I am trying to find a book I read as a child (in England in mid 1980's) which was about 2 boys (I think) who rented(?) or found a space craft which had a 'range extender' sort of key left in it which allowed them permission to go beyond their immediate part of galaxy with resulting adventures.

I seem to recall that the cover had a drawing of them standing near the ship pointing at a planet.

I suppose the book must have been written in 1970s/early 1980s.

  • Hi there, and welcome to SFF. You have a good start here, take a look at this guide on How to ask a good story-ID question and see if you can try add any more info
    – fez
    Dec 13, 2018 at 22:36
  • 1
    Thank you, that is a helpful guide. It's odd that the concept of the book has stayed with me for so long without me being able to recall many additional useful details! Possibly helpful points i) the book cover was on a green planet against a galaxy backdrop and the spacecraft was depicted as similar to the landspeeder craft in star wars ii) the critical point of the plot was that the two boys had stumbled upon this spacecraft which was sort of 'chipped' so it could travel beyond a small range iii) I have vaguer recollection of them entering a forest / vine like planet structure later in book. Dec 13, 2018 at 22:44
  • I would have read it in around 1984 / 1985 in England. I recall it as written by UK writer but possibly have that wrong. It was a school book so would have been 'age appropriate' for 8-12 year olds. My google searched of UK sci fi children's writers haven't lead me to anything. Dec 13, 2018 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


I suspect that your memory may be mixing together more than one story, because part of what you are describing is a very close match with The Lotus Caves by John Christopher (an Englishman), published in 1969.

Per the plot summary on Wikipedia:

Two teenage boys, Marty and Steve, live in a colony on the Moon, "The Bubble", in the year 2068. Exploring outside the dome of "The Bubble" is strictly controlled. The boys grow bored and decide to borrow a lunar vehicle. They discover someone has forgot to remove their key, which makes it possible for them to explore beyond proscribed boundaries without restriction.

The key gives them the ability to explore freely on the moon, whereas normally children and other pleasure riders would only be able to take the crawlers a few mines from the Bubble. Once they get outside that range, the pair become embroiled in the main plot, involving an alien plant that has ensconced itself in a set of caves.

Here are the early covers:

First Edition

First American Edition

What does not match is their adventures taking place on an interstellar scale. Your memories of that part of the story may actually be from another source.


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