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I read this short story in the 70s or early 80s, probably in a magazine or in an anthology, and I believe I read it in Dutch, but I have no idea if it was a translation or not.

It involves a man whose spaceship crashes on an alien planet. The inhabitants have a very primitive society, so he has no hope of getting his spaceship repaired to get back to civilization. He does manage to get its cryogenic chamber working, so in theory he could crawl inside it and survive until he's rescued, but in the meantime he gets to know the primitives and he is teaching them things and they appreciate them very much and he starts feeling that going into suspended animation would be like abandoning them.

I seem to remember that he also was dying, so he didn't have much time to decide to go into suspended animation, but his reasoning was that if nobody came to rescue him, the primitives might cure him once their society would have advanced enough to develop the treatment he needed. therefore he needed to educate them enough to steer them in the right direction.

Does anybody know which story I'm talking about? I may be misremembering key details, or mixing up stories. Anyway, my searches come up blank.

  • How many heads do the primitives have each? Thsi may clinch the answer :) – Covertwalrus Jul 13 '15 at 5:11
  • @Covertwalrus I don't know. So... I think it must have been just one, otherwise I would have remembered! Also, I'm not sure which story you're thinking of. – Mr Lister Jul 13 '15 at 5:24
  • Well, two heads would have pointed me at Gary Kilworth's "The Wizards of Woodworld". – Covertwalrus Jul 14 '15 at 6:34

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