Around 20 years ago I had a smallish book that was a collection of sci-fi short stories, and I can't find what book this was. It may have been a book targeted at youth rather than adults.

The only story I remember was about an alien that crash-lands in some rural area on contemporary Earth and sustains some injuries. The narrator gets the local doctor to come and bandage the alien, but the bandages are not pure cotton(or whatever bandages are made of), and laced with antiseptic(?) instead (as doctors bandages regularly are?). The alien then dies from antiseptic-poisoning while the government and scientists are still on their way. The narrator then rants in frustration about inequality on Earth, where you have wondrous technological advancements and just some distance away seemingly medieval conditions.


This is a nice description of Rescue Operation by Harry Harrison; it has been anthologised many times.

The narrator is an educated man on holiday:

“The diver, the one who stays with the widow Korenc, he will know what to do. His name is Kukovic and Petar said that he is a doctor of science from the university in Ljubljana.”

The alien is brought back to town, and when the spacesuit is opened its injuries are found:

There was a sudden welling of blue liquid from the injured leg. Joze had a quick glimpse of green flesh, strange organs, then he spun about.

The doctor uses a medicated dressing:

“You fool! You incredible fool!” he shouted. “These compresses you used—they’re impregnated with sulfanilamide.”

The narrator laments the death of the alien and the destruction of a book it had with it:

“Why here?” he asked. “Of all places in the world why here? A few more degrees to the west and the creature would have come down near Trieste with surgeons, hospitals, modern facilities. Or, if it had just stayed on its course a little longer, it could have seen the lights, and would have landed at Rijeka. Something could have been done. But why here?” He surged to his feet, shaking his fist at nothing—and at everything. “Here, in this superstition-ridden, simpleminded backwater of the world! What kind of world do we live in where there is a five-million-volt electron accelerator not a hundred miles from primitive stupidity? That this creature should come so far, come so close … why, why?”


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