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In around 1986 I asked my dad what the paperback he was reading was and he told me the plot of this book. A spaceship breaks down and the man inside builds a spacesuit from the working parts of it, and flies through space in this tiny one-man ship-suit. The cover had an illustration of this sarcophagus-like ship in space, with the astronaut looking through a clear faceplate. (I was reminded of it by thinking Tony Stark could do the same in the Avengers Endgame trailer.) The book could have been written any time from the 1950s to the mid 1980s. My best guess so far is that I badly misunderstood the plot to Gordon R. Dickson's The Forever Man, but I wanted to see if there was a closer match.

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In The Bone

Is this the cover you remember? Book was published in 1987.

A tiny one-man ship-suit sounds like Gordon R. Dickson's short story In The Bone. Differences: the man does not cobble the suit together out of a wrecked ship, it was designed that way from the start. An alien living in a pyramid causes the suit-ship to crash on the planet. The man is reduced to savagery, but eventually recovers enough to turn the tables on the alien.

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  • Either that's a very short man, or he really has no room to move his feet about - assuming that they haven't been amputated
    – Peter M
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 18:14

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