More than five years ago, I started reading a sci-fi book about advanced humans making first contact with (definitely pre-industrial but might specifically be iron-age, medieval-era) humanoids. I don’t think it’s a pre-2000 book.

Humans either arrive in the alien star system by chance or as a fleet that uses FTL but one ship accidentally goes bonkers and warps to the wrong destination (being the alien star system).

The aliens are probably humanoid but they, for sure, are taller than humans. This was because of the planet having lower gravity.

The aliens are split into two divided cultures. The first culture lives in a very cold climate while the second culture lives in a desert climate. The humans initially side with the first culture but that may change later on in the book.

Finally, there was one scene where the humans were on motorcycle-like devices (maybe hoverbikes) and had firearms. As the humans rode past, they fired and mowed down a culture's army.

  • 1
    Trying to revive this thread because I’ve lost interest in recreational reading because I cannot find this book! Also, I added new info.
    – Jisip
    Feb 24, 2020 at 4:22
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    For the record, some of the big-picture elements match with C J Cherryh's Foreigner and its sequels. But most of the details you mentioned don't match.
    – The Photon
    Feb 24, 2020 at 6:01

1 Answer 1


This is a long shot. The astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the SF writer John Barnes co-wrote a science fiction novel published in 1996 called Encounter with Tiber a.k.a. The Tides of Tiber. Within that novel there is a story-within-a-story that describes the experiences of some advanced aliens who came to Earth nine thousand years ago.

It is a long time since I read Encounter with Tiber but if I've remembered it right, the experiences of the Tiberian aliens encountering primitive humans sound similar to what you remember, but with the roles of humans and aliens reversed. The Tiberians were fleeing their planet which was about to be destroyed by some catastrophe. Many ships fled the planet but the ship the story focuses on had become separated from the others for some reason, and only that ship finds Earth. The Tiberians discover that the inhabitants of the planet are physically quite similar to them. They initially make peaceful first contact with a human tribe, but then one of the Tiberians ends up using his advanced weaponry to slaughter a lot of humans. I can't remember whether hoverbikes or motorbikes were involved and I also can't remember whether the killing was in response to some sort of provocation or threat. I remember that the one who did it (or led it) tries to justify it by saying that it would be for the long term good of the humans to be enslaved by the more advanced Tiberians.

But it doesn't work out that way. The humans counter-attack and overwhelm the Tiberians by sheer force of numbers and enslave them. The first attempt of the humans to make the Tiberians teach them how to use their "magic" ends in disaster when the son of the human chief ends up dying in a Tiberian shuttlecraft or aircraft that he was being taught to use. Nonetheless the human tribe does gain enough Tiberian knowledge to conquer its neighbours and grow into an empire and I think it is implied this was the start of human civilization.

  • If you decide to check out Encounter with Tiber bear in mind that the first third of the book is completely different in character; it's a very hard SF story about human spaceflight with lots of technical details. Sep 27, 2019 at 10:29
  • Thank you. I'm pretty sure this isn't it but I'll check it out
    – Jisip
    Oct 1, 2019 at 13:42
  • Trying to revive the thread. I’d really like to read this book. I’ve lost all interest in recreational reading because I can’t find this book! Also, I added new info
    – Jisip
    Feb 24, 2020 at 4:21

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