I read this story in Russian in 1990s. It was a translated story. The name of the author escapes me, but I have a vague feeling it was some Anglophone or Hispanic name. The story is essentially about Earth (or possibly an Earth colony on another planet) being so scarce of resources that all kids reaching 10 years of age are mandated to battle each other in a series of gladiator fights in an effort to reduce the population. Winners get to live, losers die or return to their families maimed (I have zero idea how these disabled kids are supposed to ease the burden on scarce resources, but here we are). The fights are broadcast by the local TV. Richer families can equip their children with better gladiator gear so they win more often.

I tried asking Russian communities about this story several times, but no one remembered it. I tried searching Soviet sci-fi story collections as the story was published as part of a collection, also without success.

I remember 2 more stories from this collection, though they are unlikely to be of any help as their authors were from the Eastern bloc (East Germany? Poland? Czechoslovakia?) and do not have any connection to the story in question. But in case more info is better than less info, the first one was about a mysterious car racer who always won his races but never appeared for an interview and was not seen by anyone. The main character once spotted the racer's assistants carefully measuring the turns of a speedway where the next race was to take place. After an investigation it was revealed that the ever-winning driver was a robot, and the assistants were collecting data for it. The second one was about a young girl athlete who failed her running competition. When her coach went to talk to her about it, he found her in tears because another coach threw away her teddy bear berating her for having an emotional attachment to it.

2 Answers 2


You won't believe it, but after years of searching I found the story. It was "La Pequeña Guerra" by Mauricio José Schwarz, 1984 (Russians can search for Маурисио-Хосе Шварц "Война детей"). The main character is la niña de diez años (a 10-years-old girl) Arianne who, along with other kids her age, has to fight in a tournament to prove her right to live. Her 8-year-old brother watches her battles on TV. Arianne is killed in her third fight because she hesitates to strike at her opponent, a girl looking much smaller and younger than Arianne herself. Her father, upon returning home, promptly hands Arianne's training gear to her brother and starts his first drill right away.

If anyone is interested, the robotic car racer story was Vid Pečjak "Dan Schuss zmaguje" (Вид Печьяк "Дэн Шусс побеждает"), and the story about a girl failing her running competition was Oldřich Sobotka "Ariel" (Олдржих Соботка "Ариэль"). The reason I couldn't find those stories earlier was because the story collection was published by "Fizkultura i Sport" which is literally the last publisher I would look into when searching for fantasy stories.


Perhaps "No Gun to the Victor" aka "Consumer's Report", a short story by Theodore R. Cogswell, also the answer to this old question among others; first published in Imagination Science Fiction, October 1955, available at the Internet Archive.

The field lights were already on and the stadium a quarter full when Alan slipped into the looker room. He was ten minutes late and had to hurry with his dressing, but for once the coach didn't bawl him out. Coach Blauman didn't even notice him — Coach Blauman had troubles of his own. He was over in one corner telling them to Dan Ericson, the sports reporter for the Tribune who covered most of the high school events.

[. . . .]

Alan was lugged off the field at the end of the second action with a gash in his head that took six stitches to close. During the rest of the quarter he sat woodenly on the bench in the players dugout. A telescreen at the far end was following the play but he didn't lift his head to look at it. He looked like a clockwork manikin that had been temporarily turned off.

He was sent back in just before the end of the half. Illegally, it is true — the enemy had already received credit for one wounded, and according to NAA rules he was supposed to be ineligible to continue playing. Blauman didn't have any choice, however. The last drive of North's had torn up his whole center and he didn't have much left in the way of reserves.

As Alan trotted out toward the foxholes that marked his side's last stand, he passed stretcher bearers bringing back the dead and injured from the last play. Most of them were wearing the green helmets of Marshall. The PA system announced the substitution and there was a feeble cheer from the Marshall side of the stadium.

  • 1
    I admit story-wise it's very close. Warring kids, dwindling economy, everyone being nonchalant about children killing each other. Yet there are details that don't quite fit. First, I read the story in Russian, but Google doesn't know about a Russian translation of "No Guns to the Victor". Second, no starting age for fights is mentioned, and the characters are high schoolers, while I remember the 10 years of age mark. Third, fights are covered by a newspaper, not broadcast by the TV. Fourth, only boys are fighting, while I remember girls also having their share of kills. But thank you anyway.
    – Ari Linn
    Sep 17, 2018 at 0:56

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