I read a story, probably a short story back in the mid 1970s. Read it between 74 to about 77, but think the story itself was older, probably a book/magazine found/read in the school library

In the story a man travels to another world, the method of travel I have forgotten.

The people of this world might have been ape like humans/human type, but not "the planet of the apes".

On this world everyone over five or six years must carry at least one gun, like in the old west. They also must take training on the use of their gun(s).

One law was a person could not draw their gun except for self defence, self defence meaning someone else draws their gun first. It was legal to kill the person who drew their gun first.

I am not sure if this was a book length story (I don't think so), a short story in a book of short stories by an author, or a short story in a magazine (Galaxy type). I do think it was a story by one of the major (Niven, Clarke) science fiction authors of the time.

Another thing I might be remembering (maybe wrongly), the people of the planet/world are hairy/have fur (what I remember as ape like) and I think clothes were not worn/very minimal except for the belt for the gun and maybe a slash over the shoulder.

One reason for everyone to have a gun was to lower/prevent gun crimes, you draw your gun first and everyone near by could shoot you.

More information if I remember it right: The man meets a female who tells him the laws of town/world. I think the female might have been a sheriff or similar type of person. There might have been one or two gun fights soon after the meeting.

I think it was more of a short story(maybe only a few pages), since I don't remember much more of anything happening in this story. Quite sure it was not book length, but might have been in a book of short stories, which might make it harder to pin down.

  • 1
  • 5
    This time it actually might be "A Planet for Texans;" let me dig it up.
    – DavidW
    May 25, 2022 at 12:44
  • 14
    "everyone over five or six years must carry a gun, like the old west". Just to be clear the Old West was not like that. Leaving aside the idea of kids carrying sidearms, most people in the Old West were farmers, and many towns made you leave your sidearm when you came to town. This story is set in a gun-nut's fantasy, not a modern-day Old West. May 25, 2022 at 13:24
  • 3
    @DJClayworth I meant how they wore theirs guns on their hips in the open to see and be seen, sorry if I gave a wrong impression of the old west, just meant no concealing of the gun.
    – crip659
    May 25, 2022 at 13:31
  • 2
    This used to be actual law in some parts of the US (in the wild west days). I remember one that often comes up in lists of "weird laws still on the books", which states that if you see a known wanted felon, and he refuses to accompany you to the local constabulary, you are not merely expected but required to shoot him. Implied of course is that everyone is expected to be armed at all times for such an eventuality. May 26, 2022 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


This has some strong similarities to The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith (1979, and Smith wasn't yet a well known author -- this was AFAIK his first published novel).

Ed "Win" Bear (a full-blood Ute) is a police officer in Denver, and while pursuing a machine gun murder (in which the victim managed to empty his permit-carried revolver at the assailants), accidentally passes through a sort of portal to an alternate Earth in which the Constitution never replaced the Articles of the Confederation in the United States -- a world in which literally everyone carries a gun (except for a very few true pacifists) from the age of eight or so, in which gorillas, chimpanzees, and the occasional orangutan (not to mention dolphins and orcas) are full citizens, a world in which there practically are no laws -- and a world in which another Ed Bear is a private detective.

The female explainer is probably Lucille "Lucy" Gallegos Kropotkin, who claims to be two hundred years old. She's not a sheriff, but she does make a small income as a judge -- which isn't quite the same in the North American Confederacy as it was back in Win's home continuum.

There are a number of gunfights, at least one involving a gorilla assailant shot down by Win while wearing nothing but the cast on his broken toe, a burglary by one "Tricky Dick" Milhouse, and a climactic duel with Manfred von Richtofen (who calls himself John Jay Madison these days).

  • It is a possible match, but the wiki summary and my memories not quite matching up. A portal is possible but my memory is of a place more like an old west type place, not much science/space travel mention.
    – crip659
    May 25, 2022 at 14:04
  • This first novel never leaves Earth and aside from a short trip to what would be North Dakota (geometric center of North America), stays close to Denver, though later ones (The Venus Belt for instance) do venture into space.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    May 25, 2022 at 14:21
  • I also think it would be after the time I read the story. While I read it around 74 to 77, the story itself was probably older.
    – crip659
    May 25, 2022 at 18:36
  • Hmm. If so, I'm at a loss. Armed society written in the '50s is Beyond This Horizon, but no hairy/ape folk. Just rechecked, this was actually published in '79 (I'd have sworn I read it in high school, graduated '78). Maybe conflating the two?
    – Zeiss Ikon
    May 25, 2022 at 19:10

Deathworld 2 (1963) by Harry Harrison. Second in a three-book series. Everyone over five carries a gun, due to environmental dangers.

From Goodreads:

The stakes were slavery - or the life of Jason dinAlt. The planet was unknown... a savagely primitive place where every man had to kill every other man - or live as a slave. Inhabitants lived in the early Bronze Age one minute, and in the early Machine Age the next. Technology had degenerated into a number of mysteries jealously guarded by separate brotherhoods. But Jason dinAlt was a gambler. He realised that if he was ever going to get a winning hand in this game, the brotherhoods would need a shuffle...

  • 2
    That's a different kind of story though. If I remember correctly, it's a world in which the fauna is so dangerous that you just have to learn to fight for survival.
    – Clockwork
    May 25, 2022 at 19:43
  • 2
    @Clockwork I think you're thinking of the first book in the series, Deathworld. May 25, 2022 at 20:01
  • 2
    @OrganicMarble I am quite sure the people were hairy/fur covered except for the main guy. Also think the gun belt and maybe slash/vest were the main/only clothes, more positive of the hair than the clothes or lack of.
    – crip659
    May 25, 2022 at 22:26
  • 5
    @crip659 I was just pointing out that Deathworld has none of that in it. May 25, 2022 at 22:30
  • 3
    @crip659 No one has guns in Deathworld 2 (outside of very brief scenes at the very start and end of the book). In Deathworld 1 the city-dwelling Pyrrans who do carry guns wear coveralls. Naxa (the first of the "grubbers"/non-city dwellers that Jason meets) has considerable facial hair and wears furs, but none of the "grubbers" have guns at all. The plot elements do not match at all. May 26, 2022 at 0:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.