A group of people are exploring a huge spaceship. They are worried about supplies until they find cubbies that duplicate anything put into them. They discover this by someone placing their hand inside one of the cubbies and it duplicates their hand. Specifically, once something is placed in the cubby, whenever it is removed it is immediately replaced. So there's now always a hand in the cubby.

Definitely True

  1. Everything in the above paragraph
  2. Read it more than 10 years ago.

I think...

  1. I read it approximately 15 years ago. I have no idea how old it was when I read it.
  2. The ship was discovered in a glacier, or the arctic or something, which was reflected on the cover.
  3. It may have not been a spaceship exactly. I think there may have been interdimensional/tranporting doors and they were unable to go back the way they came.

I did not finish the book and would like to now, so I will not be able to answer clarification questions about later plot points and would prefer to avoid spoilers.

  • Elements of this remind me of Sphere; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphere_(novel)
    – Valorum
    Aug 20, 2014 at 17:30
  • @Richard Yes, it did have a very similar feel to Sphere. I wouldn't be surprised if it was partially inspired by Sphere. But Sphere was about studying a stationary object, this was more of a trek, they were exploring a large area.
    – Drew
    Aug 20, 2014 at 17:36
  • @user14111 They think they've found an alien spaceship, but it ends up being too big. As I say, I think it ends up being because there are dimensional doors or something like that. But the basic premise is "We found spaceship crashed on earth, let's explore it."
    – Drew
    Aug 21, 2014 at 13:00
  • Elements of this remind me of the short story Report on an Unidentified Space Station, but there's nothing in it about a hand.
    – Ed Brannin
    Feb 11, 2015 at 5:50
  • How do they get things out of the cubby without reaching into it?
    – user867
    Sep 9, 2015 at 7:52

2 Answers 2


Stranger Suns by George Zebrowski. Your description of the cover points to this edition.

George Zebrowski, Stranger Suns

This is from the back cover blurb, as quoted in a customer review at amazon.com:

Under the frozen ground of Antarctica lies the fantastic starship of a forgotten culture. Long dormant, it requires only passengers to awaken it . . . and Obrion's exploration team triggers the ship's launch. Prisoners in the empty craft, the four scientists find themselves reluctant, awestruck travelers through a universe where humankind has never ventured. And that is only the beginning: as Obrion and his companions explore the alien ship, they discover portals to an infinite number of variant Earths. The questions raised by these doorways are as innumerable as the worlds they access . . . but they only matter if Juan, Lena, Malachi, and Magnus can find their way back home.

And here is the discovery of the "duplicator cubbies". Lacking a copy of the book, I quote from the version in Amazing Stories, January 1991 (available at the Internet Archive) which may differ from the book version:

Magnus and the others stood before the wall of square cubbyholes, staring in silence. "This one here," he said.

Juan peered in. A bloody hand lay inside.

"As if freshly cut from my arm," Magnus said. "I put my hand in. The chamber glowed like the portals and there it was, down to the dirt under my fingernails. The principle seems an extension of the fluid doorways—direct manipulation of matter at the most basic level."

"Yummy," Lena said. "We'll bring all the food and water we have left, and all the scraps."

Magnus chuckled and pulled the hand from the chamber. "See, there's a mark where I wore my ring." He put the hand back. "If I take it out now, still another will appear."

"Did you have to use your hand?" Juan asked, feeling both relieved and repelled by the sight. "You might have lost it, for all you knew."

Lena nudged him. "Think what it means!"

"You have to take chances sometimes," Magnus said, "if you want to learn anything."

"Let's try it," Lena said. "I'm hungry."

Malachi gave them a sad look. "I should have saved one cigarette."

"Be happy you've quit," Lena said.

  • You are absolutely correct, that's the book and that is the cover. Thank you so much for finding and writing a great answer!
    – Drew
    Sep 22, 2015 at 14:00

I remember this novel : it's by Andre Norton. "galactic derelict"

  • 3
    Thanks for helping out. You should add some information to indicate why you think this work matches the one the original poster is seeking.
    – Praxis
    Sep 9, 2015 at 5:22
  • 1
    Can you please explain why you think that this is the book in question?
    – Wad Cheber
    Sep 9, 2015 at 5:22
  • 1
    Not "Galactic Derelict." That one had a lot mention of problems with food. What they had with them ran out so they tried eating what was available on the ship. I remember it well because Norton made a big deal of one of the guys being an apache indian, so he had to try the alien food first since (according to the story) apaches can eat damn near anything and survive. If they'd had a duplicator they'd have had enough to eat. Also, I'd remember something like a box that duplicates anything you put in it.
    – JRE
    Sep 9, 2015 at 9:13

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