the specimen collector

groovin

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Jan 14, 2017
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im trying to trace a short story i read many years ago that i think was called 'the specimen collector'.
as i can remember a human explorer from earth lands on a distant planet similar to our own . while investigating an area around a stream he comes across a metal box like alien machine which hovers along slowly .
the machine projects a hologram of a fly above a small fish in the stream & when the fish jumps to catch the fly the machine fires a thin dart and kills it.
i think the machine then processes it somehow & leaves it wrapped & labeled . he follows the machine whereupon he meets a woman .
i remember getting as far as the opening dialogue between them which were of course introductions but then for whatever reason i left it there .
would love to know if the woman was real or a hologram .
 

otistdog

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You might look over ISFDB's list of short stories with titles that contain "Specimen" to see if you spot the story of which you're thinking. Clicking on each title will show the collections or magazines in which that title has been published.

Please do report back if you spot it; I don't recognize the scene you describe myself.
 

Peter V

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Reminds me of the story Ruum but not it sorry i can't help
Me too. Remember the Ruum from many years ago in my formative SF years and it is one of those that stuck with me. Feeling nostalgic I read it online yesterday for the first time in (at a guess) thirty years or more. It is very dated now and not particularly well written but the subject matter still makes for a great short.
 

khobar

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This is an old thread, but I just found it today. I, too, have been looking for this story. Anyone? Thx!
 

otistdog

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Khobar, can you add any other details that aren't in the original post that might help someone to recognize the story? Every little bit helps!
 

khobar

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I'm afraid I can't offer much more than the OP except to say he is correct - the machine lures the specimen and then processes it. Unfortunately for the traveler, the woman is also a lure, and just when he drops his guard he feels the piercing sting of the dart.

I read this story in English class some 40 years ago. At the time I was in boarding school in Northern Ireland (Portora Royal), and I seem to recall the story was presented as being written by an Old Portoran. No idea if that is true, but the story stuck with me all these years.
 

Dave

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If it were an Irish author that would narrow it down considerably, however @groovin doesn't appear to be Irish, so it isn't likely that he also read it in an Irish boarding school. He is UK though and he couldn't have read it until about 40 years ago.

So, probably looking at a UK Magazine published in the late 1970's or early 1980's?? There are still too many.
 

groovin

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Thanks guys so far..
I came across this story in an English class around 1979-80. As two examples of short story telling we were given 'the ice warrior' by Robin Chambers to read (1978 Penguin) but the specimen collector was given to the class in photo-copied form by the teacher who told us the story had been written by a pupil. A pupil of what school and where I do not know but it could interest you @khobar . I therefore have no knowledge of the author, what the cover looks like or whether it was part of a collection of stories.
As for the story itself its not really surprising the woman was a lure. Naturally I am being brief in the original post about the story but prior to encountering the machine personally, the traveller observes it stalk and attack several different animals. The methods the machine uses to capture and process these animals are both fascinating and brutal.
The last words I read before switching my attention to something else were those of the woman when she says to the traveller..
"hello Earthman do you like our specimen collector ?"
 
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