A friend and I are trying to remember the title and author of a book we both read as kids in the 80s. It was about a group of students who go on a mission that's supposed to be some sort of survival test, but has been secretly taken over by their chaperone who has a secret agenda. The kids were eating some sort of protein bars that suppressed their hormones, until they ran out, at which point they paired off. Any help would be appreciated!

  • 1
    This is an old question, but I just stumbled across it. I also remember this book, and it's neither the Heinlein nor Follett listed below. Unfortunately, I can't remember the title or author either, but I think I do remember the names of the four young characters: Rom (short for Romula, the protagonist), Warren, Glaus, and Bitsy. I also remember that at one point they have to protect their spaceship from a stampede of local animals.
    – Buzz
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 2:19
  • @Otis: No, that definitely isn't it. Perhaps some day, this question will get a correct answer.
    – Buzz
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 3:01
  • @Buzz And now the question seems to have a correct answer: Danae says it's But We Are Not of Earth by Jean E. Karl, and a reviewer names the four characters as Rom, Waver, Bitsy, and Gloust, which is very close to what you had.
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 5:19
  • I'm glad somebody found the answer to this. I may want to track the book down for my kids now.
    – Buzz
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 14:53

4 Answers 4


That would be "But We Are Not Of Earth" by Jean E. Karl.

Four students from Meniscus F on a mission to the far-away Sector 22 delight in the habitable but uninhabited planet they discover until they realize their pod mentor has no intention of allowing them to leave.


  • Great job on this old question. Based on one of the reviews of the goodreads page, it even includes the 'protein bars' element... putting evidence of a particular, distinctive element in your answer may help convince people you've got the right one and not merely a similar one. Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 3:21
  • This Goodreads review by Anna Harris gives the characters' names "Rom, Waver, Bitsy, Gloust" in (close enough) agreement with the recollections in Buzz's comment.
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 5:15

The survival part of the story sounds a lot like Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein, though there is no chaperone or drugged protein bars that I can remember. Though it has been years since I last read this book.



Well the hormone-suppressing food and chaperones is straight out of the radio drama Earthsearch by James Follett. It's not a survival test, and it's not a book. However, Follett also did a novelization of the same name. Given the words on the cover art, its clear it was derived from the BBC radio serial.

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This is likely Laser Book #3 entitled Crash Landing on Iduna by Arthur Tofte, 1975, ISBN 0-373-72003-3. (A short-lived series of inexpensive science fiction books.)

The plot of Crash Landing on Iduna included a food supply that caused those who fed on the provisions to be what was believed to be "normal size". But the food actually stunted the growth of those who ate that food.

Because the younger children had not had the same exposure to the stunting food, they grew up to be much larger than their older brother. This disparity in size was only revealed toward the very end of the book.

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