Ok, I can't remember the name of this story, but I remember some of the plot. Humans, or the species the main character's from, take over a planet, but the locals are pretty chill about it and just go along with it, which confuses the main character. The basic idea that the Main Character learns is that the planet had been taken over before, but the race that lived there just went along with it and the 'conquerors' basically melted into the culture there. It happened before, and the main character saw the evidence of this through their currency.

I also remember that the native species kept track of time through generations, not through actual years.

  • Are you sure it was a planet? One of the Shaper/Mechanist stories has a very similar theme but set on an asteroid.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 23:56
  • 2
    This sounds like a Robert Scheckley kind of story, but I haven't found one that matches yet.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 4:38
  • The idea is used in Harlan Ellison's short story Sleeping Dogs, but the takeover is anything but peaceful and there's no mention of currency; the locals are obviously all of different species.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 5:47
  • @SeanDuggan - Similar theme to The Sweeper of Loray.
    – Fruitbat
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 11:57
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/236654/… (which is newer but has an accepted answer)
    – Otis
    Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 16:47

3 Answers 3


I think this might be A Matter of Profit by Hilari Bell. It is a scifi YA novel, published in 2001. The main character is from a human race which has conquered a coalition of forty other planets of various races, who gave up without a fight.

As the story progresses, the character is looking for a number of things, (including the answers to more immediate problems) but among them is the question of why the Tchin (the alien culture) gave up without a fight, something puzzling to the warrior culture the main character is from - and discovers, as in your story, that the answer is assimilation... a practice which has worked, well, 39 times so far (and therefore 40 planets, with culture which answers to a single name). I believe I recall some monetary evidence, as you mention, but I'm less certain (it has been a while since I've read it).

I hope this is the book you're looking for.


This is a long shot: "Second Game", a novelette by Katherine MacLean and Charles V. De Vet, the first story in their Kalin Trobt series; first published in Astounding Science Fiction, March 1958, available at the Internet Archive; also the answer to this old question among others.

It's not a perfect match, because the viewpoint character is from the conquered race rather than the conquerors. Here is the part that matches:

There was no need to dissemble further. "The solution first came to me," I explained, "when I remembered a formerly independent Earth country named China. They lost most of their wars, but in the end they always won."

"Through their women?"

"Indirectly. Actually it was done by absorbing their conquerors. The situation was similar between Velda and the Ten Thousand Worlds. Velda won the war, but in a thousand years there will be no Veldians—racially."


Possibly Mark Clifton's What Now, Little Man?

Were the aliens called "Goonies"? There was a notion that they had once conquered the Universe as Man was doing now, but had outgrown such childish stuff.

  • Yes, but do the Goonies assimilate their conquerors into their culture?
    – user14111
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 8:06
  • Not in the present, but iirc the viewpoint character speculates that this may eventually happen
    – Mike Stone
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 8:14
  • The question reminds me more of "Second Game" which was the answer to this question.among others. Only it's the other way around: the main character is a Terran (if I remember right) and the Terran empire capitulates to the aliens, knowing that the aliens will eventually be absorbed into our culture.
    – user14111
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 8:42
  • Ridiculous. Everybody knows Goonies Never Die. If they never die, how could they be absorbed?
    – Broklynite
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 10:33

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