Mankind is about to fight a galactic battle against an alien force nobody has seen before. Just before the battle begins one man & one alien are plucked from their spacecraft by some other benign aliens. They are deposited on a planet & who ever kills the other their race we be spared & who dies their race will vanish.

There is a force field between man & alien. They must figure out a way to kill each other.

Anybody know this story. Looking for title or author.


This is probably the short story 'Arena' by Frederic Brown.

As mentioned in @beichst's answer, an episode of Star Trek TOS also called Arena was written with striking similarities to this short story, although it was not intended for this short story to be the basis. Brown was later provided with the credit for the teleplay.

It features a galactic battle between humanity and a mysterious race called 'The Outsiders' when another race of greater powers intervenes!

Here is part of the plot summary from Wikipedia, I've highlighted the important bits pertaining to the question:

The mysterious Outsiders have skirmished with Earth's space colonies and starships. Their vessels are found to be faster and more maneuverable, but less well armed. There have been no survivors of the small raids on Earth forces so Earth has no information about the Outsiders. Fearing the worst, Earth builds a war fleet. Scouts report a large armada approaching the solar system. Earth's defenders go to meet them. All indications are that the two fleets are evenly matched.

Bob Carson is the pilot of a small one-man scout ship on the outskirts of the fleet. While engaging his Outsider counterpart in battle, he blacks out. When he awakens, he finds himself naked in a small enclosed, circular area about 250 yards (230 m) across. ..

Carson hears a voice in his mind that identifies itself as the end product of the evolution of an entire race. While traveling through various spaces and dimensions, it had come upon the impending battle. The evolved intelligence decided to intervene because both humans and Rollers have the potential to one day evolve into a being like itself, but the upcoming war would utterly destroy one side and hurt the other so badly that it would not be able to fulfill its destiny. It therefore chose one individual from each species to fight in this small arena. The loser will doom its kind to instant extinction.

Carson and his opponent discover, through trial and error, that there is an invisible barrier between them, and that living things cannot cross it, though inanimate objects can. Carson tries to communicate with the Roller, to see if a compromise is possible, but receives a mental message of unremitting hatred.

  • Thanks for the upvote. +1 back for being a good sport about it. I figured this one would get answered pretty quickly. I couldn't have beat you by more than a few seconds. :-) – beichst Dec 4 '15 at 4:44
  • Nah. Maybe just two nerdy birdbrains of a feather flocking together. LOL. – beichst Dec 4 '15 at 4:49

This is likely Frederic Brown's short Story Arena which led to the Star Trek episode of the same name.

Key points that match is the pairing off in single combat members from both human and alien race, a separation force field, etc.

A full description is at: Arena Wiki


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