In my youth I read and enjoyed a SF novel that took place largely on a planet called Ragnarok. I'd like to rediscover it, if I could. Some details I remember:

  • Humans are fighting a war with a humanoid non-human species.
  • The planet is earth-like, and has seasons.
  • The human colonists of the planet arrived there more-or-less accidentally, their ship having been attacked by the antagonists, who were either unaware of their survival or did not care at the time.
  • The story takes place on Ragnarok over several generations of descendants of the original colonists; the bulk of the story is how they survived and eventually prospered
  • The humans do not have any advanced technology due to the destruction or disablement of their ship; they gradually recreate some basic technology. An important weapon is the semi-automatic crossbow.
  • The humans have a hard time surviving -- they can live off the land, but initially not very well
  • Eventually the non-human antagonists return to the planet and the colonists' descendants fight them -- and win! And thus acquire the means to leave the planet using the starship of their enemies

ETA: It's a duplicate in the sense that both questions are answered with the same story -- but it's not a duplicate exactly. I'm happy, nevertheless, although marking this a dupe after well over a year seems a tad delayed. No problem.

  • 3
    Re your edit: yes, you're asking about a novel and not a short story, but if you read user14111's answer to the other question, you'll see that it does cover Tom Godwin's The Survivors (in more detail than the answer here does, in fact). See also this meta post for a community discussion of whether or not to close story-ID questions as duplicates when the accepted answers are not quite identical, e.g. a series and one book from that series.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 16, 2016 at 19:58
  • Yes, I reacted too swiftly, although the question itself is asking about a novel vs a short story -- clearly the questions both point to a single target, the novel The Survivors. I've toned down my edit, and that should be that Oct 17, 2016 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


The Survivors (1958) by Tom Godwin?

From Wikipedia:

A ship heading from Earth to Athena, a planet 500 light years away, is suddenly attacked by the Gerns, an alien empire in its expansion phase. People aboard are divided by the invaders into Acceptables and Rejects. The Acceptables would become slave labor for the Gerns on Athena, and the Rejects are forced ashore on the nearest 'Earth-like' planet, called Ragnarok. The Gerns say they will return for the Rejects, but the Rejects quickly realise that that isn't going to happen.

Ragnarok has a gravity 1.5 times that of Earth, and is populated by deadly, aggressive creatures and it contains little in the way of usable metal ores. This, combined with a terrible deadly fever that kills in hours, more than decimates the population.

The novels follows the stranded humans through several generations as they try to survive there, and their unswerving goal to repay the Gerns for their cruelty.


The book I remember is just like the one you describe. But I also remember little rodent like critters who could instantaneously commicate with another of its species in the voice of what it's mate just heard. These little guys bonded with the humans who picked them up. The title of the book is from the humans putting together a basic radio and the message they sent was, "Ragnarok Calling".

The book is part of Tom Godwin's Ragnarok series.

  • It's the same story. It has come up before; for a more detailed description (including the little telepathic critters) see the answer to this question.
    – user14111
    May 3, 2016 at 4:34
  • Ah, I see. The Survivors is part of the Ragnarok series.
    – Molag Bal
    May 3, 2016 at 4:50

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