I have a poor memory generally but I'm sure I read this before 1980. Having been reminded of when Hitchhiker's Guide came out. I can now safely say that I read this before the end of the 1970s - perhaps even earlier.

As I implied in the title, this is definitely a short story amongst others in a book. Whether an anthology or by a single author I can't recall.

An alien spaceship lands on Earth possibly with the intention of conquering us - I can't remember. Unfortunately they have miscalculated. They assumed that we were the same size as them. Someone comes along and, mistaking their tiny space-ship for some weird kind of beetle, steps on it and squashes them.


6 Answers 6


Do you perhaps mean the G'Gugvuntts? Simply based on the timing (H2G2 was first published in 1979), and the similarity to this quote from the book:

the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across - which happened to be the Earth - where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.


It sounds very like the tv version of Katherine MacLean's Pictures Don't Lie. This one was included in the Out of this World sf series on BBC TV in 1962.

In the tv version the spaceship ends up being trodden on, though I don't think it was in the original story - they just couldn't find it.

  • I just read Katherine MacLean's "Pictures Don't Lie". In fact I just bought "The Diploids" just to get the shamefully hard-to-find Katherine MacLean stories. Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 16:07

Maybe it is Meteor by John Wyndham. It was written in 1941 but was published 1956 in The seeds of time.

It matches the style and description somewhat. Meteor is about a race of tiny aliens, though they are benevolent and not conquering, that land in a garden. When the humans find them they think they are bugs, and when the aliens defend themselves the humans think they have been stung. It ends with the aliens dying, though it is from bug spray and not being stomped on

An alien spaceship lands on Earth possibly with the intention of conquering us

We must have arrived on that beautiful, shining blue planet, with Forta only a tiny light in our new heavens. I feel full of hope. Until now, my life has been spent on a dying planet. Here, there is a world to build and a future to build for. I can hear our machines at work, opening the long passage which had been filled for the journey. What shall we find, I wonder? What ever this world is like, we must not betray our trust. We each possess a million years of history, and a million years of knowledge. All this must be preserved.

This planet is very young, and if we do find intelligent life, it will be only at its beginning. We must find them and make friends with them. They may be very different from us, but we must remember that this is their world. It would be very wicked to hurt any kind of life on its own planet. If we find any such life, our duty is to teach, and to learn, and to work with them.

Unfortunately they have miscalculated. They assumed that we were the same size as them. Someone comes along and, mistaking their tiny space-ship for some weird kind of beetle,

Oh, poor Mitty, Sally said. I think she’s dead! She went down on her knees beside the dog’s body. She is dead! she said. I wonder what She suddenly stood up, put her hand to her leg, and held it tight. Oh, something has stung me. Oh, it hurts. There were tears of pain in her eyes as she rubbed her leg.

What on earth−? began her father, looking down at the dog. What are all those things? Ants? Graham bent down to look. No, they’re not ants, he said. I don’t know what they are. He picked up one of the tiny creatures to look at it more closely. It was a strange−looking little thing. Its body was an almost perfect half of a ball, with the flat side underneath. The round top was pink and shiny. It was like an insect, except that it had only four legs, which were very short. It had no separate head, but it had two eyes on the edge where the curved top of its body met the bottom.

steps on it and squashes them.

Hell! he exclaimed, shaking the creature off his hand. The little horrors certainly can sting. I don’t know what they are, but they’re dangerous things to have in the garden or the house. Have you got any insect−killer?

Yes. There’s a tin in the kitchen, Mr Fontain told him.

Graham ran to the kitchen, and hurried back with the tin in his hand. He looked around, and found several hundreds of the little pink creatures crawling towards the wall of the outhouse. He shook the tin, and sent a cloud of insect−killer over them. The three people watched as the little creatures crawled more and more slowly. Some of them turned over, weakly waving their legs in the air. Then they lay still.

We won’t have any more trouble from them, Graham said. Horrible little creatures! I’ve neverseen anything like them − I wonder what on earth they were?


This matches Mistaken Identity by E.C. Tubb from 1956 (copyright date).

I read it in the collection Space 1 edited by Richard Davis from 1973 which might be where your timeline comes from.

If it jogs your memory, the story begins,

It will never be known what would have happened had the aliens not landed in the rose garden of Evans the Bard.

It revolves around the gardener's rambling conversations with locals and growing fear that an invasive species of beetle might damage his prize roses.


I remember that one. I read it in Puffin Annual Number One as a boy (though I think it was probably published elsewhere too) and was called The Boy, the Dog and the Spaceship (1974). The author is Nicholas Fisk.

From tygertale:

Nicholas Fisk, fresh from creating Grinny, one of the creepiest children’s books of all time, stays on form here with another sci-fi horror, The Boy, the Dog and the Spaceship, a sly twist on the Invasion of the Bodysnatchers that will have you itching all over.

  • Hi, welcome to the site. You could improve this answer by explaining why you think this is the right story. For example, in which ways does it match the story described in the question? Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 15:23
  • Can be borrowed at archive.org/details/sciencefictionst0000unse/page/n7/mode/2up, but it doesn't quite match. Most of the crew die in the crash landing, and the captain dies from being struck by the boy after he tries to get the dog to kill the boy through mind control.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 18:42

It sounds like an episode I once saw of Tales of the Unexpected. Someone on earth is trying to guide the aliens to a safe landing - I think they were having trouble with their ship. They land but report the surface is unstable & they can see huge monsters. They think they’ve been betrayed by the earthling. He on the other hand can’t understand what’s happened, & distraught rushes outside into the dark trying to see the spaceship which should be close by. The camera shows a closeup of one of his feet stepping on a tiny spaceship & making it sink deep into the mud The monsters were earthworms!

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Two things: this would be better if you could find the episode you're talking about, and the question is looking for a story, not a TV show. (Note, could you be thinking of the Out of this World episode answered above?)
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 10 at 19:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.