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Ask a Science Fiction Expert

It’s the middle of the night. You’re tossing, turning. You just can’t get it out of your head. “Stop messing with my mind!” you yell, waking your significant other shortly before they hit you over the head with the pillow. Sheepishly, you apologize. “Sorry, honey. I just can’t think of the name of that science fiction book I read when I was ten.”

Before your meet Mr. Divorce, allow me to introduce All Experts’ Science Fiction book experts. A panel of self-proclaimed sf experts eager to answer any and all science fiction related queries. Or, if you don’t have a specific question, you can troll previously asked questions and test your own science fiction knowledge.

I wouldn’t call it a hugely popular site – there are only about 50 questions asked in the last 5 years, but some of them were at least recently asked.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

92 Comments on Ask a Science Fiction Expert

  1. Mark Fohs // May 17, 2005 at 1:21 pm //

    Ok, This is so great I found you kindred spirits…Your example above is exactly my problem. I have tried for years to remember the first SF book that started it all…I was 8 but the book was a higher level than that…published in the late 1940s or 1950s…I’ve thought it might have been an Asimov or Heinlein Juvie but don’t really know… It was about Mars and a boy…I think there was a cave and I think Martians…I know these are all common themes for these books except I remember he also went to Phobos and Deimos.

    I’m afraid that’s all my 1960s and 70s traveled brain remembers. Anybody who can shed light on this I would be extremely grateful….

    Thanks much


  2. Hi, I remember reading a story time ago centered around some scientist trying to find a cure afaik for mass hysteria or something. I remember there wer towers mentioned in the story that kept the people away and this scientist was also dependant on some sort of drug. He manages to find the cure and then the story reveals that in fact the scientist had been put to sleep afaik and in an imaginary world with a problem that could eventually really happen.

    I would appreciate any insight on title/author. Thanks a lot for your help.

    Nich.. Malta


    ::toss & turn trying to remember the name::

  3. There is a story about a group of scientists looking for turtles, but can’t ever find them because the turtle’s defense is to cause a memory lapse in predators. Any help would be appreciated.

  4. It’s turtles all the way down.


  5. Alan Blyton // January 11, 2007 at 9:34 am //


    I’m delighted to have found your site, as I am trying to find a short science fiction story that I read as a child.

    Since I’m afraid I can’t remember its title, or the author, I therefore wanted to ask an expert whether it rang any bells with them.

    It basically involves a man who’s wife has given birth to a child and when he visits her, he is horrified to find that his ‘son’ is actually a pyramid, with tentacles instead of arms. The doctors christen the child ‘Pi’ and work out that it must have slipped into our realm from another dimension.

    In a nutshell, in order to live together as a family, the husband and wife agree to be transported to Pi’s dimension, where they will all appear as normal human beings to each other, although in reality they will take on forms like Pi’s.

    If you can offer any assistance as to the name of this story or its author, I would be extremely grateful.

    Many thanks in advance,

    Alan Blyton

  6. I am trying to figure out two stories I read as a young adult. One was about a child who apparently was a monster whose family kept it under the basement stairs. It broke my heart and I want to read it again!!! The other is about a scientist who made a machine that could hear sounds outside of the normal range and could hear grass screaming as it was cut.

    I have been searching all over the net but no luck.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks, Anne

  7. Folks, it should be noted that is isn’t this site that answers questions like this, but the one linked to in the story. I’m afraid that you’re shooting in the dark over here. I’m not going to call myself a sci-fi expert any time soon – I’ve read so little compared to what I’d like to read.

  8. Craig C // June 26, 2007 at 8:23 am //

    Have a story running through my head that I cannot remember the title to.

    The premise: Earth has been conquered by an alien race. The race is headquartered in Los Angeles and I seem to recall that they like a sauna type of environment a little warmer than our normal temperature.

    There is a bit of a resistance and the alien governor is under military pressure to crackdown. Well the twist is that there is an even more insidious powerful alien on the way to destroy the earth.

    The alien invaders and the resistance must team up to stop the destruction of the earth. The alien occupiers think that there is not really much hope of stopping the worst aliens who travel faster than light and exit through the sun’s corona.

    An ambassador for the really bad aliens travels to the solar system and meets with the alien occupiers and at least one human. The really bad alien ambassador must kill himself after having any discourse with another alien and pretty much disintigrates after proclaiming the earth’s doom.

