A short story where:
Two explorers land on a planet which has almost nothing except barren ground, oceans covered with thick algae, and humanoids whose only food source is the algae. Since there is extreme competition to live near the shore, the inhabitants have evolved into a physically competitive / tall / strong species. The explorers land away from the shore, and as they walk toward the alien species, they are spotted and chased down - one is captured (presumably killed, eaten), the other escapes back to the ship.

(I think) Before they land, there was discussion about the spaceship's windows being awful and causing weird vision problems or nausea, and that the next ship should not have windows.

Before they were chased, the explorers discussed how unfortunate the planet's inhabitants were. They had nothing to begin a civilization with, (not even trees/wood?) and they were probably abandoned by an alien race eons ago.

I read this in the 1990's, probably from a paperback anthology I found in a dusty box from my dad's collection of classic sci-fi in the garage - I'd guess it was from 1950 - 70's(?). If my details are too fuzzy to identify a specific story, a likely author or book title would help. Thanks.

  • A great amount of detail, but would you mind just taking a look at this guide to possibly help jog your memory and edit any more details.
    – Edlothiad
    May 8, 2017 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


This is "Bordered in Black", by Larry Niven. It was first published in 1966 in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and it is collected in Inconstant Moon (1973), Convergent Series (1979), and N-Space (1990).

  • That is the story I would have answered with. The humans all lived near the oceans and the ones that could ate the algae, and the rest ate other people, because there was nothing else to eat.
    – NomadMaker
    Apr 19, 2020 at 16:08

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