In this question: [Old SF novel about Earth as a prison planet; newly arrived convict has a secret agenda

There is a comment about hunting giant lizards on a planet and exporting their hides.

I remember a story, possibly from Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Adventure Magazine in the 1980s.

In an interstellar civilization, the protagonist runs out of luck on a planet and has to sign a contract to pay off his debts. The contract requires him to hunt dangerous giant lizards on a neighboring, privately owned, planet.

The giant lizard hides are exported for use as industrial machinery belts, like buffalo hides were used in the 1800s. The owner runs the planet like a company town, charging high prices for everything and paying little for hides, so while it is theoretically possible for a hide hunter to pay off his debt and leave, most get deeper and deeper in debt and are eventually killed by a lizard.

The protagonist eventually runs away with the owner's mistress, and the owner sends men to chase them.

The market for hides collapses when an artificial material is invented, and the planet owner goes bankrupt.

So can anyone identify that story?

Old SF novel about Earth as a prison planet; newly arrived convict has a secret agenda

  • Please formally accept the answer below when you get a chance. VTCed an older duplicate question against this based on your comment for the answer, but a formal acceptance would be less ambiguous.
    – Otis
    Jun 19, 2019 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


Skinner by Richard S. McEnroe

From Goodreads:

Hunting dragonhides on Trollshulm is a losing game. The odds of surviving to buy back your freedom range from slim to nil. Most skinners end up burned out, broken, or dead.

Chavez Blackstone was different. The spark that burned in him was so strong, nothing could snuff it out - not even Eli Santer, Tollshulm's absolute ruler. With a tough star-captain and an exotic beauty, Chavez defied the odds to challenge Santer's power.


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