A nuclear submarine has an accident, leaking material and radiation from the reactor, resulting in the crew being placed in suspended animation. They are partially resurrected as a novelty, acting out different scenarios for people’s amusement, living puppets. More time passes and they are fully resurrected to fight a war, as man has been conditioned and is no longer violent.

Aliens have invaded and man can no longer fight, so they bring the crew back to fight the war for them. The alien race uses burrowing machines and technology that is all designed to work underground (I think). The crew do their best but they need more people, so they find a way to break the conditioning and fill the ranks.

  • I remember reading this story, but I thought that the submarine crew actually died during the accident but were preserved in a way that allowed the aliens to recreate/reanimate them to do their fighting. Don't remember the actual story name though. Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


This is The Time Mercenaries by Philip E. High.

In the late 1940s a British submarine was accidentally struck by a destroyer and sank with all hands. Chemicals from the torpedoes and radioactive material from the reactor preserve the bodies of the crew.

After a super war scare (a couple of hundred years later) Earth passes a law mandating a genetic treatment rendering people unable to do anything violent, like defend themselves. Key to the campaign for passing the law is the submarine crew. They were dredged up, reanimated, and used as living puppets to show the horrors of war.

About a thousand years later, on the 25th colony planet of the Terran empire, the Nerne aliens land an invasion force and start leisurely taking over the empire. Easy since humans cannot lift a finger to defend themselves.

Earth's only hope is the submarine crew, who can still fight.

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