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Name That Trauma :: Reader Terek P. on a Space Suicide & Spiders (Book)

November 20th, 2010 by aunt john · 11 Comments

Kindertrauma crew,

I need help identifying a horror short story collection I read in the late 1970s.

The most memorable story was about a crew stationed on another planet (Mars, I think) that becomes infected and turned into murderous zombie-like beings.

The story features someone being killed with a scalpel in a medical lab. At the end of the story, the lone, uninfected crew member escapes onto the planet’s surface in a moon buggy-type vehicle.

The vehicle crashes. As his now inhuman pursuers close in, the uninfected crew member opts to kill himself by removing his helmet.

I found this grim story very disturbing at the time.

The only other story I recall any details about featured someone investigating a neighbor’s house and finding the occupant to be some kind of spider creature.

The book had several black & white illustrations in it, one of which was for this story, featuring a victim bound in spider webs.

This is a very tough one, I know. Anything you or your readers can come up with would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much,

Terek P.

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Special thanks to longtime lurker & first time poster shargraves who knew this was Sydney J. Bounds‘ short story “The Animators.”

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11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Nov 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    This is killing me. I recall this story well – I actually got in trouble for reading this during my natural science class in middle school. I have been searching for the anthology that contained this story but have so far come up with nothing. As I recall, the cover of the collection that I read actually featured the astronaut story, showing a profile of a zombie astronaut looking up into the night sky. I’ll keep looking, but I am starting to think that this is pretty obscure…

  • 2 jamisingsNo Gravatar // Nov 20, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve googled and googled and googled some more with every key word I can come up with from this post. All I can find it lists of books and movies that are considered “post-apocalyptic” even if they take place on other planets.

    Still, maybe a name will pop out at you. Might not be your book but something else you were looking for!



  • 3 TVSANo Gravatar // Nov 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Drawing a blank on the Astro-Zombie one, but the spider one sounds exactly like a Ramsey Campbell short story. It’s the right time period, too. Campbell’s early work is about as close to art as Horror Fiction gets. His life growing up was definitely Kindertrauma-worthy.

  • 4 ZombetteNo Gravatar // Nov 24, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Is there anyway it is The Dead Astronaut by JG Ballard?

  • 5 ZombetteNo Gravatar // Nov 24, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I also think the Ramsey Campbell story is Nazareth Hill.

  • 6 shargravesNo Gravatar // Nov 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Long time lurker here – first post, as methinks I have the answer!

    Sydney J. Bounds – The Animators

    Harrington and the geologist Pugh are collecting rock samples on Mars when the ground opens up and swallows Pugh. He smashes his visor and suffocates, but he won’t stay dead. Soon he has killed four colleagues back at the Base and they too are zombified. Now these undead pursue Brunel across the blood red desert. Can he hold out until the rescue ship arrives?

    from R Chetwynd-Hayes’ short story collection Tales of Terror From Outer Space.

    Also had Ray Nelson’s 8 o clock in the morning in the same anthology. Which as we all know was filmed as They Live by the maestro himself John Carpenter.

    Great little book. I got it as a kid in 1976.

  • 7 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Nov 27, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Hmmm…. I’m not the NTT poster, but shargraves story sounds like the story that I read when I was a kid. The only thing holding me back a little is that the only cover that I can find online looks unfamiliar, but the title sounds right – I remember being embarrassed when my science teacher read the title to the class and I’m sure that “tales of terror” was in there somewhere. Still, I’m 99% sure that this is the story that I was thinking of and I’m guessing it is also the correct ID on Terek P.’s trauma.

    Weirdly, looks like there is a film adaptation in the works!

  • 8 shargravesNo Gravatar // Nov 27, 2010 at 2:41 am

    I’m in the UK – so it may have appeared in a different anthology or cover elsewhere. I had that stylized 70’s floating eye thang on mine.

    Great little book – some excellent SF horror. Funny – I just read roadside picnic – and that is also in movie development hell too!

  • 9 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Nov 27, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    shargraves – there was a loose Russian adaptation of “Roadside Picnic” made in the late 70s – “Stalker”. I found it online and thought it was pretty great although the subtitle was clearly bootlegged in the version that I watched.

  • 10 shargravesNo Gravatar // Nov 28, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Thanks Chuckles – I’m a huge Tarkovsky fan and STALKER is a masterpiece of serious SF.

    Granted it drives some people to distraction with its 3 hour duration, endless dialogue and nothing ever happening…. :o) I’m a big fan of the stalker PC games too. But when I heard Travolta was involved – I just thought “Battlefield Earth” and despaired!

  • 11 aunt johnNo Gravatar // Nov 29, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Way to go Shargraves!

    Terek P. emailed this confirmation:

    Reader Shargraves nailed it!

    The Martian zombie story definitely is “The Animators” by Sydney J. Bounds. It looks like the story has been in several anthologies so I’ll do some research to see if I can find the one I read it in.

    Thanks to all who commented. Much appreciated. You’ve solved a decades long question for me.

    Kindertrauma rocks!

    Terek P.

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