Back in 2002, my English teacher in high school handed us a 1- or 2-page short story (definitely not current at the time) and I can't remember the title/author.

The story is about humans crash landing on either Mercury or Venus and quickly evolving/adapting to the shorter days/months/years and living by seconds/minutes/hours.

The story begins with the thoughts of a fetus in the womb, and within moments the being is born and speaking and walking and learning. The "ancients" (or something similar) are teachers and seem to have lived the longest (a couple weeks or so) and describe how it's one's mission in life to cross the ever-changing terrain of the planet. From deathly frozen grounds, quickly thawing and becoming lush land, and again, hust as quickly, turning into fire scorned ground.

The story ends with the protagonist making the trek across the lands to what ends up being a spaceship that had originally crash landed on the planet.

I'm looking for the first (or any) publication of this, as I'd like to find and own a copy.

  • I take it that you are no longer in high school and don't have a copy of the short story anymore? I have to admit that when I first read your post, I was asking, "Why doesn't he just ask his teacher?" Maybe you could reword the first sentence to indicate when you first read the story -- which will help others to identify it. Was it a new story then? Nov 14, 2019 at 1:57
  • Thank you, I'm still learning here. Have since updated the question.. And it looks like it has been answered! Yay! Nov 14, 2019 at 2:14
  • 1
    And thank you for the answer! The page length makes sense now.. As (to my best recollection) it was photocopied and collated making me think it was much shorter! Nov 14, 2019 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


It may be Ray Bradbury's Frost and Fire (1946), a rather famous story that was anthologized in R Is for Rocket among other books. That story is about 20 pages long, not 1 or 2, but it does include the frantic speeding of the life cycle and the freezing and thawing of the landscape within a week. And the protagonists do make it to the spaceship, where life proceeds at the normal pace. Here is an online copy.


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