I'm trying to find the name of a book I had as a kid back in the 80's/90's that was a collection of science fiction short stories and in particular one story in it.

The book:
I remember the cover being mostly orange with the face of an alien taking up most of the cover. Scaly looking 'grey' style alien with hooded green eyes. They may have also been a 60's/70's style space ship in the background with a man and woman.

The story:
Was set after all human life had ended in a great war and the story followed one of the many autonomous bombers still flying the skies carrying out their missions repeatedly bombing already leveled cities. At least that's how I remember it.

Any help/clues you can give would be much appreciated as I'd love to share these stories with my kid.

Some other stories it had, if any of these can be identified it might help me find the book:

  1. Two guys talking in a room and one give the other a wooden carving of an apple and starts telling him the history of the object and how it's used to hypnotise people who hold it as they can't resist stroking it and it puts them in a catatonic state.

  2. A bunch of robots/machines wandering the post-apocalyptic country side, free of their duties to mankind. Their adventure comes to an end when they run into a hermit living in the country and their programming kicks in and they immediately become his servants.

  3. A story about first contact with an alien race, the aliens come to earth and land at the coordinates of an air-force base but upon arrival there is confusion as the humans cannot see the aliens and the aliens cannot see the humans. The aliens complain that they've been tricked and that their ship is sinking. The humans think this is strange until they realise the aliens are incredibly small and have landed in a puddle on the airfield.

  • The story you mention made me think immediately of this animated short, I don't know if the author was inspired by the novel: vimeo.com/67768281 But it surely looks good :)
    – user48004
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 18:02
  • @JustPassingBy - Yes indeed. The stories are so very similar, it's hard to believe one didn't influence the other.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 18:29
  • @Richard Well, Ward Moore's "Flying Dutchman" is from 1951. I'm guessing that Russian cartoon is newer.
    – user14111
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 2:57

1 Answer 1


The first short story you described is "Flying Dutchman" by Ward Moore, reprinted in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1956, available at the Internet Archive.

It flew toward the city which had long since become finely pulverized rubble. It flew toward the outlying rings of antiaircraft batteries and the few serviceable guns left which would spot it on their radarscreens and automatically aim and fire, attempting to bring it to the fate of all its counterparts. The Flying Dutchman flew toward the country of the enemy, a defeated country whose armies had been annihilated and whose people had perished. It flew so high that far below its outstretched wings and steady motors the bulge of the earth made a great curving line, the earth, that dead planet, upon which no living thing had been for a long, long time.

Here are the covers of the collections it has appeared in. From your description, I think you probably read it in the anthology Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Boardman, Jr.

Here are the identifications of the other three stories you described; they are all in the same Science Fiction Stories anthology.

1. Hypnotic carving: "The Hypnoglyph", a short story by "John Anthony" (pseudonym of John Anthony Ciardi), first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1953, available at the Internet Archive.

Maddick flushed a moment, then pursed his lips almost imperceptibly and shrugged. "Well, what's it for?" he said. He held the thing in front of him and watched his fingers stroke it.

Jaris chuckled again. "It's for exactly what you're doing. The thing is irresistible. Once you've picked it up, your thumb just automatically strokes that little hollow, and it just automatically hates to stop stroking."

2. Wandering robots: "Who Can Replace a Man?" (aka "But Who Can Replace a Man?"), a short story by Brian W. Aldiss, first published in Infinity Science Fiction, June 1958, available at the Internet Archive.

By early light, the dell looked desolate and cold. From the caves on the far slope, only one man had so far emerged. He was an abject figure. He was small and wizened, with ribs sticking out like a skeleton's. He was practically naked, and shivering. As the big machines bore slowly down on him, the man was standing with his back to them, crouching beside the stream.

When he swung suddenly to face them as they loomed over him, they saw that his countenance was ravaged by starvation.

"Get me food," he croaked.

"Yes, Master," said the machines. "Immediately!"

3. Microscopic aliens: "Pictures Don't Lie", a short story by Katherine MacLean, first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1951, available at the Internet Archive.

Nathan laughed again harshly, reaching for the mike. "Get them out? There isn't a lake or river within hundreds of miles from here!"

A shiver of unreality went down the Times' spine. Automatically and inanely, he found himself delving in his pockets for a cigarette while he tried to grasp what had happened. "Where are they, then? Why can't we see their spaceship?"

Nathan switched the microphone on in a gesture that showed the bitterness of his disappointment.

"We'll need a magnifying glass for that."

  • 2
    Nailed it. That's the story and the book. Thankyou so much!
    – 9cents
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 10:59
  • @9cents I updated my answer to include titles and authors of the other three stories you described.
    – user14111
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 3:21

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