    The earth resistance comes up with the idea of attacking the really evil aliens when the exit the sun’s corona and may be vulnerable.

    Any help would be appreciated!



  9. R.J.Hawkins // July 7, 2007 at 3:16 pm //

    Hello sci-fi friends,

    My wife & I read a sci-fi paperback a number of years ago which we loved. Inadvertantly it was lost. We have since tried to obtain another copy to no avail! For some reason we both had the same title in mind, that being, ‘THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH’ We found a copy in a s/h shop, but our hopes were dashed. IT WAS THE WRONG STORY! Perhaps you can help. I will outline the story for you. It may ring a bell somewhere. Here goes:- It all started with an alien war on some distant planet. An alien space craft was badly damaged, its occupant mortally injured. We assume the craft was not controlable. Anyway the craft heads off into deep space, eventually arriving at earth. The space craft crash lands on someones farm. The farmer investigates, finds the craft and its alien occupant. The alien (a hidious creature to the farmer), reaches out for help, but the farmer misunderstands the aliens intentions, and blasts the alien with his 12bore shot gun. Before it dies, the alien triggers a divice in its craft that turns all of nature against all human life. So starts a teriffic story of humans trying to survive the wrath of nature………..! We read this story about 30yrs ago. I hope this is enough info: to give you a guide. Many thanks, R.J.Hawkins.

  10. Judy Ruhlin // September 13, 2007 at 12:12 am //

    I remember a story from my childhood in the 60s and early 70s. I can see very vivid images in my memory so it might have been broadcast. Perhaps Billy Mumy played the young man.

    The story starts out with parents worrying that their son does not go outside to play enough. Kids have to take an IQ test when they are somewhere about 8 to 12 years old. If the child scores too HIGH (which the kid in the story does), the child is terminated and the parents are notified where they can pick up the body. I seem to recall there being some sort of government propaganda speech discussing the dangers of high IQ.

    I have discussed this story line with students in my math and Physics classes for 22 years. I’ve even managed to make my 25 year old son obsessed with this. I want to know who wrote it and what the title is. I’d love to read the story or screenplay or see the video.

    I’m so obsessed with finding this information I’ve contemplated writing the story myself and getting it published just so I’d get the information I need from the copyright infringement lawsuit.

    Please HELP me if you can.

  11. Anne’s story:

    The other is about a scientist who made a machine that could hear sounds outside of the normal range and could hear grass screaming as it was cut.

    is The Sound Machine by Roald Dahl

  12. I’ve been trying . . . second year now, to run down a sci fi movie I saw as > a kid. I’ve ran down virtually every single SF made in the fifties and STILL can’t find it. There were about four movies I remembered seeing and being impressed with at a very young age. All SF. Over the years I’ve found all but one. I ran across one accidentally on Xmas Eve a few years back (Creature With The Atomic Brain) and made a copy of it. It was a great Xmas surprise for me. I like seeing how my memory matches up with the reality of the movie. The scenes that stuck with me were almost exactly as I remembered. A

    Anyway, here are my distinct memories of the movie I’m searching for. It opens with a creepy SF therim soundtrack (pretty sure on this) and the view of a metropolitan city, probably New York. As the credits roll, the camera slowly comes closer down to the city. Then, a man awakes from a hangover and finds himself alone and the city apparently deserted. He eventually stumbles on a few others who for various reasons are in the same boat as him. Something is stalking them. It turns out to be a robot, human-sized if memory serves, which has one round eye in its head. From this eye it emits

    a ray which disintegrates whatever it is focused on. The army finally comes in and destroys the robot.

    That’s all I definitely remember. I was maybe six to eight years old when I saw this, putting it somewhere in the early or mid-fifties. I’ve seen it one time in my life, but am absolutely firm on the details I listed above. So far, after exhaustive research, I can no plot synopsis that fits it, no movie description that

    corresponds to it. I’ve looked and looked, and will look some more.

    It’s now a quest type of thing. If anyone has a clue that can help me, I would certainly appreciate it.

  13. Michael E. Castle // December 26, 2007 at 5:25 pm //

    I have been searching for a book I read back in college. And I’m 57 so that will tell you how far back you’ll have to reach.

    I do Not know the Title or Author.

