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I remember a science fiction paperback novel from the late 1970s or early 1980s about a planet that was known to be rich in minerals, but that each ship that approached the planet was stopped by some kind of force field.

That is until the pilot of a ship had a massive heart attack and died at the controls when the ship touched the field. The ship passed through the field without harm.

The problem arose when the ship was ready to leave......

Now each ship going to the planet carries two condemned prisoners to be executed at the moment the ship touches the field inbound and when it leaves.

But an officer aboard a ship finds out one of the prisoners is actually innocent.....

Any idea what this novel's name is or who wrote it?

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Deadman Switch by Timothy Zahn. One of the few Zahn books I don't own. Need to get a copy.

Deadman Switch

Because of the deadly effect sphere, the only way into or out of the system containing the metal-rich Ring Mines of Solitaire is by performing a human sacrifice. Now every ship heading there carries two death-row felons. It's a bizarre, but effective method of execution--until it's discovered that one of the doomed criminals is an innocent man.

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