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Just wondered if anybody would be able to identify an old sci-fi short story roughly from the 80s, in which there was a soldier on a battlefield who dived into a bomb crater for protection, where he found 5 or 6 silver cylinders which turned out to be tiny alien craft.

He eventually realises they are aliens and tries to save them using notes held up to the ships. In the end it turns out he is about to be blown to bits and the alien ships use a force field to protect him from the advancing artillery.

That's roughly the way I remember it from back then. It was part of a collection of short stories I had in hard cover format, of which I can't remember the title anymore.

  • The size of the alien ships — and their use of force fields — makes them resemble drones (small, mobile A.I.s) from Iain M. Banks' Culture series. Their action on the battlefield sounds like a Special Circumstances recruitment operation. – Gaultheria Apr 24 at 20:16

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