I’m trying to track down a short story that I read from my high school library in the late 80s. It would have been from one of the many short story paperback collections in circulation at the time.

The plot involved a female soldier involved in a war in deep space against a formidable alien species. The woman has a space suit that is like a symbiotic partner that helps her survive in a hard vacuum. It uses photosynthesis to feed her and the story presents the protagonist as almost being an alien herself. The suit had the ability to change shape, which helped her fight in space, and I vaguely recall that the feet turned into almost alpine ski-like appendages.

At the time, I was devouring short stories featuring work by Pohl, Bear, Card and many others, but I can’t find a match.

That’s about all I can remember of the story, but it’s something my mind dredges up from my youth periodically. I would love to rediscover the story if I could and re-read it as an adult... even though it’s possibly trash.

  • 3
    Just a comment, since it doesn't sound like a perfect match, but did you consider Bear's "Hardfought"?
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 5:04
  • 3
    John Varley introduced an artificial photosynthetic symbiont spacesuit known as a symb in the 1976 novelette Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance, and it's featured in at least one other of his stories, including Equinoctial, the topic of this story ID question: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/79613/116908 The symb was developed using information from aliens, but there aren't really any aliens "on-stage" in Varley's Eight Worlds stories.
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 7:57
  • 2
    One more similar story: "How Beautiful With Banners" by James Blish: "The machine—as Ulla much preferred to think of it—was inarguably an improvement on the old-fashioned pressure suit. Made (or more accurately, cultured) of a single colossal protein molecule, the vanishingly thin sheet of life-stuff processed gases, maintained pressure, monitored radiation through almost the whole of the electromagnetic spectrum, and above all did not get in the way." web.archive.org/web/20070813033148/www.scifi.com/scifiction/… Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 21:50
  • I'm just wondering if the short story relates to the full length books that I was seeking in this question - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/217838/…
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented May 12 at 2:00

1 Answer 1


DavidW might be onto something here. I read the plot summary of Hard-fought and it seems like it could be a fit, I will purchase the short story, read it and reply back.

Thanks all for helping me try to track this down.

  • 3
    It looks like you accidentally created 2 accounts. You can have them merged, please see help/merging-accounts for details.
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 1:26
  • It's been 3.5 years. Did you get it bought & read yet? Was this the winner?
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 13 at 16:47

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