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This was a short story where a ship was answering a distress call, and landed on an alien planet. I believe the crew who initially made the call were all dead when they arrived, but then people started acting weird because they were somehow taken over by a parasite that hid in the sand and stung them through the soles of their boots.

The main protagonist was a scout or surveyor or something, and so had magnetic boots to climb the mountains, protecting him from the stingers that popped up out of the ground. The aliens, via their proxies/hosts, want to return to Earth and proliferate. He decides to drug all of the other crew members, and a party of them come out onto the planet’s surface after him. He knocks them all out/disables them somehow, returns the ship to orbit and somehow everything comes out all right in the end.

Any ideas on title/author? I feel as though it is an older work, not Asimov or Bradbury but of the pulp sci-fi era, but that may be just due to the overall writing style the author employed.

  • So it's not The City by Bradbury? – Mr Lister Mar 24 '14 at 19:03
  • No, unfortunately. A similar theme, of overtaking a human and using them against their will, but this had a more modern feel. Don't let my reference to Asimov and Bradbury limit options, I'm now thinking it used more modern-sounding prose than either of them. – Dominant Allele Mar 24 '14 at 23:42
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This is The Judas Valley by Randall Garrett and Robert Silverberg, first published in Amazing Stories, October 1956 as by Gerald Vance.

Here's a key passage:

It was at that instant that he felt something slam against the sole of his heavy metamagnetic boot. [...] Hanging from his boot sole was one of the ugliest monstrosities he had ever seen, unusually grotesque. [...]
“Good God! If I’d been wearing ordinary boots, that thing would have stuck clear into my foot!”

All other crew members are under the influence of the aliens, so the protagonist puts a knockout drug in the water tanks of the ship. When they are all out, he takes the spaceship into orbit and drops a bomb on the planet.

The story is available on Project Gutenberg.

  • That is quite impressive, thanks so much! – Dominant Allele Mar 25 '14 at 16:14

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