    The premise of the book centers around a male character who rides a motorcycle on rails. These rails are on a vertical world. The point of it all is he is on the outside whereas everyone else is on the inside and for some bizarre reason, the authority on the inside want him.

    The name Joseph Clifford Faust sticks in this aged brain of mine, but I cannot associate anything I’ve found on the web of this author with that novel.

    I’m at a loss.

    I’m hoping some science fiction guru out there can help me out.


  14. Michael, your motorcycle novel might be “Farewell Horizontal” by K.W. Jeter. Societies of outcasts love on the outside of skyscrapers – some have special motorcycles that allow them to come and go.

    Hope this helps. The only other thing I can offer is that the novel you describe was not one of mine .

  15. Chris Geller // March 27, 2008 at 8:08 am //

    I’m looking for a sci-fi story I read long ago. The premise was that the Earth is someone’s Master’s thesis. One detail is that a city (perhaps South-side Chicago) was found unacceptable and had to be re-done. The protagonist peeks outside his car window while driving out of the area and sees everything as an opaque fog.

    If anyone knows the author and title of this story, I would appreciate learning it.

    Chris Geller

  16. Cay Layton // March 29, 2008 at 10:55 am //

    Help—-all you science fiction experts!

    I read a story (I believe it was a book, not just a short story, maybe not) in the late 70’s or early 80’s. I do not know the title or author. But it was a way cool and I WANT TO FIND IT!

    Basically there were 2 perspectives of the story, I think 2 different dimensions. On one side was someone like us, either experimenting or fooling around and has made some kind of contact or communication with ‘another world or dimension’ and does certain things in reaction to that. On the other side, the ‘alien’ side we see that being’s reaction to communicating with one like us. I know this is vague, but man, I would love to get this found………. Thanks Cay

  17. jdseizer // April 25, 2008 at 4:02 am //

    Can you identify a book for me? I once read a book about a sociologist who went on a trip to study a mountain civilization it also had to do with mountain climbing and a mountain of ice.

  18. Dave Nibel // May 24, 2008 at 5:11 pm //

    Sorry about that last post…:-S Anyway, I have a mystery that has plagued me for over 30 years–sometime in the early 70’s I read a story titled “Yesterday Was Tuesday” in a paperback anthology of science fiction short stories. I ABSOLUTELY loved that story, but I haven’t seen it since, despite some rather intense searching. If you guys could help at all, I would GREATLY appreciate it!!!

  19. What’s the premise of the story? Are you maybe thinking of “The Sliced-Crosswise Only-On-Tuesday World” (1971) by Philip JosΓ© Farmer?

  20. Dave Nibel // May 28, 2008 at 5:43 pm //

    I don’t remember the entire plot, but it involved the protagonist going to bed on what I believe was a Monday night & woke up very early in the morning. He found creatures, for lack of a better world, constructing all the things familiar to him, i.e. his house, the neighborhood, the town, etc., suggesting that the whole world was deconstructed during his sleep. He ended up somehow asking what day it was, or stating that today was Tuesday, and was told (I can’t remember if it was from another human or one of the “creatures”) that “Yesterday was Tuesday”.

    Thanks for your help!!

  21. Dave, I cast you query out to a wider audience.

  22. Many, many thanks, John–the story I have been searching for over the past 3 decades was identified as “Yesterday Was Monday” by Theodore Sturgeon. I could not have found it without your help and the help of this forum!

  23. You’re welcome, but don’t thank me ! Thank our knowledgeable readers! πŸ™‚

  24. I remember reading a story, perhaps by Clarke, Heinlien, Asimov, or

    Vonnegut, in the 70s or 80s, in which was described a galaxy (our

    own) that had many star systems colonized, and over a number of

    centuries you could look at a map of the worlds, and watch them

    wink out one by one because genetic manipulation had been done

    and a robust copy of the human genome had not been preserved.

    That’s about all I remember of the story, but it stuck with me

    for some reason.

    Thank you.

  25. i’m trying to find a short story that might have won/been a forerunner to one of the major sci fi awards. it’s called like “you got pwnzrd” or something like that, and it’s about a man whose best friend dies, and who then himself is sent to the hospital where he encounters his friend again; the government has developed technology to keep bodies youthful. thanks in advance

  26. I think you are looking for “0wnz0red” by Cory Doctorow.

    “Programmers who hack their own bodies don’t need exercise and never get sick.”

