This short story I read at least 30 years ago, maybe more. Since I rarely read magazines it must have been in some collection but I don't remember anything about which one. So it could be older than that.

It is about a planet to where a first exploratory expedition had been sent and never came back. So a new one is sent, but knowing they must be extremely careful. The ship of the first one is readily found and shows that everyone has been dead almost since the time they had arrived. Somehow the new expedition has a brush with a huge creature which can kill, like an electric eel, by projecting an electric field (or maybe it was a magnetic field ?). Since they were on their guard, they manage to escape by the skin of their teeth and bring back the warning that this planet is really not fit for colonisation.

1 Answer 1


Could this be The Callistan Menace by Isaac Asimov; published in 1940, but republished in 1972?

In this story a young stowaway hides on a spaceship, which he doesn't know is headed for the as yet unexplored Jovian moon Callisto. Attempts to explore Callisto in the past have failed for unknown reasons, with communication with the landing spaceships failing shortly after touchdown.

The stowaway is found and because of his idolization of the crew is set up as their "mascot" and outfitted with an old rubberized spacesuit that one of the crew has as a memento, instead of the normal iron based suits everyone else is using. After the ship lands, the remains of the earlier exploring ships are found covered in layers of slime. A bunch of slugs come out of a lake and attack the crew using magnetism, which is enhanced by the crews' metal suits. This only leaves the stowaway in his rubber suit to save the day, which he does barely, even though his suit is leaking.

In addition, just re-read it to satisfy my curiosity, the other ships couldn't escape because they were iron based too, whereas the one in the story is a new "beryl-tungsten" hull, meaning those inside are not affected by the magnetic attack.

  • 2
    Yes ! This is indeed the one. Thanks
    – Alfred
    May 8, 2022 at 10:51
  • 2
    Did they shove him out of the airlock on the way back, in a very tearful scene, because they didn't have enough precisely-measured fuel to get back with a stowaway? (Or am I thinking of a different story ...)
    – davidbak
    May 8, 2022 at 17:05
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    @davidbak I'm pretty sure you're thinking about "The cold equations" there.
    – Graham
    May 8, 2022 at 18:03
  • 1
    @davidbak no, definitely not; the story ends with the stowaway thumbing his nose at Callisto.
    – bob1
    May 9, 2022 at 0:37

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