A magazine connected with (Boy) Scouting, possibly "Boys Life", in the early 1950's ran a short story in which a group of interplanetary explorers on an extraterrestrial planet, which may have been postulated to have a breathable atmosphere, encountered a functional alien transport designed to travel across rough terrain.

The machine was half hidden or buried when a member of the team discovered it and when he reported back was asked to "roll it out." He replied, "It, 'er, walks."

The alien inventors turned out to be long gone. The machine resembled a large multi-legged insect. There may have been a drawing accompanying the story.

The link I'm attempting to add here may not work, but if it does it's the only source to the Boy's Life image of the alien walking machine that's currently accessible. Boy's Life issues from 1950 are not to be found. If the link works, open Boy's Life November 1950 issue and scroll down to page 21.


  • 2
    This sounds like 'Farmer In The Sky' by Roebrt Heinlein. Ganymede, one of Jupiters moons, is being terraformed. On an expedition a teenager discovers the machine in a cave full of crystals. – sueelleker Jul 13 '15 at 19:06
  • @sueelleker That one sprang to mind for me as well. Do you want to turn it into an answer, or should I? – SQB Jul 13 '15 at 19:09
  • 1
    And 'Farmer' was serialized in Boy's Life in 1950. – Organic Marble Jul 13 '15 at 19:21
  • Perfect! Best Sci-Fi Q & A site in existence! – Russell Jul 14 '15 at 19:13

"Call it a wagon. I think I can get it out, at least across the crystals. We could use it as a bridge."
"Well, roll it out."
"It doesn't roll. It, uh-well, it walks."


I don't know how to describe the walker wagon — maybe you've seen pictures since. If a centipede were a dinosaur and made of metal to boot, it would be a walker wagon. The body of it was a sort of trough and it was supported by thirty-eight legs, nineteen on a side.

That's from Farmer in the Sky by Robert Anson Heinlein. It's one of his juvies, books featuring a teenaged protagonist, written with an audience of the same age in mind.

Bill, a scout, emigrates with his father George and his father's new wife and her daughter (emigrants have to be married couples) to Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter, to escape an overcrowded earth.

While on a scouting trip on Ganymede, Bill and a friend of his discover the alien walker, evidence of a prior civilisation.

The isfdb notes:

Serialized in Boys' Life Aug-Nov 1950 as Satellite Scout.

Scouting indeed plays a major part in the book.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.