead planet. On it was what he calls a super museum. They set it up as a heritage/legacy for those in the universe that were intelligent enough to find it. As a twist it turns out that this planet is actually earth and that the men must have traveled to the future. (Kind of like planet of the apes)

I have found a few topics that looked similar. But it's not resurrection bij a.e van Vogt.(because they know it is earth they are visiting) Although this seems very similar. He also says it is not all the way back from michael Shaara.

Anybody have any idea? If it helps, the story was translated to Dutch and was in a book with other stories as well. I don't know if they were from one author or various. It has been bugging me for years as my dad always told me the story moved him deeply and as I love science fiction I would love to read it. Just found this site so thought to give it a go.thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Assuming you get an answer, will it be possible to ask your father whether it’s the right one?
    – Adamant
    Jan 10, 2017 at 3:38
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    Yeah I can ask him! Asked him about the other two as well which I found on this site haha. But he doesn't remember the name and author as well :(
    – Rienster
    Jan 10, 2017 at 3:41
  • Sorry! Took a while! He confirmed the dead planet! Thanks everyone for helping! And sorry it took a while, I didn't receive notifications so I didn't know I had answers waiting :(
    – Rienster
    Jan 23, 2017 at 22:09

2 Answers 2


My dad told me about a short story he had once read. It must be older like before 1986.

It's not a perfect match, but I believe you're looking for "The Dead Planet", a short story by Edmond Hamilton. It was first published in Startling Stories, Spring 1946, which is available at the Internet Archive. Translated into Dutch as "De Dode Planeet", it appeared in the 1969 anthology Science-Fiction Verhalen.

It is about two men who traveled through space and found a dead planet.

This is the part that doesn't match. The planet is dead all right:

The system ahead did look discouraging for wrecked star explorers. Here in a thin region at the very edge of the galaxy, it centered around a sun that was somber dark red, ancient, dying.

Six worlds circled that smoldering star. We were dropping toward the innermost of the six planets, as the most possibly habitable. But now, we could clearly see that life could not exist on it. It was an airless sphere, sheathed in eternal snow and ice.

But there are three space travelers, not two:

Tharn was at the controls. All three of us had put on our pressure suits in the hope that they might save us if the crash was bad. In the massive metal suits we looked like three queer, fat robots, like three metal globes with jointed mechanical arms and legs.

And they are not exactly "men":

We looked at each other, we three tall bird-men of Rigel, as Dril handed us the glasses of pink sanqua. On Tharn's beaked face, in his green eyes, was an expression that told me we all were thinking of the same thing.

He raised the glass that he held in his talons.

"To that great dead race to whom our galaxy owes all," he said. "We will drink to their world by their name for it. We will drink to Earth."

On it was what he calls a super museum. They set it up as a heritage/legacy for those in the universe that were intelligent enough to find it.

"It annihilated the last of us also. But we had already prepared this buried city, and in it had gathered all that we knew of science and wisdom to be garnered by future ages. Some day new forms of life will rise to civilization in the galaxy, some day explorers from other stars will come here.

"If they are not intelligent enough to make benign use of the powers we have gathered here, our telepathic attacks should frighten them away. But if they are intelligent enough to discern the clues we leave for them, they will understand that all is but hypnotic illusion and will press forward into this tower of our secrets.

"You, who listen to me, have done this. To you, whoever and of whatever future race you may be, we bequeath our wisdom and our power. In this building, and in others throughout the city, you will find all that we have left. Use it wisely for the good of the galaxy and all of its races. And now, from us of the past to you of the future—farewell."

  • Thank you! I will check with my dad and see if this is it, it looks very promising!
    – Rienster
    Jan 23, 2017 at 21:59
  • This is the one! Thanks!
    – Rienster
    Jan 23, 2017 at 22:10
  • You're welcome!
    – user14111
    Jan 23, 2017 at 23:38
  • @user14111 - Nice catch! I know this one, but it didn't even occur to me since I remembered that the astronauts were not human.
    – Otis
    Jan 31, 2017 at 22:21

This might be "Environment" by Chester S. Geier, originally published in the May 1944 issue of Astounding, and the full text of which is available online courtesy of the Internet Archive.

Two explorers do land on a planet described as "almost a second Earth" and which had apparently once held human-like creatures:

Harlan touched ground, joined Gaynor in a tense scrutiny of the design. A procession of strange, lithe beings was pictured in bas-relief around the curving base of the fountain. Their forms were essentially humanoid, possessed of two arms, two legs, and large, well-formed head. Except for an exotic, fawnlike quality about the graceful, parading figures, Gaynor and Harlan might have been gazing at a depiction of garlanded, Terrestrial youths and maidens.

The planet features not quite a museum but a seemingly-abandoned city. Among the buildings are multiple abandoned spaceships, including a previous colony ship from the protagonists' planet:

The four ships which Gaynor and Harlan had found had two things in common. Each had been built by a different humanoid people, and each was completely deserted. Other than this, there was no basis of comparison between them. Each was separate and distinct, unique in its alienness. Even the Ark, long outmoded, seemed strange.

The two explorers spend time poking about the ruins, encountering technology which they don't understand. They get the idea that the whole city is a kind of primer, and start at one end to try to understand. They quickly make progress:

Instruction followed application, and in a very few days again, Gaynor and Harlan moved on. Thus they went, from unit to unit, and always the wall painting pointed out the way...

The machines grew larger, more intricate, ever more difficult of solution. Each was a new test upon the growing knowledge of Gaynor and Harlan. And each test was harder than the last, for the wall paintings no longer pointed out the way, but merely hinted now.

As they reach the end of the city, much altered by what they have learned and learned to do, the two explorers transcend human existence and become a kind of crystalline life form that they had seen in the area when they first arrived. Encouraging this transformation is the entire point of the city. The last line is:

A perfect environment, the city. Ideal for the inquisitive humanoid.

ISFDB doesn't list a Dutch translation, and it doesn't actually turn out to be Earth, but it seemed like a possible match.

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