  27. Nikita Tokmakov // September 4, 2008 at 12:43 pm //

    About a man who is imprisoned on this most hellish prison planet. Recruited and given a new identity in order to assassinate a galactic president candidate (or somebody else important on that scale). Carries out the assassination on board a space station with the help of a very lovely and irrisistibly seductive lady. The woman helps him escape the space station but – evidently – doesn’t escape herself. I seem to remember she had silvery skin, but that might be my imagination.

    I searched with Google for hours, but didn’t turn up with anything.
    All information (site, author, title, names of characters, addition detail) will be graciously accepted.

  28. Nikita Tokmakov // September 4, 2008 at 12:48 pm //

    Cay Layton.

    Perhaps you mean Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. It definately answers your (pretty vague) description.


  29. I’ve been trying to find a story I read in an anthology in the 80s that was likely originally published in the 50s or 60s. The plot has to do with an African American inventor who is killed by a racist sherriff or deputy in the deep south. After the inventor is killed, his latest gadet, a gravity powered radio, is destroyed by the killer, thus denying humanity an incredible new technology. I seem to think that the story is called “Strange Fruit” after the Billie Holiday song yet I can’t find it anywhere.


    Thanks in advance for your help,


  30. Dave, perhaps you’re thinking of “Mute Milton” by Harry Harrison (written in 1966 and reviewed here)? 

  31. Hi John,


    I think that’s it; I read everything I could get my hands on by Harry Harrison around that time, after being introduced to him via the Stainless Steel Rat series. Thanks for your help.



  32. Christopher // November 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm //

    I have one that’s been driving me nuts for a long time:

    Was a short story about a man who is captured by aliens, because every million years or so the humans take over the galaxy and have to be beat back by the other races, but the humans always survive somehow and come back.  So the aliens capture a human to study…he escapes with an alien spaceship and heads back to earth and the aliens are like, ‘oops’.

    Or something like that.  I read it in a ‘Top SF Stories of the Year’ compendium or something like that way back when.

  33. Hi.  Great site.   I am trying to remember a short scifistory from decades ago.

    Aliens came to Earth when humanity was extinct.  They had the power to resurrect people,

    so they went to a musem of some kind and resurrected an Egyptian and a 20th century drunk to get

    info. and then killed them.  The next guy was too smart for them so they killed him (with a nuke?)

    but the final guy was able to use mind powers to get to their spaceship and sabotage their

    engineering.  I don’t remember much else, but that plot stayed with me.  I think the aliens were

    lizard like (but many are, so probably doesn’t help> LOL)

  34. Rainn Black // March 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm //

    Can someone help me with this? My memory is sketchy but I saw this on TV or it was a rented movie in the mid to later 80’s. In a nut shell the story was about a salesman who is in a rush. He becomes lost driving on a country road. He eventually comes to a fork in the road where there is a tiny town which is nothing more than a roadside diner and a population sign. He enters the diner to ask for directions but the guy behind the counter just asks him to stay and enjoy a nice meal. The salesman refuses and explains he is in a rush to get somewhere. Frustrated he leaves and takes the right fork in the road. The next scene shows him coming back up the left fork of the road back to the diner. He drives back the way he initially came only to end up coming back down the right fork in the road. Anyways, he eventually goes nuts trying to get out of there and in the end he ends up in the diner, finally accepting his fate and sitting down to eat the hot meal. The next scene shows the population sign magically change from 21 to 22 (something like that anyways). The end.

    I believe this was a short that was part of a movie or tv show featuring sci-fi (twilight zone) type stories. I can’t be sure when it was made. I am sure it is not anything obvious or popular and for sure not Twilight Zone or Stephen King.

  35. Now that Watchmen is all the rage once again, I’m going to make another attempt to find this novel.  It was out in paperback in 1974/1975.

    Plot: The USA is about to fall apart.  The President has a plan.  He hires people to design a spacecraft and biologically engineer what looks like the aliens driving it.  He intends to crash it into a city.  Then the nation will be alarmed and unite against a common enemy.

    What he hasn’t told most everyone is that the crash will also release a toxin of some kind and kill millions.

