It's a sci-fi book (maybe a short story).

The main protagonist is a young male about 14-16 that is transported to another dangerous world with a bunch of students learning to be colonists. They have to pass their final test and are allowed to take enough supplies to survive a week. Something goes wrong with the teleport and all the students get stranded. They band together and build a village, overcoming challenges and building a thriving healthy community.

The only thing that stands out to me is the teacher telling the student to watch out for snipes or bodachs, he eventually learns every world has its snipes or bodachs and at the end when nearly 50 years later they are rescued, he decides to lead cattle to another new world instead of living on the world he was forced to colonize.

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    Is it possible you're referring to snarks and boojums?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 4:27
  • Thank you lol it's snarks not snipes, i read it 20 years ago in hs. Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 4:36
  • Its not the hunting of the snarks. this was a book not a poem. Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 4:40

2 Answers 2


This sounds very much like Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky. (One of the "juvenile" SF novels that he wrote for Scribner's back in the 1950s, aimed at a target audience of teenage boys.)

As you recalled, the starting premise was that a final test of survival skills involved being dumped on the surface of an Earth-like (but wild and uncolonized) planet to see if you really had learned how to fend for yourself when you were literally light-years away from the benefits of modern civilization. One of the things that made it a stringent test was that you were given no idea of which planet had been selected, nor what sort of climate you would be placed in (tropical, or arctic, or somewhere in between?), nor of what the nastiest local lifeforms looked like and acted like. So you had to be ready for anything!

The vague warning that you mention was to look out for "stobor." At the end of the book, it was finally explained by one of the instructors that the word didn't mean anything in particular! It was deliberately cryptic, a term that had never been mentioned in any of the textbooks or classroom lectures. The point was to make students nervous enough that they would remember to stay alert for some mysterious organism, appearance unknown, which might want to eat you (or cause other serious problems).

As you say, something went badly wrong on Earth's end after the students had all been dumped in the same region on the surface of the planet. The characters came from several different classes at different schools -- as I recall, some were high school students (i.e. teenagers of various ages), and some were college students, who were mostly up in their twenties, I believe. As you say, after weeks had gone past without anyone opening up a space-warp and summoning them to gather around it and go home, it became painfully clear to the students (those who were still alive) that they were stranded, with no telling for how long, and they had better get together and organize a village, complete with some sort of government structure, for mutual protection.

One thing that your memory had blurred, though -- the main viewpoint character (Roderick "Rod" Walker) and all the others were not stranded on that strange new world for as long as fifty years. I believe it was closer to three.

Here's an excerpt from Amazon to demonstrate that we're almost certainly remembering the same book.

It was just a test . . . But something had gone wrong. Terribly wrong. What was to have been a standard ten-day survival test had suddenly become an indefinite life-or-death nightmare. Now they were stranded somewhere in the universe, beyond contact with Earth . . . at the other end of a tunnel in the sky. This small group of young men and women, divested of all civilized luxuries and laws, were being forced to forge a future of their own . . . a strange future in a strange land where sometimes not even the fittest could survive!

  • The villiage was there long enough to create children some on the verge of having kids of there own. thats why i thought it was 50 years or so. Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 17:15
  • lol i don't know why i thought snarks other than it seemed similiar, stobor sounds a lot better. Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 17:17
  • I think your memory has blurred things just enough to add "an extra generation." If we are, in fact, remembering the same book, then some of the male and female students had married and produced babies before the rescue from Earth came along. But the babies were mere toddlers when they were taken back to Earth; nowhere near old enough to worry about marrying and reproducing to create a "third generation" of villagers.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 22:26

I think it might be possible that this could be 'Tunnel in the Sky' by Robert Heinlein. The general storyline - children sent to survive for a period of time on a different planet, failure of the transport system, setting up a community and the ending where the protagonist is leading an expedition all seem to match. I don't recall any snarks or boojums but the main character - Rod - is warned to watch out for 'stobor'

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