Humans dumped on a hostile planet by nasty aliens. Many humans die but they gradually adapt, they tame some of the native animals (one is a sort of massive wolf linked telepathically to the humans using another animal) The aliens land again and the humans storm the ship and take it over

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    What's the actual question? Is this a story identification or just reminiscence? Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 2:35
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    If you're looking for an identification of this story you should add the story-identification tag and the appropriate media tag (e.g. movie, novel, short-story). You should also check out the suggestions for good story-id questions.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 2:48
  • I'll suggest CJ Cherryh's 40,000 in Gehenna again.
    – Spencer
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 21:23
  • In a comment I suggested Tom Godwin's Space Prison aka The Survivors.. Seemed like a good match but evidently NOT the one we're looking for, seeing as you didn't accept it. Can you recall any more details about your story? Are there any unicorns on the planet? Do the marooned humans try to send a radio message to the nasty aliens?
    – user14111
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


This is almost certainly Space Prison (AKA The Survivors) by Tom Godwin.

In this story a spaceship containing the narrator is attacked by the Gerns, an aggressive alien race, that capture the spaceship separating those "useful" as slaves from those not-useful ("the rejects"). The rejects group is told they are being transported to a planet capable of supporting life and will be left there for future pick-up, but in reality are abandoned on a planet known as Ragnarok.

Ragnarok has gravity 1.5x that of Earth and is very hostile to human life, with a disease (Hell fever) that kills most of the settlers, and aggressive wild-life that kill many more (I think they get down to 20 survivors from a few thousand). The wild-life includes "the prowlers" :

They were things that might have been half wolf, half tiger; each of them three hundred pounds of incredible ferocity with eyes blazing like yellow fire in their white-fanged tiger-wolf faces.

These are tamed later in the book, when one of the protagonists helps a mother prowler escape from a flash-flood and later rescues a litter when another mother prowler is killed/harmed by another of the animal species on the planet:

Then, that was why the two of them were so far behind the other prowlers. Prowlers, like the wolves, coyotes and foxes of Earth, mated for life and the male helped take care of the young. She had been injured somewhere to the south, perhaps in a fight with unicorns, and her mate had stayed with her as she hobbled her slow way along and killed game for her. The pups had been born and they had had to stop. Then the unicorns had found them and the female had been too crippled to fight....

He looked for the pups, expecting to find them trampled and dead. But they were alive, hidden under the roots of a small tree near their mother.

Prowler pups—alive!

It is found that they can communicate telepathically to these and to another species called the Mockers. Mockers can transmit telepathically messages spoken to them. So if you speak to one mocker, it will send to another, who will then repeat those words aloud - the humans use this as radio.

The planet is slowly explored through a few generations as the protagonists adapt to the climate, the diseases, the lack of food (starting agriculture with wild animals and plants). After a couple of hundred years, the protagonists are fully adapted to the planet, with faster reflexes and stronger bodies to cope with the gravity, and a burning passion for revenge for what was inflicted on their ancestors.

Ragnarok has very little free metal, but they eventually stumble upon a ruby bearing ore, which is smelted for Aluminium, used to make an inter-space communicator (faster than light/radio), which they then use to attract a Gern ship and capture it, using the animals they have tamed to help them.

"No one expected any of you to survive here." The commander wiped at his swollen lips, wincing, and an almost child-like petulance came into his tone. "You weren't supposed to survive."

"I know," he said again. "We've made it a point to remember that."

"The gravity, the heat and cold and fever, the animals—why didn't they kill you?"

"They tried," he said. "But we fought back. And we had a goal—to meet you Gerns again. You left us on a world that had no resources. Only enemies who would kill us—the gravity, the prowlers, the unicorns. So we made them our resources. We adapted to the gravity that was supposed to kill us and became stronger and quicker than Gerns. We made allies of the prowlers and unicorns who were supposed to be our executioners and used them tonight to help us kill Gerns. So now we have your ship."

"Yes ... you have our ship." Through the unwillingness to believe on the commander's face and the petulance there came the triumph of vindictive anticipation. "The savages of Ragnarok have a Gern cruiser—but what can they do with it?"

This isn't the end of the story - there is more to it and a sequel (The Space Barbarians), but it is a great example of 50's/60's sci-fi.

  • Are you sure they make a faster-than-light radio? From reading the story a long time ago, I recall that the first generation managed with difficulty to build a normal slower-than-light radio transmitter, expecting their descendants 200 years later to hear from the Gerns.
    – user14111
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 2:41
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    Yes: ` "All right, Jim," he said. "Let the Gerns know we're waiting for them—make it 'Ragnarok calling' again." The transmitter key rattled and the all-wave signal that the Gerns could not fail to receive went out at a velocity of five light-years a day: Ragnarok calling—Ragnarok calling—Ragnarok calling—`. They also built a normal radio some time around year 50 post-abandonment, which they also used to send out "Ragnarok calling".
    – bob1
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 2:46

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