For the time travel lovers, I am looking for a book of short stories where one of the stories is about a crew of scientists that travels in time into the future and learns that a disaster has taken place way in the future and they try to determine what really happened and when that happened. As a consequence of this disaster humans have taken an appearance very different from ours—more like monsters in appearance but they are very peaceful in nature and have the disturbing habit of burying themselves alive. They don't speak any of the languages we know today and the scientists. while trying to unbury all the creatures, also try to learn their language in order to communicate and get more information of what happened and when that took place. In the end they manage to communicate with one of the creature and she tells the scientists of two disasters that have taken place.

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    BTW--Short stories often get republish and appear in more than one anthology, so there is no that anyone with the answer read this story in the same anthology as you. Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


That's "The Failed Men" by Brian Aldiss. It's collected in Man in his Time.

Time travelers go to the future and try to help a race of humans who look rather monstrous but are very gentle and unresisting and who have an odd urge to bury themselves alive. The travelers don't understand this apparently suicidal impulse, and even when they manage to translate their language, they only know the words, and can't understand the meaning behind their actions.

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    This is the correct answer but I see that it picked up a "low quality" flag - could you expand a little to help it avoid deletion?
    – user8719
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 13:20
  • Describing which elements of the book match up with the description in the question would go a long way here.
    – phantom42
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:59
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    Don't bow down to the machine. Correct answers are never low quality.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 18:27

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