Looking for the title and author of a short story, description follows...

Two men, possibly cadets in some sort of space force or army but my memory is not so clear are lost in the wilderness on an alien planet. They think they can survive because the weather is good and there is lots of plant life and vegetation but the prettier the life form the more deadly it is.

Specifically, I recall a scene where one of the characters picks a flower and sniffs it, partly to show he is not scared at being lost, partly to show he is not sure at being menaced by every life form the pair encounter. The scent or pollen he inhales triggers something approximating an asthma attack.

Towards the end of the story the pair encounter a gigantic serpent/snake like creature that ultimately protects them and they start to understand that on this planet the more beautiful a creature or plant looks the more likely it into be deadly.

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    A lot of information, but more detail could help: When did you read the story, and did it seem new or old then? Was it in an anthology, a magazine or online? Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


It's a bit of a stretch because I only have my memory of this short story to go on and it was many years ago that I read it, but could it be "A Walk in the Woods" by David Campton?

This story appeared in a couple of anthologies in the late 70s, early 80s. I recall there were two humans on an alien world and they venture out into the "woods" of the local surrounds where they encounter various lifeforms. One example are beautiful butterfly-like creatures that devour a larger beast like piranha, towards the end of the story the humans encounter a large hideous looking creature that they initially assume to be hostile but it eventually curls around them to protect them as they sleep. There was a definite moral to the story about judging by appearances, i.e. the monster-like creature was actually the nice one.

I don't remember a part about a flower, but as I say it was a long time ago.

  • Thank you! Pretty sure that is it. I followed the link you provided and the anthology Space 3 is very very familiar, in particular the story that follows A Walk In the Woods called Scarbo brings back lots of memories.
    – skyjack
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 22:16

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