Trying to identify this short story I read in maybe 1960's. The space travellers crash land on an uninhabited planet and soon realise the star will explode in the very near future. Their ship cannot be repaired. It's a case of find a way to move the planet or die. I don't remember the details of moving it but my brother remembers them radioing Space Control to say they are approaching earth and then wondering what to say when told 'adopt a holding position in orbit'.

  • 6
    You may be remembering "One Face" (1965) by Larry Niven. The Sun isn't about to go supernova -- it's come out of red giant phase and Earth is tidally locked to the Sun. It's necessary for the stranded people to get the Earth spinning again (a gargantuan task by itself) to unfreeze the atmosphere. The anthology I read it in, Convergent Series, also had stories about the Sun going supernova.
    – Spencer
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 15:44
  • Thanks. It's not that one as the planet was uninhabited - I've added that to the description.
    – Colin Kerr
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 16:19
  • ColinKerr So was the Earth by that point.
    – Spencer
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 16:56
  • OK but they get back to earth safely by piloting the planet. I wasn't going to spoil the ending by saying that. On second thoughts I'd better check that story, thanks.
    – Colin Kerr
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 17:17
  • 4
    Please, include all details, including spoiler ones. You can create a hidden "spoiler quote" using ">? " at the beginning of a paragraph of text.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


"Mother of Invention", a novella by Tom Godwin, also the (unaccepted) answer to an old question About an anti gravity drive on a planet with a heavy diamond content; first published in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1953, available at the Internet Archive. You may have read it in one of these compilations.

The landing is OK, but a mishap wrecks the spaceship while the crew are all out exploring the planet:

The Star Scout was broken in two.

Taylor stopped beside him, white and shaken.

"What . . . what was it?" someone asked. "What happened . . . how could it happen?"

"The converter blew up," Blake said, his lips feeling oddly stiff and numb. "It was my fault—I should have had brains enough to think about it before it was too late."

"What do you mean?" Cooke demanded.

"I left the blower going, driving cool air into the drive room. The air was loaded with the dust we stirred up when we landed, and that dust was mainly diamond dust."

The looming cosmic catastrophe is not an ordinary nova but a stellar collision:

"That's what you didn't tell us?" Lenson asked. "I don't understand—we'll either be long since gone from here, or long since dust, before our wandering binary reaches the nearest star of the Thousand Suns."

"I said the apparent advance of the yellow sun is accounted for by our own orbital movement," Taylor said. "There is no orbital movement of the yellow sun observable. This isn't a binary—the yellow sun is a member of the Thousand Suns."

"You mean—" Blake began.

"In approximately seven and a half months the two suns will collide."

"And our position in our orbit at that time?"

"We'll go into the yellow sun the radius of our orbit—four hundred million miles—in advance of the collision."

The return to New Earth:

Bob Redmond, control-tower radio operator of Spaceport 1, New Earth, was puzzled. He scratched his thinning hair and leaned closer to the speaker. The voice from it came in distinctly, but faintly.

[. . . .]

"That's what I'm trying to tell you and that's why we'll have to have an astrophysicist define our parking place. We didn't have time to repair our ship, and we couldn't inclose it in a gravitic field large enough to hold air for six months."

Redmond clutched his thinning hair again, feeling suddenly dizzy. "You don't mean—"

"Yeah. We brought the planet with us."

  • Thank you @user14111 - whether or not this is the correct answer, this is the story that was teasing my memory. Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 9:03
  • There's also an interesting detail at the start where an engineer died of a heart attack, and people assumed that because his tools were all neatly in the case he'd latched the converter cover down. It's a cautionary tale, since in practice he was so paranoid about the condition of his tools that he'd put them back in their padded cutouts after unlatching the cover and before starting to work on it. The inevitable result: the cover came loose. Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 12:46
  • Thank you ! That sounds like the one. Again I see my recollection of over 50 years ago is not precise.
    – Colin Kerr
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 15:30
  • (Ignoring the fact that it was written 5 years before the first artificial satellite) wouldn't astronomers, satellite and "space traffic controllers" notice a big new gravity source heading towards them.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 22:51

It’s a short question with the theme to go on.

Moving entire planets in the story I know of doesn’t have any exoplanets or crashes thereon; it is humans now living on all planets of the solar system moving all (then, it was published in 1934) nine of them to a new star before Sol goes nova.

"Thundering Worlds (1934) by Edmond Hamilton

All nine planets have been colonized by humans, but the sun is at the end of its life. People have already moved into living in domes as the sun is in the throes of becoming red and nearly dead, and would continue to do so anyway until life is impossible with no solar energy.

A Council of Nine, with one human from each planet, must unanimously decide to propel all planets (and their satellites) to the next suitable sun, ("as our sun is much nearer to other stars than in ages past"), or none will go.

“It has been proposed, therefore, that we cause our nine worlds to leave our dying sun and voyage across space to one of those other suns! That our nine planets be torn loose from our sun and steered out into space like nine great ships in quest of a new sun among the countless suns of the universe! That we carry out a colossal migration of worlds through the vast interstellar systems!”

Again, no crashed ship on an exoplanet, but Edmond Hamilton has his doughty humans move entire planets to several different stars.

Gives a new meaning to the Greek root word "planētēs" meaning "wanderer", doesn't it?

And the first stars they find aren't suitable to life, and they must move on! Hamilton has them waging truly interstellar war and space opera, before they find a suitable home sun.

  • I'll go back to ask my brother if he remembers more. I was telling him how amazing this site is and he asked about this story which I also remembered part of.
    – Colin Kerr
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 22:31
  • I found another recently, but it did not have the match of the threat of the sun going red giant and nova, as Hamilton's does. (Or if an exoplanet, another star going nova/supernova.) Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 22:47
  • It's not the sun.
    – Colin Kerr
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 23:07
  • I would have read it around the time I read "Ghost V" by Robert Sheckley. It was his kind of style as well. I see he wrote many and I can't tell from the titles if it's in there.
    – Colin Kerr
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 23:13

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