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Health Hazard by Howard L. Myers

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"Health Hazard" is a 1973 science fiction short story by Howard L. Myers. It is about an inhabitant of another planet whose addiction to an Earth food eventually helps save her species.


Yes, I admit it – I am very nearly addicted to chocolate. It’s funny because I can resist pretty much all kinds of sweets… but put something chocolatey in front of me and my resolve weakens by the second! Mmm, mmm, mmm! Oh well, it is good to know that this delightful substance tempts not only Earthlings but people on other planets as well!

Non-Spoiler Summary

chocolates by roboppy (CC 2.0 License)

Romee is an inhabitant of the planet Notcid. It is a pretty easy going place, but now that the “traders” have been replaced by more concerned Earth people she is having difficulty purchasing her favorite Earth food: chocolate. So when she is given the chance to participate in a study on “response to environmental stimuli” she literally jumps at the chance – especially since she will make a load of money for doing it. The study turns out to be a little bit scary and frustrating, but her experience with it proves to be invaluable after she learns to apply it in truly dangerous situations. Now if she can just teach the others to learn these new ways they will have chocolate galore! Yum!

Some Interesting Tidbits

  • Word count: 6,857 (14 pages)
  • Did you know that in the early 1970s Howard L. Myers was poised to become “one of science fiction’s top authors” when he suddenly died at the age of 41? Yep. You can learn more about this fantastic, yet nearly forgotten, author in the Preface to his book.
  • Special thanks to Variety SF for pointing out this great story!

Where To Find Health Hazard

  • This short story first appeared in the January 1973 edition of Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact – over a year after the author’s death.
  • You can read "Health Hazard" for free online at The Fifth Imperium.
  • It is also included in the book of Howard L. Myers short stories The Creatures of Man.

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you liked "Health Hazard" then you may also enjoy “Finisterra” by David Moles – about an engineer from Earth who contracts out to help poachers on a distant world make their biggest kill yet.