A short story about a group of rural people who start to develop the ability to photosynthesize. They start to grow tendrils which reach into the dirt, and create energy from the sun.

  • 3
    It might help if you could you elaborate on how "older" the story is. Are we talking pre-1990 or pre-1970 for instance? Also, is there any indication whether it was in a book or magazine or the names of any of the characters?
    – Valorum
    Jan 11, 2014 at 19:30
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    I'm looking for this story too... As I remember it, there was controversy in the story, either people were injected forcibly, or by choice - but there were other humans who didn't understand it... I remember descriptions of 'golden-green skin', and that part of the story did have a zen-like 'lassitude' to it. There was also the sense, whether literal or implied, that this was 'the future of humanity', that it was going to save humanity and transform it into something better... I can't remember the source of the story, but I remember it being a short story, and I read it when I was young, so, l
    – user45118
    May 1, 2015 at 20:11
  • This is best served as its own question,just in case it's a different story. I'm going to mark your answer for closing, but you should be able to see it, even if it does get closed, so that you can repost it as a question.
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 1, 2015 at 20:32

3 Answers 3


Your story description has similarities to "Whatever Happened to the McGowans?", published in the May 1970 Galaxy. The protagonist is living on a rural planet with his wife and son, on a homestead left behind by the McGowans family of the title. The protagonist is dreading the impending visit of his in-laws (whom he finds annoying).

First the little boy, and then his parents, start developing an affliction: they experience extreme lassitude, and the only time they feel better is in the sun. In the end, it's only the arrival and intervention of the in-laws that prevents them from transforming fully and permanently into vegetation. The protagonist realizes that the McGowans never left their homestead; instead they're still on it, in the form of large plants.


There are some similarities to "Piper in the Woods" by Philip K. Dick, enough for it to possibly be the story you're thinking of. People in that story come to believe that they are plants. They bask in the sun, and at night they sleep on dirt. However it is unlikely that they actually photosynthesize, they only believe that they do. Also they are soldiers stationed on an asteroid, not rural people. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/32832


Not the answer since it is not a short story, but should anyone find this page, photosynthesizing capabilities are added to human cells by Miranda Sharifi's Change nanomachines in Nancy Kress's Beggars and Choosers.

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