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I remember very little from this short story, except that someone demonstrated a new and very deadly poison on Kangaroo Island, Australia by dumping a bucket of the green stuff in the center of the island. Everything on the island, plant and animal alike, died, and the threat was duly noted; the death ended at the shore. I've tried to remember more, but that's all I can be sure of. In real life, Kangaroo Island is Australia's third largest island at 4,405 km2 (1,701 sq mi) and is known for its wildlife refuges.

The story was in English, published probably before 1970 in an anthology.

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    Aug 16, 2020 at 16:00

1 Answer 1

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Test-Tube Terror by Robert Standish.

I read it in an SF anthology e-book of dubious legality so I won't link the details here. Apart from that the story seems to have been published only in anthologies related to the Saturday Evening Post.

The protagonist is Mark Harrowby and he has two scientist friends Giselle (the love interest) and her brother Pierre. Pierre contacts Mark one day and asks:

What would you say, Mark,” Pierre asked abruptly, “if I told you that it lies in my power now—today—to destroy every blade of grass in the world?”

The destructive agent is the green goo that they test on Kangaroo Island

“We first walked right round the island to make sure nobody was living there. Then, at six o’clock one morning, just before sunrise, we took some of It—the weed killer—to what we judged was the center of the island. We simply poured the contents of a small jar onto the grass and waited. Well, there wasn’t long to wait. Because of the hot sun, I suppose, all the processes were speeded up, just as the processes of decay are accelerated in a warm climate. All I need tell you now is that before noon the entire island, which at dawn had been clothed from end to end with coarse grass, was black—just as black as if it had been burned."

Giselle and Pierre are hunted for their knowledge of the destructive agent. In the end:

They destroy all their notes and commit suicide so that all knowledge of the green goo will be lost.

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    I am impressed. It was originally published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1958, reprinted in a collection of Post stories (1964), and never anthologized again. I recognize the cover and some of the other titles in the collection. Aug 16, 2020 at 18:20
  • @InvisibleTrihedron it was pure coincidence that I had read it in what I suspect was an unauthorised collection. Aug 16, 2020 at 18:56

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