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The story is told from the perspective of the felinoids as they discover that despite humanity's lower technology that the average human intelligence is roughly on par with their geniuses. The story unfolds as humanity takes advantage of their access to advanced technology to spread out and become rulers in vast regions of the galaxy.

I read this in the late 80's or early 90's, but I just can't place the book. It was a stand alone, by an author I'd never heard of then or since.

marked as duplicate by Otis, RDFozz, eshier, amflare, Politank-Z May 20 '18 at 4:11

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Sounds something like Pandora's Legions by Christopher Anvil. The aliens are not all that felinoids though, I remember them more simian-like.


The Centrans conquer Earth, then discover that humans are way smarter than them; the humans piggyback on the invaders to conquer (economically at least) the galaxy.

The story (more precisely the same collection of stories plus two mid-size novellas) begins with "Pandora's Planet", where the "genius" of the humans was discovered. No galactic trouble is laid down - yet (foreshadowed? You bet).

This first story has a premise somewhat like The Road not Taken by Harry Turtledove - the humans never discovered a very simple way of space travel and antigravity, which every other race did, with the consequence that all those races built a Galactic empire with seventeenth century technology. Then, their ship lands on an Earth with automatic rifles, missiles and nuclear weapons expecting an easy conquest.

(The "very simple technology every Earth scientist overlooked" is also a plot point in The Greks bring Gifts by Murray Leinster).

In Anvil's series, the Centrans decide to exploit the Earthmen's ability and ingenuity in waging war, employing them as janissaries, and giving them access to their space technology for that purpose. After all, what could possibly have gone wrong? These are Pandora's Legions.

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    A sequel to Pandora's Planet. Kelly Freas' cover made the aliens seem quite lionine. goodreads.com/book/show/3302567-pandora-s-planet – Klaus Æ. Mogensen May 15 '18 at 8:06
  • @KlausÆ.Mogensen You should post that as an answer, seeing how it's more likely the correct one. – pipe May 15 '18 at 11:18
  • @KlausÆ.Mogensen That is it! Thank you for helping me find that. It has been driving me nuts. – Pheylan May 15 '18 at 15:39
  • @LSerni I think I only read Pandora's Planet, but I need to read the Legion now. Thank you! – Pheylan May 15 '18 at 15:41
  • It turns out that "Pandora's Legion" incorporates the stories that make up "Pandora's Planet", so the above answer is correct, and I don't see any reason to post a new answer. – Klaus Æ. Mogensen May 16 '18 at 7:50

My first thought was the first volume of The Man-Kzin Wars, part-written by Larry Niven. Mankind gets a definite leg-up from the technology they salvaged from the first Kzinti ship. The time you say you read the story is about right too.

I doubt this is the right answer for several reasons though. For starters, Larry Niven is a well-known author. For another thing, this is very much not a standalone story, since Niven himself wrote the Ringworld series, and other authors were encouraged to write stories in his Known Space setting. And beyond that, although humans certainly used Kzinti technology to get a leg-up, they were losing the war against the Kzinti until the Outsiders sold them warp-drive technology.

I'm still posting this as a possible answer though. Many of the Man-Kzin Wars series weren't written by Niven (and not all by the same people either), so you might not have joined the dots with the rest of the series. Worth checking anyway.

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