I read a short story a long time ago which, for a while now, I've lamented not remembering the name of, because I really enjoyed the concept so much.

I believe I read this sometime in the mid-80s, but at that time I was doing a lot of reading of anthology magazines from the 50s and 60s as well, so it's quite possible (even likely) it was from one of those..

As best I remember, the story is about a couple of space travellers who are attempting to recover another ship that had crashed or gone missing a long time ago. They find the ship, but they run into problems recovering it because it's embedded itself in a planet/moon and its FTL drive is still apparently active, and a consequence of the active FTL drive is that it alters the physics of all of the surrounding space (the whole planetary system) in such a way that they can't even get close to it to turn it off (and it has enough fuel to keep going for millions more years, so it's not going to stop any time soon).

They also discover that one of the planets in the system has developed life, and the creatures on that planet have evolved to live according to the warped physics of the FTL drive, instead of the normal physics of the rest of the universe.

Ultimately, as I remember, they're forced to give up on the idea of recovering the ship and go on their way.

At the end, one of them comments about how sad it would be to spend one's entire existence cut off from the universe, believing that nothing can go faster than the speed of light (implying that the planet with life that had developed in this environment was actually Earth)

Any help tracking this down would be much appreciated! I'd really love to read it again...


1 Answer 1


This sounds like it might be the same story looked for in A short story about how silly human physicists are to assume lightspeed is a universal constant. @user14111's answer of "Local Effect" may be the answer then, as it was published in 1968.

The answer quotes the book mentioning Earth's science has flaws in it due to the side effects of a derelict space drive, and seems to be about a couple of aliens talking to each other about this. The planet is mentioned as, rather than implied to be, the "third planet of the star Sol" which would be Earth.

  • Yeah, the plot/format does seem a little different than I remember it, but it's definitely close enough on enough points that I think you're probably right (and the time/source seems about right).. Figures it would be a never-reprinted one-shot by an otherwise unknown author :). I'll have to see if I can dig up a copy somewhere to confirm. Thanks!
    – Foogod
    Feb 27, 2020 at 14:58

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