13

Pretty sure it was a USA Paperback.

Man wakes up from a stasis chamber in a cave(?) finds himself in a deserted environment. (jungle/plains/river). He finds 2 other stasis chambers (they slow time as opposed to frozen cryo pods) in the cave containing 2 woman in primitive garb. One is a young (20ish) slim attractive homo-sapiens cave woman, and the other is an older (30s?) heavy set, unattractive neanderthal looking woman.

They do not speak each others language. Eventually he figures out that they are in a large (20x20 miles?/100x100 miles?) enclosed area on a planet (invisible walls or force fields) and that there are many of these enclosed areas on the planet. There are animals and fish to hunt and edible plants to gather for food (everything is earth-like). But the nearest enclosure had aliens and alien looking plants and animal life. [Don't remember if he journeyed to the other 3 borders to check them out, which is why I think it was 100x100 miles.]

I don't know if there was an info-panel in the cave he got the info from or if he was able hack it from a stasis pod. Pretty sure they use one stasis pod as a "refrigerator" when they kill large animals so the meat does not go bad.

Two things about the women I remember:

  • The Younger one was the quintessential gold-digger on steroids. If he did not have anything she wanted she ignored him, If he had something she wanted (food, clothes, weapon, shiny rock) she was kissing up and crawling all over him to get him to give it to her. If he did not want to (he needed it or there was not enough) she would fuss, an whine, and bitch and moan, scream, and pester him endlessly, until he gave her whatever she wanted. (Eventually it got to where after a few days/weeks(?) of her attitude he would have enough, and trick her into getting into a stasis chamber and leave her in it for a few days, so he could relax. When he would let her back out, she would not know how long it had been, and would only feel like she had just had a safe, good night's sleep.)
  • The older one was empathic, she could tell what others were feeling. (Pretty sure it was not telepathic, so she did not know exactly what he thinking) So if he was hungry, she would feel it and get him food, or water, or get weapons if he was feeling threatened by the wild animals, or tools or materials if he was trying to make something, or eagerly taking off her clothes if he was feeling "frisky".

I don't think it was actually a zoo, as I am pretty sure there were no visitors coming to look at the "animals" in the cages. Pretty sure it was more of a storage place of alien "Adams and Eves" to repopulate worlds who had failed.

Pretty sure there was a conflict involving the aliens in the next enclosure trying to break out of their enclosure and into his enclosure to attack the humans. I think he figured out that some of the enclosures had failed, (from the stasis chamber hacking or from finding an info panel) from aliens breaking into neighboring enclosures and destroying the lifeforms in it.

6
  • 1
    This feels quite familiar. I'm sure I read this (or part of it) back in the 80's, but unfortunately I can't recall any more detail than that what you already described. I hope someone can identify the novel, so it can go on my "to read again" llst.
    – Tonny
    Aug 10, 2023 at 11:59
  • Man-Kzin Wars II, Larry Niven, S. M. Stirling, Dean Ing, Jerry Pournelle. Aug 10, 2023 at 13:12
  • The story is called Briar Patch. It and Cathouse were expanded into a standalone novel from novella length IIRC. Aug 10, 2023 at 13:22
  • Throw in Childrens Hour and you had Houses of the Kzinti Aug 10, 2023 at 13:27
  • 1
    Yes I found "Briar Patch" short story in "The Houses of the Kzinti" collection, and although I miss remembered a few things, it IS the story I was thinking of.
    – NJohnny
    Aug 10, 2023 at 22:30

1 Answer 1

9

This isn't a perfect match, but it's close in many respects to "Briar Patch" (1989) by Dean Ing.

The protagonist, Locklear, doesn't wake up in stasis, though. He had previously been dumped on "Zoo" by a small Kzinti ship headed into battle and then negotiated passage to an Earth-like enclosure he called "Newduvai." (This happened in the prequel story "Cathouse.") Locklear hypothesizes that Zoo was constructed by the Outsiders since the spaces between the enclosures are in vacuum and very cold (the planet orbits a brown dwarf).

Zones are 100 miles across, enclosed by walls of force:

Then he was at the top of his trajectory, seeing the planetary curvature of Zoo, noting the tiny satellite sunlets that bathed hundred-mile-diameter regions in light, realizing that a warship could condemn any one of those circular regions to death with one well-placed shot against its synthetic, automated little sun. He was already past the circular force walls now, and felt an enormous temptation to slow the ship by main accumulator energy.

There is a room full of creatures in stasis cages:

He might have been back in the Kzersatz crypt: a quiet so deep his own breathing made echoe; the long obsidian central passage, with nine branches on each side, ending in a frost-covered force wall that filled the passageway. And the clear plastic containers ranked in the side passages were of three sizes on smooth metal bases, as expected. But Locklear took one look at the nearest specimen, spinning slowly in its stasis cage, and knew that here the resemblance to Kzersatz ended forever.

He finds Neanderthals in the furthest cages:

There were in fetal curls, and some of them boasted a lot of body hair. And each of them, Locklear realized, was human.

[...]

Men and women like these had first been studied in a river valley near old Dusseldorf, hardy folk who had preceded modern humans on Earth and, in all probability had intermarried with them until forty or fifty thousand years before. Locklear, rubbing at the gooseflesh on his arms, began to study each of the stasized nudes with great care. He would need every possible advantage because they would be disoriented, perhaps even furious, when they waked. And the last thing Locklear needed was to start off on the wrong foot with a frenzied Neanderthaler.

Locklear wakes two of the women in stasis; he picks the two most attractive: an adolescent and a young woman. He names the adolescent "Lolita" and the woman "Ruth." Ruth is a Neanderthal and partially telepathic, but Lolita is closer to modern human and is not:

Ruth turned quickly, with a shouted command and warning gestures, and Lolita dropped the sharpened stick she'd been carrying. Locklear knew beyond doubt that Lolita had made no sound in her approach. There was only one explanation that would fit all his data: Ruth unafraid of him from the first; offering herself as if she knew his desires; keeping track of Lolita without looking; and her uncanny speed in learning his language.

And that moment when she'd placed her hand on his head, with an inquiry that was somehow pitying. Now he copied her gesture with one hand on his own head, the other on hers, and lowered his head, eyes shut. "No," he said. "Locklear, no telepath. Ruth, yes?"

"Ruth, yes." She pointed to Lolita then. "No-telpat."

She needed another ten minutes of pantomime, attending to his words and obviously to his thoughts as he spoke them, to get her point across. Ruth was a "gentle," but like Locklear himself, Lolita was a "new."

Lolita actually wants to go into stasis:

Locklear guffawed at what he saw in the cabin: in the cage so recently vacated by Minuteman was Loli, revolving in the slow dance of stasis. Ruth explained, "Loli like little house, like sleep. Ruth like for Loli sleep. Many like for Loli sleep long time," she added darkly.

Locklear does use a stasis pod to keep meat:

For the next week, Locklear worked like a man demented. He used a stasis cage, as he had on Kzersatz, to store his remaining few hunks of smoked goat.

There is conflict in Newduvai and next door in Kzersatz (the Kzinti enclosure), but that is mostly with some human pirates who land and kill people (human and kzin) pretty much at random.

It's a longish novella, but not a complete novel, but it forms the first 2/3 of *Man-Kzin Wars II so it's easy to recall it as one. (Unless you read the fix-up novel Cathouse, which combines the two.)

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.