We read a short story at school (around 1992 in the UK) which I've always wanted to identify and much googling hasn't gotten me anywhere.

From memory... It had astronauts visiting a planet for the first time. They landed in an abandoned city and as they got out to explore. The city was automated to sense them.

One of the most vivid moments I remember talked about how the smell of the astronauts was drawn through the cobbles in the street where a (mechanical) machine was analysing them to see what type of person (species) they were.

I can't remember the ending but I have a funny feeling they died or were about to die as the city disposed of them and lay in wait for the next visitors but I may have made that part up in my head :-p

It must have been a short story although could also have been a poem. It was short enough that we covered it all in a lesson.

Funny the things you remember :-D

Thank you in advance


1 Answer 1


This sounds like it could be "The City", a short story published in Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man.

Astronauts land on a uncharted planet with a seemingly abandoned city, which is a trap laid by people decimated by biological weapons from humans before any recorded history on Earth. The city kills them, and then turns them into automatons to attack Earth with biological weapons.

  • 1
    Thank you so much JohnP. Spot on! I managed to find a copy online, it's a great story. Glad I didn't miss any previous questions :-)
    – Dogsbody
    Jan 15, 2014 at 18:56

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