I am looking for a science-fiction book that features genetic engineering, in a way. It is about a science team sent from Earth to an alien planet. On that planet, there used to live an intelligent species, but they are long gone. The team was sent there to explore why they vanished. They find out that the alien species went extinct because they valued “good genes” very much, and therefore bred themselves into extinction. One of the scientists actually builds a "suit" that he wears to emphasize and feel like the aliens! The team realizes that the ship, coming from Earth to take them back home, is not coming. They then decide to all get together to have as many kids with each other as possible in order to have enough genealogical diversity to kickstart a new civilization on the planet. However, they run into difficulties. Does anyone have a hint?

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    Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this and when do you think it might've been published? Also, do you recall anything about the cover? Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 11:46
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    I believe I read it in the late 80s or early 90s. I do not remember the cover. I now remember that one of the scientists was Muslim, so he did not want to have children with any woman he was not married to. I also remember that the scientist who was in the "suit" was so good at emphasizing that he/she actually felt the pain of those beings, with birth defects and in constant pain, but unable to stop because it was a social imperative to use the "best genes", thereby seriously limiting their gene pool.
    – Jay Konrad
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 12:04
  • There was an old game where you wrote a story. The game was "requiem for a lost world" or something similar. Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


This is Total Eclipse by John Brunner

As you remembered, it's about a human archeological expedition to a planet with extinct aliens, and the aliens were eventually discovered to have destroyed themselves by breeding themselves into "perfection".

This review discusses the suit you mention

He eventually comes up with a plan to make crab suit (!) to simulate the creature’s movements, way of visualizing the world, and even the psychological impact of the creature’s evolving sexual stages.

From the novel itself, this quote confirms the genetic theme:

We found out that the Draconians inbred to the point of simple genetic collapse because they used commitment to fertilise each other as the basis for their medium of exchange.

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    Andrew, you are a genius! Yes, that is it! Thanks so much!
    – Jay Konrad
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 9:05
  • I'm very glad to help
    – Andrew
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 10:41

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