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In an anthology that I read in high school (1980s), there was a short story which had a feline alien race that was cooperating with humans from a wrecked starship. It took at least one human generation to fix the ship. The aliens were faster, more dexterous, and more agile than humans, but had only Iron Age technology. The city of the humans' allies was being invaded and many of the humans were conflicted because they were getting ready to leave finally, having had several of their children go native. If it helps, I believe that there was an excerpt from the Lensman series by EE Doc Smith in the same volume.

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    All I can think of is Thundercats, but i'm sure that's not it ;) – AidanO Apr 2 '12 at 9:10
  • Sounds like something by the Cherryh author (I forget the first name) – AncientSwordRage Apr 2 '12 at 10:45
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    Do any of the stories in Space Odysseys ring a bell? – user56 Apr 4 '12 at 1:04
  • Didn't Anne McCaffrey write a book about people-cats inhabiting a world where humans landed? – NiceOrc Apr 18 '12 at 11:46
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    Reminds me of an episode of Futurama – Chad Levy Sep 30 '12 at 20:45
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I'm pretty sure you read Poul Anderson's novelette "Star Ship" in the 1974 anthology Space Odysseys edited by Brian Aldiss. For one thing (as you can see from the table of contents), this anthology does contain an extract from Doc Smith's Galactic Patrol.

The story matches your description in most respects. Spacewrecked humans need help from felinoid natives with Iron Age tech to get back into space; the project takes a human generation; the children are going native, the natives are restless. The big discrepancy is that they are not trying to fix a wrecked starship. The starship is in orbit, unharmed, unattended, unreachable. All the people on the starship (yes, they admitted afterward that it was pretty foolish) rode the shuttlecraft down to a crash landing on the planet. There is no hope of repairing the shuttlecraft or replicating its "gravity drive" with Iron Age technology. The plan is to build a chemical rocket ship capable of making a rendezvous with the orbiting starship.

Besides, the Terrestrials had had to learn much from scratch themselves. None of them had ever built a rocket ship, had ever seen one in action even. It was centuries obsolete in Galactic civilization. So--they'd had to design the ship from the ground up. Which meant years of painstaking research . . . and only a few interested humans and Khazaki to do it. The rest were too busy with their brawling, barbaric culture.

"Star Ship" was originally published in Planet Stories, Fall 1950, which is available at the Internet Archive (click here for download options).

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If memory serves (and granted, my memory is suspect...) I think Poul Anderson's "The High Crusade" mentions a feline race at iron age technology.

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There was another book about a feline-like race written by Anne McCaffrey. I think they were called Hrrubans, or something like that. The book was called Decision at Doona. Wikifur has a summary.

  • Definitely not - for one thing, the humans were colonists, not attempting to repair their ship. For another, the felines in that series were basically 'on vacation' from a society that was about as advanced as the humans. – Clockwork-Muse Jul 25 '12 at 17:51
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CJ Cherryh wrote at least three books about a felineoid race called the Chanur. One question, if your characters had only iron-age technology, how did they get a spaceship?

  • Sorry, I just re-read your question and realized it was the HUMANS that had the starship. – Maggie Anderson Apr 24 '12 at 21:20
  • ... Except I'm fairly certain that the Chanur are actually more advanced than the humans; the humans are just starting (interstellar) space flight, while the Chanur have been around for quite a while. – Clockwork-Muse Jul 25 '12 at 17:53
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Sounds a lot like Vernor Vinge A fire upon the deep, except that's a novel instead of a short story and aliens are more wolf like than feline.

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    The sentence is poorly worded. Could you edit it to make it clearer what you are trying to say? – The Fallen Sep 30 '12 at 23:30

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