Commander John Hanson recalls his harrowing expedition among the giant spiders of FX-31.
diately behind us, and the four other men of the party flanking the ray operators, two on each side.
It was hot, but the air was dry and invigorating. There was not a cloud visible in the sky. Far ahead was a low line of bluish, fronded, vegetation; whether small trees or some fern-like undergrowth, we could not determine. The ground between the ship and the line of vegetation was almost completely barren, the only growth being a lichenous sort of vegetation, gray-green in color.
* * * * *
Here and there on the ground were the imprints of sharp, split hoofs, and Correy pointed these out to me with the comment that one of the guards had reported seeing a number of slender-legged animals roaming here in the star-light, apparently seeking water, but frightened by the strange apparition of our ship.
"From the way he described them, they're something like the deer we used to have on Earth," he said. "I've seen the fossils in the museums, and they had little sharp, split hoofs like--"
A formulaic pulp story of an armed expedition to a barely explored planet by scientists attempting to communicate with giant intelligent trapdoor spiders. The earthmen have mindreading circlets, atomic blasters and grenades, disintegrating rays, and invulnerability suits. And a treacherous alien.
The heroes are heroic and the cowards are contemptible--that's the extent of the characterization. The plotting is predictable.
A fair story, but with an abrupt and unsatisfying ending.