So I read this short story in the mid to late 90's and I am trying to find it again.

I'm pretty sure I read it in my older sister's English textbook. I think it was included in the text.

From what I remember, humans discover a planet with buildings and plowed fields and plants growing in the fields and no herbivores on the planet, but they can't find any intelligent life. They live on the planet for awhile, start eating some of the plants in the field, but then a guy figures out the plants ARE the intelligent life and that they're in a sort of hibernation/dormant phase. I think he figures this out based on murals on the walls of the buildings. When the plant people "wake up" they reclaim their lost tissues from the people who ate them.

What is the name of this story?

  • Welcome to SFF! Can you take a look at this guide and edit in anything else you may remember? For example, you say you read it as a kid, when was that? Was the book old or new at the time? Also I recommend you take the tour and register your account!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 27, 2018 at 9:58
  • That's it! Thank you so much!
    – Dante
    Jul 27, 2018 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


This is Velvet Fields by Anne McCaffrey and the entire short story can be read here at Lightspeed Magazine

One synopsis is:

First printed in Worlds of If. Reprinted in by editors Roelof Goudriaan, Frank Ludlow, and John Joseph Adams.

When Earth colonists arrive at Zobranoirundisi, the cities are abandoned. The former residents are nowhere to be found on this Eden-like planet of velvet fields. But a biologist discovers that the plants go through various stages of life until they become sentient. The colonists have done irreparable damage and are required to pay whatever reparations the newly born-again, indigenous sentients. They remove the human’s tongues in what seems like a metaphoric gesture. It seems important that the humans do tell their tale.

Additionally, the ISFDB entry.


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