There was a collection of sci-fi/fantasy short stories I had as a kid. I can't remember the names of any of the stories but I can remember some of the contents well:

  • One story was about some tiny aliens whose spaceship crashlanded on Earth and they have to survive the perils of a backyard or something similar. I think they all ended up dying by the end.

  • Another story was about a school where kids have to grow their own tiny star as part of a class project. One kid screws it up and creates a black hole that destroys the Earth.

  • Another story was about a kid who stumbles into some ancient machine that aliens left on Earth millions of years ago. He had to solve an intelligence test by solving a puzzle related to Earth's place in the solar system. He saw some other lifeforms from Earth's past that had already failed, I think including a caveman, a pterodactyl, and a giant centipede or similar.

  • There was one I only vaguely remember about a planet that was 99% water with only a few islands. I think some astronauts crashed there and had to find a way off?

I believe it included a chapter from Ursula Le Guin's "A Wizard From Earthsea," I think it was the one where Ged faces down a dragon. I remember that it was completely understandable by me at around the age of 10 or so.

  • @usr26193 Do you remember anything about the branding of the book? It sounds from your description like it could be narrowed down to young adult fiction. Was the book relatively new when you read it, or was it much older than you? The fact that it possibly featured a story from Le Guin narrows down the possible publishers. Here is a list of her major titles: ursulakleguin.com/MajorTitles.pdf
    – tk1974
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 4:04
  • @tk1974 Sorry, all I remember is that it was completely understandable by me at around the age of 10 or so, and I think I got it fairly new.
    – user26193
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 6:19

1 Answer 1


This is almost certainly the anthology Science Fiction Stories (1988) edited by Edward Blishen.

The story about the star/black hole is called Bobo's Star, and the one with the kid in the intelligence test is called The Specimen. Looks like the Le Guin one is not actually an extract but a standalone story, Dragon of Pendor.

  • And to complete the list, the story about the tiny aliens landing in the backyard must be "The boy, the dog, and the spaceship" by Nicholas Fisk. Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 19:56

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