I want to identify a short story that involves humans using a machine to turn themselves into the native creatures (lizard-like) on another planet, maybe Venus. The turned humans go off into the grey and stormy surroundings, but never report back. The story ends with the narrator transforming and discovering that the native lifeforms see the planet in all its beauty, colors and sound organized by their brains.

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    This is "Desertion" by Clifford Simak. It has been identified before on this site, e.g. here. It has been reprinted a bunch of times. You can read it for free at the Internet Archive.
    – user14111
    Jul 15, 2017 at 4:37
  • By the way the planet is Jupiter. If this is the story you were looking for please post a comment to let us know. If "Desertion" is not the right story, please try to remember some more details and add them to your question.
    – user14111
    Jul 15, 2017 at 4:41
  • Four men, two by two, had gone into the howling maelstrom that was Jupiter and had not returned. They had walked into the keening gale — or rather, they had loped, bellies low against the ground, wet sides gleaming in the rain. For they did not go in the shape of men.
    – user14111
    Jul 15, 2017 at 4:50
  • John: Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange.  If user14111 is correct, the following is moot (for now), but please be advised that we prefer story-identification questions to have more information.  Identifying it as a short story (rather than a novel or a series) is helpful.  It could also be helpful if you remembered whether you read it in a hardcover or paperback anthology or collection of short stories, or in a newsstand magazine such as Analog or Asimov’s or Omni?  What country and language did you read it in?  Do you remember anything about the cover? … (Cont’d) Jul 15, 2017 at 4:57
  • (Cont’d) …  Male or female author?  Well known or unknown?  When did you read this story?  (Please try to give an (approximate) date range.)  How old was it then?  There are thousands of books, anthologies, collections, and magazines to go through, so anything that narrows it down will be helpful. Please do not respond in comments; edit your question to make it more complete.  You may be interested in checking out our guidance on asking good story-ID questions. Jul 15, 2017 at 4:57

1 Answer 1


Ok, well I'm going to answer what we've all been pretty sure about...

The story you're looking for is "Desertion" by Clifford D. Simak.

A later tale tells of a research station on the surface of Jupiter. (This story, first published as Desertion in 1944, was one of the first stories about pantropy.) Simak's version of Jupiter is a cold, windswept, and corrosive hell where only advanced technology allows the station to exist at all. A scientist is accompanied by Towser, his tired and flea-bitten old dog. But there is a problem. Men permanently transformed to survive unaided on Jupiter's surface leave the station to gather data and inexplicably fail to return. Finally, the scientist transforms himself and his canine companion into the seal-like beings that can survive the surface. They leave the station in their new form and experience Jupiter as a paradise. Towser's fleas and irritations are gone and he is able to talk telepathically to his former master. Like the previously transformed station personnel, the scientist decides never to return.

(from Wikipedia)

It should be noted that, while "Desertion" can be found in many anthologies out there (I first read it in The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF) It is a part of Simak's own anthology City (1952), which uses "Desertion" as part of an overarching story about the slow, voluntary decline of the human race. I would recommend you give the whole anthology a read, though of course the story can be read alone without problems.

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    THANK YOU!!! I have been trying to find the name of this story since 1979 when I read it in 8th grade in an English book that was lying around the classroom. now I should be able to track down the name of the book which had several other good stories. FYI - this was not assigned, and I was reading it when I was supposed to be doing something else.
    – Dan
    Mar 14 at 23:35

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