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Back in high school in the late 1970s I had a book of short stories we had to read in English class, and one story has stayed with me every since. It was a sci-fi story that was called, I think, "Green Mold", about a space ship that landed on Mars that was slowly being consumed by a form of green mold that was growing on the surfaces of everything and, eventually, the astronauts themselves.

The green mold or fungus starts growing on the outside of the ship and compromising the skin of the spacecraft. It spreads to the inside of the ship when brought in on the boots of the explorers, tiny green specks that are a form of intelligent life itself. When the equipment starts failing they discover it has spread behind the instrument panels, starting with the softer wiring and rubber insulation and soon spreading to the metal itself. As a result all of their instruments no longer work. Eventually, the structure of the ship becomes unsound and the crew has to evacuate to the surface of the planet and find shelter with no means of leaving, no way to contact anyone, and limited supplies to keep them alive. Eventually the story ends when they discover one day that the mold has now begun growing on themselves and they will eventually disappear with no trace in a slow, painful way. It certainly doesn't end on a happy note, and seems to be science fiction horror.

I think the author may have been Russian, but I don't know if it was written in the 50s, 60s, or 70s. Some of the other stories in the book might have been written by Russian authors, but I don't know if that applies to this story or not.

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    IIRC, there was another Asimov story called 'Green patches' which matches what you are describing. I haven't read the story since the 1970s and I doubt that I still have the anthology which contained the story, so I can't be more definite. – No'am Newman Feb 25 at 16:05
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    "Green Patches" isn't close. The "green stuff" doesn't destroy or damage the ship. It doesn't damage people. It causes newly born living things to become part of its all encompassing community. – JRE Feb 25 at 16:11
  • @No'amNewman, I recently reread a lot of the Asimov short stories, Green Patches was a fungal creature, but it didn't dissolve the hull at all, it was a hive mind species which wanted to convert humans into the fold. A single instance got onto the ship and lay waiting until it died on landing. I did think that might be it, but there were several parts that didn't tie up, like the degeneration of the ship itself, or becoming stranded. – Fifth_H0r5eman Feb 25 at 16:12
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    @Fifth_H0r5eman: "Green Patches" was not a fungus. It was a planet of interconnected life forms. It could genetically modify the offspring of any species to make it part of its consciousness. The green patches were a consequence of the genetic manipulation. – JRE Feb 25 at 17:42
  • I don't think it's Green Patches either. There are a couple of questions about Green Patches on the site already: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/84574/… – Organic Marble Feb 25 at 18:15
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As JRE has commented this sounds very similar to Foundation and Earth (1986) by Isaac Asimov. Although the time frame is a bit too new and this is a novel rather than a short story. However, the book is split in to sections/parts so maybe that's why you thought it was an anthology if this is indeed correct.

Part V: Melpomenia

The crew now visit Melpomenia, the third and final Spacer coordinate they have, where the atmosphere has become reduced to a few thousandths of normal atmospheric pressure. Wearing space suits, they enter a library, and find a plaque listing the names and coordinates of all fifty Spacer worlds. On the way back to the ship, they notice a moss has begun to grow around the seals of their space suits, and just in time, surmise that the moss is feeding on minuscule leakages of carbon dioxide. Thus, they are able to eradicate the moss with a blaster and heavy UV-illumination so that no spores are unintentionally carried off the planet. They then plot the Spacer worlds on the ship's map, which form a rough sphere and conclude that the location of Earth must be near to the center of the sphere. This area turns out to have a binary star system.

Wikipedia, Foundation and Earth

  • I don't think it was Foundation earth, the rest of the story doesn't match, and I'm pretty sure it took place on Mars. – Joseph Horodyski Feb 25 at 15:53
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    The question has more details now. Doesn't sound like "Foundation and Earth" anymore. – JRE Feb 25 at 18:44

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