I am looking for the title of a shorty story at least 10 years old.

An astronaut crashes on an asteroid or a very small planet and is paralyzed by a broken neck.

He makes contact with a member of a race of small telepathic insectoids and he helps the tribe thrive by teaching them technology (specifically I remember he told them to spread his waste where they grow their food crops to increase the yield).

There was a part where another tribe tried to capture him and he somehow moved his body to crush a number of them.

I may be confusing two stories but I think the ending has two people finding the grave marker the insects had constructed for the astronaut and wondering about it (I think it was just a big piece of metal without an engraving).

if it helps at all I think it was in an orbit or analog anthology book

  • 2
    See scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/31020/…, though that didn't get any answer. The annoying thing is that I have read and loved the story, but I'm damned if I can remember where I read it. I have searched my library several times and failed to find the story. Can you remember any names? I recall some of the aliens had names, though I can remember none. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 8:05
  • This story seems to meet most of the plot points. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 19:00
  • From what I recall, the story Severa is asking about had little in common with Gulliver's Travels. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 7:21
  • @John Rennie I want to say the human had a name like Taylor or Theodore but I cant be sure
    – severa
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


That's Alan Dean Foster's "Gift of a Useless Man". The protagonist was a petty criminal named Pearson. The insect who made first contact was named Yirn, and one of the plot points was Pearson's surprise at the insects' short life span. He has only been on the asteroid for a few weeks or months, and he mistakes one of the insects for Yirn, when it is actually an insect named Yurn - Yirn's son who has taken over from Yirn because Yirn has died of old age.


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.