I read this about 2003, in a library book so it's hard to say how old it was. The 1990s at the latest.

There were two advanced space travellers - they may have been scientists or salesmen, or both. They were bored and as a form of entertainment they gave or sold two opposing planets advanced (most likely nuclear) weapons to see how long it would take for them to obliterate each other/themselves.

They were acting alone, not for any governments.

There was a line from one to the other like:

Shall we play war?


Shall we play extinction?


Let's have a game of extinction/war/obliteration

Something along those lines.

I never actually got to the finish so no info on conclusion.

  • 5
    This reminded me of an episode of SG:Atlantis - The Game - when the team discovered what they thought was a game (an RTS), but in fact they were controlling two nations on a planet. You can read the synopsis here - gateworld.net/atlantis/s3/the-game
    – Losiowaty
    Jun 5, 2018 at 11:59
  • @Losiowaty. Sounds a bit like the end of Ender's game (the book) Jun 5, 2018 at 15:30
  • Makes me think of The Ellimist Chronicles (an Animorphs book), but no scientists involved, and the closest it comes to this is one being trying to save planets while the other tries to destroy them.
    – ZAD-Man
    Jun 5, 2018 at 16:23
  • Zelazny's Game of Blood and Dust is about two godlike beings playing a game with the fate of the Earth, making small changes to force the course of history one way or the other. It ends "Best 2 out of 3?" I thought about writing this up but there are too many differences :( Jun 6, 2018 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


It just might be "The Rival Rigelians" by Mack Reynolds (1968). At one point there's a sort of 'wager' on which civilization is going to blow itself up first.

From one of the blurbs:

The team from Earth had the task of raising backward planets to the home world's high level. The situation on Rigel was this:

"The most advanced culture on Rigel's first planet is to be compared to the Italian cities during Europe's feudalistic yeas. The most advanced of the second planet is comparable to the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish conquest."

"These planets are in your control to the extent that no small group has ever dominated millions before. No Caesar ever exerted the power that will be in your collective hands. For half a century, you will be as gods and goddesses!"

But the Rigelians were themselves descended from the lost colonists of old Earth and they could learn their lessons as fast as they could be taught.

In fact, they could even teach their teachers a thing or two. And therein lay the peril the professors from space never dreamed of.

  • Thanks for the detail but I don't think this is it. There are definitely some parallels but from memory it was more of a thing where the two scientists were acting alone, and just picked random planets, pushing them to extinction for a laugh. Jun 5, 2018 at 22:51

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