I'm looking for a science fiction novel I read in the early 1980s about a group of young adults on a sort of university or academy spaceship travelling the galaxy. On one planet they stop at they are coerced into taking part in gladiatorial games with the dead losers being described as "perdido" (lost/forgotten) and never spoken of again. I seem to recall the gladiator planet was called "Hel" or "Hell" and the residents were called "Hellers".

1 Answer 1


There is No Darkness by Joe and Jack Haldeman matches well.

Contains the elements of young adults on a galactic tour, gladatorial games, and the Hellers. The ship was called Starschool.

The sections of the book are "Earth", "Hell", and "Construct".

Curriculum Notes - Earth

Most of what people think they know about Earth is wrong.


Curriculum Notes- Hell

Hell is the fourth planet out from the star Delta Pavonis.


Just flipping through it, it looks like the gladiatorial games actually took place on Earth. I need to re-read this.

  • 3
    The summary on Goodreads matches pretty well.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 16:13
  • 2
    Huh. Nobody's ever asked about this before. At one time I kept losing my copy, and wanting to re-read it, so I ended up with 3 copies of it.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 17:02
  • @DavidW same thing happened to me with "Thrice Upon A Time". Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 17:10
  • 2
    Yes! This is it, thank you. Main character's name was Carl Bok and once I looked up the cover it all clicked. Great and fast help, going to buy another copy today.
    – Seneca
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 20:38

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