I read this in the past 3 years, but I'm sure it was in an old (1950s most likely) pulp magazine that I read once I discovered that the Internet Archive had hundreds of them.

The story concerns either explorers or tourists. (I think I may be conflating 2 stories.) At least there are 2 or more characters, 1 being more experienced than the other(s).

They land on a planet where some/many of the species incorporate silica (glass) in their structure. One character is attracted to a field of low plants whose chiming is very pleasant, maybe even hypnotic. The more experienced one stops him/her just before he/she walks into the plants, pointing out the razor-sharp edges of the plants and the bones scattered among them.

There may have been an illustration accompanying the story.

  • 1
    Almost certainly a dupe of; Story about a trip to a Valley of Sound - ""We call this place the Valley of the Singing Bells," I said heavily. "A better name would be the Valley of Death." For a long moment she stared at the bleached bones.*
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2020 at 16:48
  • Possibly also related to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/221526/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 14, 2020 at 16:53
  • @Valorum NOT a duplicate, the answer on the target is not accepted.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 14, 2020 at 16:58
  • @FuzzyBoots That question made me think of this story; it turns out to be less a match than I was hoping.
    – DavidW
    Jan 14, 2020 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


This is almost certainly "The Bells of Acheron" (1957) by E. C. Tubb. It was first published in Science Fantasy, April 1957 which given your description is probably where you read it also. This excerpt from the story copied from this answer seems to match very well.

"Laura!" I chased after her, caught her, slapped her face. Her eyes opened and shock twisted her mouth. I talked fast and loud, trying to drown the rising music, fighting the desire to concentrate and listen.

"It isn't real. It's illusion, all of it." I held her close to me, tightly so as to prevent any sudden movement. "Your husband?"

"You know?" Her eyes searched my face. "You do know. the rumors were true. The dead do live here, I know they do."

"No." I searched for words to destroy her dream. I had heard them all, a dozen times and more from Holman and others, but still they came hard. "It's a trick of the mind," I said. "You come here and you listen to all the sounds that ever were and from them you pick the ones you want most to hear. The prattle of a dead child, a husband's voice, the laughter and tears of those who are gone. The mind is a peculiar thing, Laura. It can take sounds and fit them with words and make them seem different to what they really are."

"I spoke to him," she said. "And he answered me. He is here, I know it."

"He is not here." I gripped her tighter as she tried to move, knowing that one false step and we would both topple into the valley. "You close your eyes and concentrate and you hear the voice you want to hear. You speak and it answers but all the time you are talking to yourself. You speak and your brain answers, picking words and tones from the sound of the Bells. It is an illusion, less real than a photograph or a recording. The words you hear are from your own memory."

"It was my husband," she insisted. "He was calling to me. I must go to him."

"You can't!" I sweated at the thought of what would happen if she broke away. "Listen to me. You heard his voice or thought that you did and, with your eyes closed, you began to walk toward the sound. But that sound came from the bushes." I shook her. "Do you understand? The bushes!"

She didn't understand.

"Silicon," I said "Leaves like razors. The valley is covered with they and the ground falls sharply away. Two more steps and you would have thrown yourself among them." I gripped her shoulders and turned her so as to face the valley. "There is a good reason why this place is out of bounds. Too many people act as you acted, believe as you believed." I pointed to where something white gleamed among the pale green vegetation. "We call this place the Valley of the Singing Bells," I said heavily. "A better name would be the Valley of Death."

For a long moment she stared at the bleached bones.

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