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I'm looking for a book I started reading as a teen in Russia in the mid 90's. I believe it was translated from English. I bought it along with a book from Christopher Stasheff, Warlock in Spite of Himself.

RESEARCH:

  • I Googled various online Russian book sellers.
  • Searched Goodreads "Top 10" Sci-Fi lists from 80's and 90's.
  • Asked around Facebook sci-fi groups

Results: someone pointed me to Jack Vance's The Chasch book series. I'm currently two chapters in with a very similar plot but it doesn't quite match the details I remember. (Possibly I've forgotten, mixing some details up)

DETAILS I REMEMBER FROM THE BOOK:

  • The cover had beautiful artwork of people or humanoid riders on huge mounts with tall necks
  • The story begins with a space pilot (possibly one person fighter) crash-landing on a desolate planet
  • He is wounded and taken captive by an unfriendly nomadic alien race
  • The aliens travel through a desolate place (I think it's covered in snow) in a caravan
  • The aliens ride huge furry mounts with tall tube like necks (see image below for similar image)
  • There is a limited food supply, but I SPECIFICALLY REMEMBER WARM, BITTER MILK the main character drinks

The book had a similar cover but creatures were furry

  • 1
    From the description, this belongs to the sub-genre known as planetary romance. Maybe that can help you in your search. – Klaus Æ. Mogensen Mar 6 at 8:35
  • 3
    I have Vance's Planet of Adventure novels (City of the Chasch etc) and I'm fairly certain there is nothing in them about drinking milk, bitter or otherwise. – John Rennie Mar 6 at 8:36
  • 1
    Faint (very!) thoughts of an obscure C.J. Cherryh book – DannyMcG Mar 6 at 17:35
  • This could even be A Princess of Mars. – Spencer Aug 22 at 17:17
7

Many details match Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh (as per the comment by DannyMcG). Many details differ.

  • Humans are stranded on an alien world. The main part of the story is several centuries after the landing, and the main character (Bren Cameron) is a trained diplomat, not a pilot. There is an introduction about how the humans got shipwrecked in the first place, which features bridge crew.
  • The aliens are less advanced than the humans, but catching up quickly due to a land-for-tech deal. No longer nomadic.
  • Outside the major towns, riding animals (mecheiti) are used which match your description.
  • Cameron is taken captive by a faction of the aliens.
  • Cameron is poisoned by alien tea. An alien physician, without access to human-specific drugs, prescribes a glass of milk every three hours until the milk no longer tastes bitter like the tea. They serve warm milk, but a half-dazed Cameron insists on cold milk.
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  • Thank you for your reply. I'm very familiar with C.J. Cherryh's work and did some research into her books but couldn't find what I was looking for. As you mentioned, only some details match but thank you for the effort. – Ben Mar 8 at 16:49

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