Short story or novel about change of planet from anaerobic to aerobic life, observed by and making contact with exploring solo astronaut


New Member
May 4, 2021
The above is much of what I know about what I think was a short story. I read it in high school, but my mom was a librarian and I may have read it in a book that was being culled, so it could have been from anywhere from the 30s to the early 90s when published. Not much help there I know, but let me provide some further detail that may help.

Solo explorer astronaut in spaceship comes across a planet that I think was red, everywhere but in one spot, where there was kind of raft of green. It turned out that the planet was undergoing a transition from red anaerobic to green aerobic life. In any case, the planet was sentient, and eventually recognized that the astronaut was there. The planet started to show the astronaut images on it's surface, depicting the future of the planet as the aerobic life took over and grew more and more sophisticated. Then, and I'm not sure of the sequencing of all of this, but the planet starts to look toward the astronaut and show images to do with him. There is an image in my brain of a description of a beautiful woman, naked, that is being hurt or bothered by the region of green on the planet. Astronaut was running out of oxygen, but didn't want to leave, and I think contemplated staying and dying to see more, but I think he left with enough oxygen to get back.

That's about what I can remember, hope someone has read this! I'm trying to judge how good my taste in sci fi was back in my youth, and this will go a long way toward that goal. I really hope to read it again.
This reminds me of a short story by Larry Niven called something like The Green Menace, it was set in a bar that attracts all sorts of aliens including a very ancient space faring race.
They have been exploring space for millions and millions of years, one day they bring in a really, really old member of their race, one who is hundreds of millions of years old because of all the time she spent traveling at near light speed, she is so old her exoskeleton even looks different to the more modern members of her race.
She talks about how the Earth was last time she was here, about the highly civilized beings who inhabited the planet, who were battling the growth of this new green pond scum type plant, she wonders what became of them as there is now no trace left to show that they had ever existed.
It's then that the bar tender/owner realizes that's she's talking about when Earth had an anaerobic environment.
And he wonders if humans will still be around the next time she visits!

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