I recall reading an interesting book where the main POV was from the female character who had a "useless" history degree in pre-space Terran science-fiction. She was accompanying a group of merchant explorers who were visiting various planets and attempting to open trade negotiations with the natives.

Her "useless" degree proved very useful indeed in dealing with the various cultures and problems they ran into, eventually transforming attitudes towards her, and her degree; making her a pretty penny in the end.

I recall one planet where the natives were at war, I think(?), and another dealing with deforestation and loss of the natives tree based habitats.

At least one portion of this story showed up in an Analog magazine as a short story.

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    Not related to the actual book, but Footfall by Niven and Pournelle features a group of sci-fi writers roped in as experts during an alien invasion. I expect it's a common fantasy amongst authors :D Sep 12, 2016 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


I recognized the book from your description, and I knew who wrote it, but I had to search his Wikipedia entry to remind myself of the actual title. (I read it maybe twenty years ago.)

Earthgrip, by Harry Turtledove.

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The protagonist is, just as you remembered, a young woman with academic expertise in old science fiction. Her name is Jennifer Logan. Hoping to put something distinctive on her record to show she is particularly well-qualified to teach science fiction at a good school, she arranges to travel as part of the crew on a merchant vessel making interstellar trips to strike deals with alien races. Repeatedly, she encounters situations where her familiarity with one classic SF story or another comes in handy in helping her look at a local problem from a different perspective.

And each of the three adventures collected in this volume was previously published within the pages of Analog.

  • Thank you very much! Out of curiosity, were there more adventures of this heroine published that were not collected in the above volume?
    – nijineko
    Sep 11, 2016 at 23:07
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    Not that I have ever heard of. Today, when I looked at entries for this book on Wikipedia and ISFDB, I didn't see any mention of subsequent "sequel stories" dusting off the same heroine for further use. (Possibly because Turtledove got increasingly busy, in the 1990s and 2000s, carving out his own niche with those multiple series of phone-book-sized novels about various "alternate history" scenarios.)
    – Lorendiac
    Sep 11, 2016 at 23:13

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