I probably read this before 2000 in an anthology work. I frequently read books like "Best SF of yyyy".

The style of the writing is like that of the SF Golden Age.

Humanity developed interstellar FTL drives and is out exploring the Universe. The Human ship discovers a inhabitable world with ancient ruins. The Human ship lands and the crew begin exploring the ruins.

One member of the crew stumbles into an ancient trap that eviscerates and kills him. It replaces his innards with machine controlled (I don't recall whether it's biological or mechanical) fake. It also infects at least this crewman and maybe the entire crew with a plague designed to kill the entire Human species.

As the Human ship departs the planet, the machine expresses satisfaction with finally getting revenge on Humanity, the species that eliminated its master's species. Apparently short-sighted Humanity has completely forgotten the ancient conflict.

  • With your instructions, I was able to mark it as a dupe to.
    – Jim2B
    Mar 2, 2015 at 20:38
  • 1
    This is at least the third time this story has come up for identification.
    – user14111
    Mar 2, 2015 at 20:52

1 Answer 1


That's "The City" (aka "Purpose"), a short story by Ray Bradbury, first published in Startling Stories, July 1950, available at the Internet Archive.

These are our enemies. These are the ones we have waited for twenty thousand years to see again. These are the men upon whom we waited to visit revenge. Everything totals. These are the men of a planet called Earth, who declared war upon Taollan twenty thousand years ago, who kept us in slavery and ruined us and destroyed us with a great disease. Then they went off to live in another galaxy to escape that disease which they visited upon us after ransacking our world. They have forgotten that war and that time, and they have forgotten us. But we have not forgotten them. These are our enemies. This is certain. Our waiting is done.

  • Yup, that's it and I probably read it in "The Illustrated Man". Thank you!
    – Jim2B
    Mar 2, 2015 at 19:18

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