In the early 80s (probably 1982 or 1983) I read a science fiction book that I bought new (at Walden Books in the mall). I can't remember the name of the book or the author. I'm gonna guess it was a fairly new publication at the time I bought it.

The book starts with a single explorer on an unknown planet decked out in all the latest technology in military hardware. A group of tanks promptly show up and destroy him with ease. It turns out that he's just the latest of many to fail to make any headway on the planet.

I can't remember why they feel the need to go this planet and subdue whatever force is running it (I remember it being implied that the tanks are all automated). But the hero of the story comes up with a new plan, and I specifically remember him saying 'I plan to go in naked', which raises eyebrows, but he's serious - he believes, correctly, that all the technology is simply attracting the tanks and that if he goes in 'primitive', they won't be able to see him or know he's there. His plan works, and - honestly, I don't remember much after that, or how it ends. I vaguely remember him finding some kind stone pillar that turns out to have electronic buttons that gives him access to the nerve center of the operation.

The book included illustrations throughout, which was a big selling point to me at the time, since this was probably around 6th grade, and cool-looking futuristic tanks were tougher to come by back then.

I've made multiple attempts over the years to figure out the book on the internet, and I have not been successful. The problem is that the internet sci-fi lists tend to focus on the greatest and most popular works, and I'm pretty sure this book is considered neither.

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    I've edited to remove the 'chatter' and make the question easier to read. You also don't need to add a signature sInce the system does that for you
    – Valorum
    Mar 25, 2018 at 10:46
  • Not the answer, but for future readers low-tech infiltration of facilities protected by high-tech is a plot point in Gardner Dozois' short-story "A Special Kind of Morning". Mar 25, 2018 at 17:36
  • I am wondering if anybody knows of a good online resource that simply lists every sci-fi novel to be released in a given year, say 1982. If there is one, I could possibly start going through it myself to try n dig up the answer here. I have not been able to find such a list myself using Google - the results are always focused on 'greatest and most popular', and, as mentioned above, this book clearly doesn't make those lists. Mar 28, 2018 at 4:52
  • So... I may have figured it out myself using Amazon as a search tool. It's quite possibly 'Planet of No Return' by Harry Harrison. (At the time I read it, I would have been young enough to not know who Harrison was.) I can't say for sure til I get a copy and check it out, but based on the plot summaries I've read, the year it came out (1982), and the fact that it's illustrated, this seems like a good bet. I am going to order it from Amazon. Mar 28, 2018 at 5:53
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    (Bonus update - I found a free online book version - minus illustrations - and I read the first chapter. I'm gonna hold off doing any more reading til my copy comes in the mail, but I have no doubt at this point that this is a match. I am not sure how I answer my own question on this site, oh wait, I see the 'Answer Your Question button. I think I can figure it out...) Mar 28, 2018 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


Planet of No Return - Harry Harrison

I found the book on Amazon searching through sci-fi books released in 1982. The cover and title seemed like a possible match, so I investigated further. The plot summaries also seemed like a good match, and the book is illustrated. I ordered a copy on Amazon to confirm.

Later I found a 'free preview' that includes the first two chapters of the book. I read them, leaving no doubt that it's a match. The first chapter especially is as I remember it, including some specific sentences that I recognized once I read them again.


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