I read this book years ago at school, or some of it, and I'm wondering what it was.
A space mission (to somewhere in the Solar System - I'm thinking Venus) had unwittingly brought back spores of a terrible grey fungus. The fungus spread at a terrifying rate, it ate a whole town, smothering everything in a thick grey blanket, and the town was sealed off to prevent it spreading.

The main characters were taken to see this place, all wearing spacesuits to keep the fungus out. The suits were made to be fireproof and before they left the dead town, the guards ran flamethrowers over them as that was the only sure way of killing the spores. I remember that while they had their helmets on they could only communicate by writing on slates and holding them up.

I think the main characters were astronauts who were being asked to go back to Venus (if it was Venus) and find out what kept the fungus from overrunning Venus so they could use that to get rid of it on Earth.

There was, I think, a sequel where the same astronauts went to Mars and there encountered disembodied minds, the last remnants of the Martians, and it was very hard for them to outwit these creatures because they could read their minds and know what they were planning before they started.

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    When were you in school, if I may ask? You could be a 20-year-old human or a 3000-year-old vampire, and we wouldn't know. – Stormblessed Jun 6 '19 at 3:58
  • Didn't feel like telling :-) and I thought what I had was specific enough that it'd be identifiable without that, if anyone was there that HAD seen the book. I had the impression it was quite an old one when I read it, anyway, which it turns out was right. (I should perhaps have said that. Anyway, it worked.) – A. B. Jun 7 '19 at 14:13
  • Ok, it's just nice to have a year it can't be any newer than to ensure that an answer could be correct. – Stormblessed Jun 7 '19 at 14:48
  • see also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/99305/… (about the series as a whole) – Otis Jun 10 '19 at 12:45

Expedition Venus by Hugh Walter

An unmanned probe returning from Venus crashes in the African desert; a Venusian spore on board thrives in its new environment; a grey mould quickly spreading and killing all it touches. An urgent manned mission to Venus is launched from Lunaville, the now permanent Moon base. Chris Godfrey, Morrey Kant, Serge Smyslov, Tony Hale and Pierre a scientist are sent to try and discover what limits the mould's growth in its natural environment. The plan is to collect samples from the Venusian atmosphere but in the end a forced landing is required...

Found by searching for science fiction novel venus grey fungus. It's the fifth in the Chris Godfrey of U.N.E.X.A. series.

The sixth book, Destination Mars involved disembodied Martians.

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  • Tony Hale? “I’M A MONSTERRRRRRRR!” – Paul D. Waite Jun 6 '19 at 7:45
  • VERY difficult to find copies of most of the books in this series at a reasonable price :( – Martin Goldsack Jun 6 '19 at 8:45
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    That was very quick! I did do some searching but using different search terms - I think it was something like "Book, Venus, fungus, astronauts, flamethrower" - which didn't work. (Yours make more sense when I look at them now but I was doing it late at night and a bit gormless.) Never realised there were SIX of them, either. Thanks! Mystery solved! – A. B. Jun 7 '19 at 14:17

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