I read this old book when I was about 12 about a man who was least likely to survive but was stranded on an alien planet and had to copy the aliens who lived there to figure it out. The aliens were humanoid with large pot bellies and skinny legs I believe. He couldn't find water and watched them dig a little in the dirt and pull out plants that were full of water.

He also figured out that the aliens had sex to create anything they wanted, they just had to visualize it very detailed while it gestated. He ended up using that technique to get off the planet I think.

It was a long time ago that I read this, so I don't remember the details, but I think it was called something like "Panic Signal" or something like that. Amazon didn't turn up anything.

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    The book was old when you were 12, and just when were you 12? Is it a novel, or a short story in that old book? – ImaginaryEvents Apr 19 '15 at 21:31
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    Were you 12 in 1951, 1964, 1972, 1989, 1990, 2006, or 2014 by any chance? – Lexible Apr 19 '15 at 21:33
  • Going solely by title search at isfdb.org, could this be "Distress Signal" (1947) by Ross Rocklynne or "Distress Signals" (1991) by Scott McMillan and Katherine Kurtz? If not, you may have luck searching there on your own. Please be sure to post back if you find it! – Otis Oct 12 '15 at 15:04

It's probably Stress Pattern by Neal Jr Barrett (1974), which I read (French translation) a long time ago. The hero, Gavin, is an economic professor who crashes on an uncharted planet populated by autistic aliens and where the main means of transport is a stinky giant worm. He accidentally creates his female ideal simply by fantasizing near copulating aliens, and by the end of the book she gave birth to a spaceship. At some point, Gavin meets the supreme intelligence of the planet which has worldwide powerful telepathic influence and explains the strange behavior of the indigenous people.

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