In a collection of short sci-fi stories, I read one where two sibling hated their parents always being away on scientific expeditions to other planets. One day, they decided to stow away on their parents ship, and end up landing on a planet where the foliage is huge and very fast growing. Of course, they wander off and get lost, while their parents are not only realizing that the children are now on the planet, but trying to prevent their ship becoming too overgrown to leave.

The children struggle to make their way through the dense forest, and they end up discovering that the rocks are not only sentient, but can gently 'bounce/glide' along, and teach the children how to do so. This naturally makes it much easier for them to get back to the ship. I also recall that the kids managed to carry water in hollow logs or plants of some kind by stuffing moss or mud in the ends as stoppers.

On returning home, the children don't mind their parents going away so much anymore because they are able to amuse themselves (and their friends) by demonstrating the bouncing technique taught to them by the rocks.

1 Answer 1


I believe you are remembering one of the stories in "The Turning Place: Stories of a Future Past" by Jean E. Karl. It's a set of 9 stories that are all sort of turning points in human future (I'd say "history" but they're all set from the 20th century forward). The first story describes a handful of humans surviving the "Clordian Sweep", an attack by the alien Clordians that ends up changing humanity a bit.

"Catabilid Conquest" is the specific story you are remembering -- it's told first person from the viewpoint of one of the siblings. They are disappointed their parents are taking some emergency supplies to the planet Frod instead of taking the siblings on a a "sequestering" (sort of a go off by yourself, figure out who you are, rite of passage kids are supposed to go on). So the siblings stow away, and once they get to Frod, run off into the forest.

As you remembered, the siblings find the native Frod-ians (who call themselves Catabilids), who teach them to bounce -- sort of telekinesis -- and end up helping them. The Catabilids are trying to convince the humans to go away, so they want to increase the growth of the plants in the area the humans are trying to build on. They have the nutrients, but need the human siblings help to carry it (in those hollow logs) to the place where the humans are trying to clear the forest. (It's hard to carry things when you're basically a rock, even if you can bounce.)

The plan works, and when the siblings get back to earth they pretend they learned the bouncing trick themselves, and teach it to everyone.

The stories sort of build on each other -- in the next one everyone on earth can do the bouncing trick (now they calling it "lifting" themselves) and a girl learns to teleport. By the next story, everyone on earth can teleport themselves (they call it self-space-placement).

I can't seem to find any online versions of "Catabilid Conquest", but you should be able to find a used copy of The Turning Place on amazon or your local used bookstore.

  • I have been looking for this information for YEARS! I originally read the book when I was 13 or 14, and I'm now 43. I found and ordered a copy of the book as soon as I read your response this morning, and I cannot wait to see how my 12 year old will enjoy it! Thank you SO much!
    – Josefiend
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:24
  • This was one of my favorites, too, which is why I was able to recognize it. But I've probably re-read it more recently, since it's sitting on my bookshelf. I can also heartily recommend the full length book "But We Are Not Of Earth" by the same author, and set in the same universe.
    – Dinae
    Feb 8, 2017 at 2:34

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