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Trying to trace a short scifi story that appeared in print no later than the 1970s.

Premise is that an astronaut/pilot has crashed on a planet and lost most of his technology and memory. He does not remember being a pilot, but he is aware that there's another, hostile, being on the planet using higher technology.

Near the end of the story the pilot is triggered to remember who and what he is because while foraging he finds a small round object, ie his old helmet. He develops a plan to kill the other party and recover his technology.

He is then able to leave the planet.

help? help?

5

Perhaps "In the Bone" by Gordon R. Dickson from 1966?

This was published in a number of collections. Descriptions of the stories from each are listed below.

Points that match:

Trying to trace a short scifi story that appeared in print no later than the 1970s.

Check. Short story from 1966.

Premise is that an astronaut/pilot has crashed on a planet and lost most of his technology and memory.

Check. The protagonist is an explorer/astronaut whose powersuit is brought down crashing by the alien on the planet .

He does not remember being a pilot,

Check. Alien wipes his memory returning him to being a "beast".

... but he is aware that there's another, hostile, being on the planet using higher technology.

Check. The alien technology is much superior to the protagonists. Even as a "beast" he is aware of the alien.

Near the end of the story the pilot is triggered to remember who and what he is because while foraging he finds a small round object, ie his old helmet.

Partial check. In this story, the astronaut sees his old rusting powersuit equipment presumably including his old helmet, etc. But, it is when he sees his face in the river that he recognizes himself and starts coming out of his beast state.

He develops a plan to kill the other party and recover his technology.

Check. This particular plot point and how it works is somewhat similar to Frederic Brown's Arena.

Net, he finds an impenetrable barrier that kills any animal trying to get through. However, he finds that it stops at the top of the water on a small stream that goes under the barrier. He is able to get inside the barrier and successfully kills the alien gaining the technology.

At the end

He is then able to leave the planet.

Check. He learns how to pilot the alien ship back to orbit and returns to Earth.

In the Bone Collection

"In the Bone (1966) - 5/5 - Man technologically equipped to traverse the stars and explore new worlds finally meets another intelligence, who zaps him from the sky, disables his precious machinery and reverts the modern man back to his primal self to survive in the alien landscape in the shadow of the alien pyramid which struck him down. 22 pages "

Ancient My Enemy Collection

"In the Bone” Tied for the best story in the collection—Harry Brennan sets out to explore the galaxy in a fantastic mechanical contraption/body armor/spaceship/communication device. However, when he arrives on World 1242 a bizarre mechanized black pyramid object detaches him from his contraption and transforms him to an animalistic state. Filled with animal passions he is desperate to strike back at the pyramid with its animal catching devices and endless chambers. Dickson explores the traditional dichotomies man vs. machine, the primitive vs. the civilized, animalistic vs. sentient successfully. Recommended (reprinted in multiple collections)."

  • It can also be found in The Man From Earth and a couple of other places, according to the ISFDB bibliography page for that story. – user14111 Mar 28 '15 at 22:23
  • And it's available at the Internet Archive. – user14111 Mar 25 '17 at 18:50
3

This reminded me of "Planet of Forgetting" by James H Schmitz. I found it in the collection Original Edition of Edited Schmitz Stories, the edited version (by Erik Flint) is available here.

The main character, Major Wade Colgrove, starts the story on an unidentified swamp planet. He has amnesia, several months missing and no idea of what happened in the lost time - though he does remember who he is and what his profession is at the beginning of the story, there is also a time he mentions remembering before he recalled those facts. He also makes the assumption in the beginning of the story that he may have crashed on the planet and lost his technology - and memory - in that manner, though he later finds out he had been captured, escaped, and was evading when he lost his memory.

Colgrave regains his memory in stages during the story, but is not triggered by a helmet or any such thing - that point is not a great match, though the last bit of memory (which reveals how it was lost) is revealed when he finds the technology he had hidden, which might be close enough.

There are indeed hostile forces on the planet, chasing him for the information he carries. Towards the end of the story, he does find his pursuers, develop a plan and outwit them, kill some and capture others, and regain the technology they were fighting over from where he'd hidden it. He is then able to leave the planet and return to his organization.

The memory loss, in the end, was caused by

the creatures of the planet he was on. Their defense was to cause amnesia when a creature or person signaled intent-to-harm, at first just forgetting their intended strike, but loosing more and more of their memory if they continued attempting violence

The story also contains, near the end, a description of several of his pursuers needing to be captured/rescued from the swamp, because they would not stop attacking until their entire memory was gone, leaving them not even knowing themselves. It is possible the combination of this description and the mention near the start of the story of the time Colgrove had spent as a total amnesiac could lead to the description of the main character not even remembering he is a pilot.

It isn't a perfect match, but it seemed like it might be close enough to suggest - especially since the other answer has not been accepted.

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