I read this sci-fi story sometime in the 80's (I think). To expand on above, a B&B or small hotel owner takes in a group of guests. They appear young and boisterous party folk, but there is something unusual about them that he can't place. I think he develops a romantic interest in one of the females, but that seems to cause issues within the group. More people arrive, and they all seem to be waiting for certain time. When the time arrives, he realizes the city has been hit by an asteroid or meteor.

The story ends with almost all but one of the tourists gone. The authorities blowing up buildings to prevent fires and the spread of a plague, and the proprietor himself feeling extremely ill. The lone individual who stayed behind is apparently an artist who documents the history of human tragedy. In particular, it is noted that the artist received applause in part due to the images he presented, as those were very haunting, notably the sick man (the proprietor).

I believe there was a follow-up story, which viewed the group from the perspective of another woman, who may have been interested in a man from the same group.

  • 1
    Your story is "Vintage Season" as suggested in the answer byMark Olson. You can read it at the Internet Arciive: archive.org/stream/Astounding_v38n01_1946-09_cape1736#page/n53/…
    – user14111
    Jul 8, 2018 at 23:02
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    The follow-up story you are referring to is In Another Country by Robert Silverberg.
    – Ubik
    Jul 8, 2018 at 23:12
  • @user14111 Thanks for finding the source. I need to remember that that resource is there.
    – Mark Olson
    Jul 9, 2018 at 2:21
  • @user14111 thanks for bringing this source to life for me! Never knew it existed.
    – Gio
    Aug 10, 2018 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


This is "Vintage Season" by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner. It's a perfect fit to your description in every respect.

Oliver Wilson is renting an old mansion to three vacationers for the month of May. He wants to get rid of them so he can sell the house to someone who has offered him three times its value, provided the buyer can move in during May. His fiancée, Sue, insists that he arrange for them to leave, so that he can sell the house, giving them enough money for their impending marriage.

The tenants are a man, Omerie Sancisco, and two women, Klia and Kleph Sancisco. They fascinate Oliver with the perfection of their appearance and manners, their strange connoisseur's attitude to everything, and their secretiveness about their origin and about their insistence on that house at that time. Oliver's half-hearted attempts to evict them founder when he becomes attracted to Kleph. The mystery deepens with remarks she lets slip, with the unspectacular but advanced technology of things she has in her room—including a recorded "symphonia" that engages all the senses with imagery of historical disasters—and with the appearance of the would-be buyers, a couple from the same country, who plant a "subsonic" in the house intended to drive the residents out.


At the end of May, more time travelers visit the house. A meteorite lands nearby, destroying buildings and starting fires—the "spectacle" that the time travelers wanted to end their visit with. Oliver's house survives, as the visitors had already known it would.


In a short scene set in the future, the final version of Cenbe's symphonia is performed, including a powerful image of what is apparently Oliver's face in the "emotional crisis" induced by his conversation with Cenbe.

Oliver writes down a warning about the time travelers, which he hopes will change history. However, he dies of a new plague, apparently brought to Earth by the meteor. The house and the unread message are destroyed in a futile effort at quarantine.


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