Looking for story title and author. Can't remember if the story was a short story, novella or novel.

Here's the storyline as I remember it.

In the near future humans have just created a prototype stardrive. The stardrive needs to be tested. If the stardrive fails it could cause massive destruction making it not wise or safe to test in the solar system. A human pilot took a long trip using a conventional starship to a nearby star to test the new stardrive. Unknown to the human pilot the star had a planet that was inhabited with intelligent alien life. The aliens on the planet focused on developing their psychic abilities to manipulate matter rather than science. The priesthood on the planet was searching for children with psychic ability and found a young boy with exceptional powers. Meantime the human pilot who is in space circling the star was preparing the prototype stardrive for the test run. While preparing the for the test run the human pilot thinks he is experiencing some type of space madness. Actually he is experiencing physic episodes of sabotage directed from the young alien boy. The young alien boy on the nearby plant's surface instinctively understood that the stardrive test would destroy his planet.

Overcoming the psychic assaults the human pilot successfully tests the prototype stardrive, but destroys the alien planet in the process. Just before their deaths all the psychic capable aliens on the planet broadcasted a message into space about what the humans have done. This triggered all the other alien races to judge and condemn humans.

Time passes ... the story resumes with humans landing on another alien planet just long enough to harvest needed raw materials and leave. While there an alien man with psychic powers sneaks into the human camp. Here he learns a truth. All alien races continue down the path of developing psychic abilities. One side effect of inbreeding for psychic abilities was infertility. The other was limited growth both technological and in social development of alien civilizations. Eventually every alien civilization fails due to these faults. Humans continued down the path of developing science over psychic powers. Because alien races exterminate humans on sight, humans migrated to and lived in space on large space ships. Although periodically humans do need to restock some raw materials only available on planets. Humans will continue to grow and evolve while alien races are destined to fail and disappear.

Some unusual words I remember from the story: "strong sticky" "weak sticky" bird

Unique idea mentioned in the story - humans use poems or sing songs to assist in performing the required steps for complex maintenance tasks on the space station. The computer rated the human performance of a completed task using the poem/song. Humans can create and submit new poems/songs for completing tasks. Based on human performance in completing the task the computer will either keep the old poem/song or replace it with the new poem/song.

  • Do you have any idea when you read this, where you read it, in what language, and whether it was a translation or not?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 15:59
  • Read it a few years ago, but the story could be older. Story was published in English - not a translation. Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


This is Earthship and Starsong by Ethan I. Shedley. It's also the answer to this question, though it mentions different parts of the plot.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.