There was a short-story about astronauts who lost in space on lifeless planet.

They tried to grow crops but all attempts failed until the last one buried their bodies into ground.

Those plants started a evolution chain so when the next expedition discovered the planet they were surprised by Earth-like plants and the absolute absence of animals.

I read it in the 1990s, but likely it is a bit older. The storyline itself was self-contained and not related to other stories in book.

There is a chance it was Robert Sheckley but I reviewed his bibliography and haven’t found it yet.


1 Answer 1


That is "Founding Father" by Isaac Asimov.

I have it here in front of me in the short story collection "Buy Jupiter."

The story is from 1965.

You have the basics of the story pretty much correct.

A ship crash-lands on a planet that has a high amount of ammonia in the atmosphere.

Since the astronauts can't leave (and can't call for help),) they explore the planet a bit, and then start trying to get Earth-style plants to grow.

The plants all do poorly and eventually die.

They try again and again.

Eventually the ammonia starts to poison them and the men die, one by one.

The last living astronaut buries the others in the plots where they had been trying to grow Earth plants. That gives the plants the nutrients they needed to get a good start.

At the end, the last one lays down to die among the flourishing plants, dreaming of a day when men might again discover this planet. A planet with Earth type plants and no ammonia.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot @JRE!
    – st78
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 16:27
  • 6
    As happens, I asked a question a few weeks ago. The person who answered me happened to have just read the story I asked about. That caused me to buy a copy of "Buy Jupiter" and read it through - so I had it fresh in memory when you asked about this story.
    – JRE
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 16:35

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