Green Patches

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"Green Patches"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in Galaxy Science Fiction
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Galaxy Publishing
Media type Print (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
Publication date November 1950

"Green Patches" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the November 1950 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction under as "Misbegotten Missionary" and reprinted under its present title in the 1969 collection Nightfall and Other Stories.

Plot summary[edit]

A research spaceship from Earth lands on Saybrook's Planet to investigate a report by an earlier colony ship. The colony ship's captain, Saybrook, had reported that the planet's abundant plant and animal life was all part of a single organism with a unified consciousness. That organism was able to induce pregnancy in all the colony ship's female animals, and all the offspring born had green patches of fur instead of eyes, a sign that they were part of the planetary organism. When Saybrook had the women in his crew examined and confirmed that they were all pregnant, he sent a sub-ether report back to Earth and then destroyed his ship. The crew of the research ship confirms Saybrook's report, while carefully preventing any life from the planet from coming on board, then returns to Earth to recommend that Saybrook's Planet be quarantined. Unknown to the research ship's crew, they carry a stowaway — a part of the planet's fauna specially bred to resemble a length of wiring. If the stowaway manages to reach Earth, it will eventually convert all life there into a single organism with a unified consciousness — and green patches of fur instead of eyes.

The invasion is thwarted when the stowaway is accidentally killed after the research ship lands on Earth; the wiring it was impersonating controlled the ship's airlock doors, and it was incinerated when they were activated.

Critical response[edit]

Science fiction author and critic Damon Knight wrote:

"Misbegotten Missionary"...poses a difficult problem, develops it with skill, and solves it, regrettably, by accident; what disappoints me more in the story, which might have been a great one, is that it also suggests a very delicate problem of values, and not only does not solve it — I'll admit this would be too much to ask — but leaves it entirely out of account.[1]

Story notes[edit]

Asimov notes in the introduction that this story was (unintentionally) a reworking of the theme from "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell.

"Green Patches" was later included in an early Foundation Series timeline that was published in Thrilling Wonder Stories along with the story "The Portable Star".

Asimov returned to the theme of a unified planetary consciousness in his novels Foundation's Edge, Foundation and Earth, and Nemesis.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Knight, Damon (1967). In Search of Wonder. Chicago: Advent. 

External links[edit]