Here are things that you may need to know:

  1. I first read this in an anthology which was used for a college class ca. 1995.

  2. I remember that the cover was a picture of a starscape; nothing fancy, just a background of black with white stars. And the anthology title, too, was on there, I'm sure.

  3. This anthology also had the story of "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king". Aldous Huxley?

The plot goes something like this: A spaceman from Earth (astronaut) experiences a collision and needs to make repairs. But he's by himself (it is a "he"), and he needs to time things. To do this, he starts counting in seconds and then does quick math to determine different timers. Then he needs to keep counting to track numerous things, like objects, processes, and time. He gets to a point where he realizes after a while that he can't stop counting. It's automatic and unending. The story goes on to describe the consequences, good and bad (and terrible) of his ability to do this.

Anybody remember anything like this? Thanks for your time.

Edit 1: The story I read was in English.

Edit 2: I do not know the original publication date. No clue actually, other than before 1995.

Edit 3: I do not recall anything about the author's name or gender. Sorry.

Edit 4: Trying to recall, but I remember that the astronaut returns to Earth and talks with a person from the ground crew involved in the mission; the Director, maybe. And I think it is the same person that talked to the protagonist right after the collision at the beginning of the story.

  • Welcome to SFF.SE Scotttobeme! Your question seems to have sufficient details, but you still might want to take a look at this guide.
    – Voronwé
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 7:32
  • Thanks for the info. Much of that will help. Brb, need to edit my post! Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 7:44

1 Answer 1


The querant has indicated that while this book has the cover they were thinking of and contains the story based on the saying "in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king", it doesn't seem to have the story they were looking for.

SFRA Anthology

This might be Science Fiction: The Science Fiction Research Association Anthology, published in 1988.

cover of the book

The story about "in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king", is "The Country of the Blind" by H.G. Wells. It has been collected many times, but this collection has the cover you remember.

The story you're looking for might be "Common Time" by James Blish.
It sees a protagonist waking up from suspended animation. His personal time is out of sync with the ship's time, due to relativistic effects. He does indeed count to keep time, but I don't think he can't stop counting afterwards.


The full list of contents:

  • "The Birthmark" (1843); short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • "The Star" (1897); short story by H. G. Wells
  • The Country of the Blind (1904); novelette by H. G. Wells
  • The Machine Stops (1909); novelette by E. M. Forster
  • A Martian Odyssey (1934); novelette by Stanley G. Weinbaum
  • Who Goes There? (1938); novella by John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • Nightfall (1941); novelette by Isaac Asimov
  • No Woman Born (1944); novelette by C. L. Moore
  • Thunder and Roses (1947); novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
  • Private Eye (1950); novelette by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
  • "There Will Come Soft Rains" (1950); short story by Ray Bradbury
  • "The Sentinel" (1951); short story by Arthur C. Clarke
  • "Common Time" (1953); short story by James Blish
  • "The Game of Rat and Dragon" (1955); short story by Cordwainer Smith
  • "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" (1958); short story by Alfred Bester
  • Flowers for Algernon (1959); novelette by Daniel Keyes
  • A Rose for Ecclesiastes (1963); novelette by Roger Zelazny
  • "Driftglass" (1967); short story by Samuel R. Delany
  • Faith of Our Fathers (1967); novelette by Philip K. Dick
  • "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" (1967); short story by Harlan Ellison
  • Nine Lives (1969); novelette by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • "When It Changed" (1972); short story by Joanna Russ
  • Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand (1973); novelette by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • Houston, Houston, Do You Read? (1976); novella by James Tiptree, Jr.
  • Options (1979); novelette by John Varley
  • Bloodchild (1984); novelette by Octavia E. Butler
  • That's DEFINITELY the cover of the collection from that course. Great Googly Moogly, how did you find that so quickly? I am in your debt! Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 8:00
  • 1
    @Scotttobeme Through "Country of the Blind". I searched for the expression "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king" book (or perhaps it was story) and landed on the story by H.G. Wells (not Huxley). I went to its ISFDb entry and went through the books it was collected in that were not collections of only Wells stories. Then I picked one in the appropriate date range (pre-1995 but not too long before that) and looked for its cover. Only thing left to do is find the actual story you're looking for.
    – SQB
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 8:08
  • Okay, so that's the book... but after searching for each title, and looking through synopses of them, I did not find any stories that matched my recollection of the one I mentioned. The closest was "Common Time" by James Blish, and while the summary had elements that might have been similar, the conclusion was nothing like what I remembered. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 9:33
  • @Scotttobeme it's very well possible that you've combined memories here. Perhaps it was a story you read around the same time.
    – SQB
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 9:34
  • 1
    @Scotttobeme You can find a scan of the story online here: archive.org/stream/…
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 9:55

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