This is a story that was read on BBC radio about thirty years ago, and this is about as right as I can remember it: The human pilot of a spacecraft is doing some reconnaissance on an alien planet. He crashes but survives. For some reason, no one will know where to look for him. He sees something in the distance that looks like a building of some sort. When he gets there, it seems to be a home. Very much like a human home. There's furniture, but it's strange and uncomfortable . There's food, but it's inedible. There's a faucet but what comes out of it seems more like acid. Everything looks as though it should be right, but it's not. He leaves the house, wanders and after a few days is desperate for water. But there isn't any water anywhere. He's close to death, crawling on the ground and then something happens. There are cracks in the soil and there appears to be water bubbling up from perhaps some underground stream. The water revives him. He goes back to the house and tries the food again. It's delicious and he eats enough to gain back his strength. Then he decides to try the water again. It's pure and wonderful. He takes a shower and the last line of the story is how refreshing the water is on his skin and something about him lifting his tail.

1 Answer 1


This is A.E. van Vogt's Enchanted Village, originally published in Other Worlds Science Stories in 1950. It has also been published under the titles The Sands of Mars and The Enchanted Village.

Normally for this type of question, I'd provide a summary of the plot to provide further proof of the identification, but you've pretty much captured the entire story. In this case, I was able to find the story on Google Books so you can read it for yourself.

  • Wow. I've just read it and that is most definitely the right story. I can't thank you enough. I've been wondering about this for a very very long time. I find it interesting that (a)this story has remained in my conscious mind for this long while I've completely forgotten so many things of greater significance, and (b) that I didn't remember it exactly...especially the water thing..I would have thought I'd remember that....Anyway, many many thanks...The mystery is solved!
    – Tallis
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 6:34
  • DAMN! I was gonna answer this. I download lots of SF audio anthologies.. and I know somewhere I have that exact radio show you were listening to.
    – Arammil
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 8:03

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