A miserable man who is going to slice his wrists in the bathroom gets an offer to explore a remote planet. He’ll be accompanied by a robot who’s supposed to help him, but instead, as the story progresses, the robot becomes more and more of a nuisance. They have to fight some winged creatures and meet a subterranean tribe that lives in tunnels. Some similarities with Robinson Crusoe.

Could be Sheckley, but I’m not sure.

  • Hi there! Could you maybe edit a tad bit more info about this, for instance, when did you read that? (it's a written work, right? Novel? Short story?) Was it in English, was it a translation? Any ideas what the cover looked like? Stuff like that, to increase the chances of a successful identification. Cheers!
    – Jenayah
    Oct 21, 2018 at 22:15
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    hi jenayah, it was an audio book that i listened to in russian quite a while ago, most probably a translation - a short story, or a medium, to be precise Oct 21, 2018 at 22:29
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    See OP confirmation comment on answer below.
    – Otis
    Oct 22, 2018 at 1:36
  • It's done, @Sava, sorry! My first time here Oct 23, 2018 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


That's The Minimum Man by Robert Sheckley. You can read it here.

Summary taken from here:

Anton Perceveral is accident-prone to an extreme degree. A reasonably likable, intelligent, and potentially competent young man, yet he is at the wrong end of the bell curve for those necessary incidentals of living in the world. If he doesn't put his foot wrong and break a bone or at least his glasses, he loses papers or bumps into customers. The world is too much with him.

Nevertheless, even for Perceveral, an appropriate opportunity emerges. The Planetary Exploration & Settlement Board needs pioneers to check out newly discovered Earth-type worlds for general settlement. The Board has realized that their early explorers "managed to survive on every planet where human survival was even remotely possible". Great. But that doesn't tell the Board nearly enough about whether ordinary people of Earth can settle such planets. The whole mix of emigrants whose range of abilities, toughness and so on, inevitably must be below that of the super-competent explorers.

The Board has switched their heroic explorers to other jobs, and now seeks ordinary people as pioneers, to verify whether ordinary settlers can survive and prosper on the new planets. Or even better and more subtly, for each new world it seeks a minimum man as pioneer. If a minimally competent man can make it through a year of solo pioneering, then surely that environment will be reasonably guaranteed for the mass of run-of-the-mill emigrants from Earth.

Enter Anton Perceveral; or rather, exit to a new world. He is accompanied only by a utility robot, and has a substantial set of tools, seeds, weapons, food stocks, building materials, and other necessities.

It is not flattering to be recognized as a Minimum Man, supremely (or nadirly) accident-prone, disease-prone, socially clumsy, and not-quite-fatally awkward. Yet Perceveral has survived so far on crowded Earth, and he is determined to make good, and of course survive, on his assigned job in a new and otherwise uninhabited world.

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    thanks a lot, sava! the minimum man it is. Oct 21, 2018 at 22:34
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    @MikhailKudashkin since this is the right answer, you can accept it by clicking the checkmark on the left :)
    – Jenayah
    Oct 21, 2018 at 22:34
  • @Sava you should include link to a source for this summary; otherwise it's plagiarism. Just for info :)
    – Jenayah
    Oct 21, 2018 at 22:36
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    @MikhailKudashkin Please mark the answer as accepted by clicking the checkmark to the right, under the vote arrows. That will give you and me reputation, which is what makes this site works. Thank you.
    – Sava
    Oct 21, 2018 at 22:43
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    @MeatTrademark they did leave a "thank you" comment, though. That's already something :)
    – Jenayah
    Oct 22, 2018 at 12:59

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