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About 5 years ago someone emailed me a story in pdf form. I can’t find it or remember the title but would love to read it again.

The story (what I remember!) humans were sent to a planet to observe/study the evolution of the planet and its creatures. The scientists were put to sleep for thousands of years, would wake up and document what they saw before going back to sleep. There were shifts of single scientists. One scientist realized the small creatures they encountered were intelligent and rather than watch them go extinct, chooses not to go to sleep but joins them to die.

I’m sure I’m messing that up. Any help would be appreciated!

  • Perhaps a look at this guide would further jog your memory. – Politank-Z Jan 1 '18 at 3:12
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    Why did the scientists have to sleep for thousands of years on a strange planet? Why not send a new team of scientists every few thousand years to make observations and report back? Did the first team of scientists want that badly to hog all the glory for themselves? – user14111 Jan 1 '18 at 3:32
  • I don’t remember well enough why there wasn’t new teams sent. There was definitely more to the story. I just can’t remember as much as I’d like. – Tmoney Jan 1 '18 at 5:29
  • There is a minor subplot that fits the title (but not the details) in Vinge's Across Realtime. – dmckee Jan 1 '18 at 6:53
  • Was this an old story? The theme of scientists going into suspended animation to move forward in time was popular during the golden age and earlier. – John Rennie Jan 1 '18 at 11:18
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I think you are remembering Roger Zelazny's "The Keys to December", with some differences, but the kernel of the story matches.

A gene-altered group of humans obtains a planet that they plan to terraform to fit their new requirements. The process takes tens of thousands of years, so they use cold-sleep to pass the time, waking up at intervals. During the intervals, the protagonist discovers that the terraforming process is forcing some of the native creatures to evolve rapidly and they are becoming sentient. But if the process runs to completion, it will wipe them out...

He tries to get the group to stop the process, fails, and as you say, joins the creatures to die.

  • That’s it!!! I was definitely off a bit. Thank you. – Tmoney Jan 1 '18 at 16:07
  • Thanks. If this is the story you were looking for, please accept the answer by clicking the gray checkmark beside it. – Organic Marble Jan 1 '18 at 17:10

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