“The Expensive Slaves”
Published under the pen name Rene Lafayette
Publication date: November 1947
Original publication: Astounding Science Fiction
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Ole Doc Methuselah
Story description: When Ole Doc Methuselah and his assistant, Hippocrates, receive a message that the population of Dorab is being destroyed by a mysterious disease, they land on the planet. Doc discovers that George Arlington, an empire builder, has brought 900 workers from the planet Sirius 68, and their arrival heralded the onset of the fatal disease. He discovers that at their biannual festivals, the Sirians feast on a substance called Kufra, and sickness is unknown among them. Doc examines the tissues of the Dorab dead, then tells the empire builder they must send the Kufra eaters back to their home planet. Arlington at first resists—but faced with planetary quarantine, he relents. The inhabitants of Dorab are dying of cancer, induced by radiation from the Kufra eaters. Kufra, Doc reveals, is plutonium.
Currently available in the book Ole Doc Methuselah.