I'm looking for a short story that was published in Analog in the late 60s/early 70s. It deals with a group of scientists that are examining the remains of an alien craft that was shot up in space. They try to figure up which parts go where and what a series of enormous circuit buses do. Eventually they think the have discovered what seems to be a working FTL/hyperspace drive. The tests work and the drive is a success. Later they discover that the ship just had an ordinary drive and they made the wrong assumptions.

The short story “Dead End” by Mike Hodous was published in Analog in May 1967, ISFDb title, and deals with an attempt to give the aliens the chance to make the same mistake they did. Artwork for both stories was by Frank Kelly Freas, I believe.

1 Answer 1


That sounds very much like a story "Persistence" by Joe Martino in the May 1969 Analog. Commander William Marshall is studying a captured Arcani (the aliens) ship. His bosses are convinced that they have an FTL communicator (not a drive -- both sides have that) and want his team to find it. He finds some useful new technology, but no FTL communicator. But he's persistent, and eventually figures out how to use some bits of tech from the alien craft along with some human tech to build one. So if it could be a communicator and not a drive, that's it. (It's an old favorite of mine -- one of the very best of the type sometimes brushed aside as "An Analog story".)
Cover of the May 69 issue

(The cover (above) is for another story, but the interior illos for "Persistence" are by Freas.)

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    Are you sure it's not called Persistence?
    – N. Virgo
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 5:55
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    They have FTL drives but no FTL communicators? So a carrier pidgeon in a FTL drive would be faster than an actual communicator message (at least on long distances). This has some interesting implications. Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 12:35
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    It is also pretty standard in many SF universes. It allows a feeling of "remoteness". Helps also if the FTL drive does not make a galaxy wide drive a "lets take her our for an hour" affair - you siddently get "we are half a year from the next naval base and have no way to call home fast" feeling like the old wet navy at the times of sailing ships.
    – TomTom
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 12:45
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    @Nobody The drive is FTL, but not infinitely fast. He discovers a way to send messages much faster than ships can travel.
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 13:22
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    @MarkOlson I was talking about the situation before he invented his communicator. Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 16:35

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