    So all of the designers on the project are murdered.  The fake UFO crash goes off without a hitch.  Millions die, but the USA is safe.

    Except the books ends with vital information, sneaked out by one of the designers before his death, getting into the hands of a girl who is a student radical.

    Now you know why I wasn’t blown away by the ending when I read the graphic novel all those years ago.

    Anyway, looking for that book… Thanks in advance!

  36. Robert Dalley // April 5, 2009 at 8:38 pm //

    I was looking over some of your past questions and I think I can help on one of them


    Posted by Michael on Tuesday December 04, 2007 at 7:34 AM at 7:34 AM

    He wanted to know what the name of movie he was describing.  I belive it is Target Earth.  I didn’t see where his quesitons had been answered and since you have access to the emails, I thought you might want to update him.  I will be sending my own question about a Sci-fi book shortly.


    Bob Dalley


  37. Len Schubert // April 13, 2009 at 4:46 pm //

    Somewhere between 1955 and 1963 I read the first instalment of a serialized novel or novella called “The Purple Robe”, in a sci-fi periodical (maybe Amazing Stories, or something in that genre). The story was about a secret society, off in some remote headquarters, whose members were trained from early on in various physical and mental arts that gave them near superhuman powers, including telephathic and telekinetic ones. After completion of training over many years, members went out into the world with the goal of combatting an evil, powerful network of manipulative overlords, whom they detected through their mental powers. The story centered around a particular one of the secret society members, as he ventures out and encounters his first adversary, engaging him in a battle of telepathic powers.

    And that’s as far as the instalment went, and I’ve wanted to finish reading the story ever since, but don’t even know who wrote it! Googling “The Purple Robe” just gives false alarms — Joseph Hocking’s 1908 (or 1914) novel of that name (or maybe it was written by his brother Silas Hocking), but those guys were ministers writing Christ-related stories; another false alarm is a painting of that name by Matisse…

    Thanks to anyone who can enlighten me!

  38. alien with red t-shirt // April 24, 2009 at 8:08 am //

    Ive got a really important question:

    does anyone know the name of that alien film, probably from 80s, where the aliens cup their hand under their chins and go ‘ooooooooooo’ to communicate?

  39. Mark Rupert // April 28, 2009 at 5:58 pm //

    Looking for 1950″s sci-Fi individual show that had a party climbing a mountain where strange lights are seen, and then they find the body of a dead alien, and then one of the party offers his weapon to the alien saucer and he is beamed up, the rest of the party escape….

  40. Suki Falstaff Johansan // May 30, 2009 at 5:02 am //

    <!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 90.0pt 72.0pt 90.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>


    Novel titled “ONE” dystopian science fiction similar to 1984. Author’s name forgotten.


    A number of years ago I read a paperback novel titled “ONE” which was dystopian science fiction similar to 1984 or The Electric Crocodile (DG Compton) or Mockingbird (Walter Tevis) or Fahrenheit 911. On the back cover it actually made comparisons to 1984. The situation in the novel is one of brainwashing and mind control (very bureaucratic state control) regarding an academic rebel. This is not a horror novel. It is pure sci-fi set in the not too distant future. I think the novel may have been set in the UK and maybe the author was UK born too but I am not sure. I seem to remember there was a quote on the back cover regarding a UK newspaper review, which described ONE as a more realistic and obscure take on the 1984 genre. Due to the utter lack of valid search results I am even beginning to doubt the title is “ONE” but I am 99.9% sure it is “ONE” and it’s a simply a shame I cannot remember the authors name. Please can you supply the name of the author? Possibly this book was written in 1970 give or take 15 years (I think I would put it on the more recent side of 1970 possibly as recent as 1988). I also think, but I’m definitely not sure about this, the publisher was Penguin.


    I’ve already asked one expert but they could find no relevant title of “ONE”. The more I think about it, the more positive I am that ONE is the title because I remember when I picked up the book and read it I was struck by the unusualness of the title. Sadly while I was reading the book (it was second-hand) the pages were falling about and by the end of the book it was in such a state of disrepair that I threw it away.


    Some “ONE” book titles that are not relevant are:

    One Volume 1 by Lee Vin.

    One by Richard Bach.

    One by Conrad Williams.


    PS. I think the title “ONE” was supposed to symbolise the TOTALITY of the totalitarianism.




    Suki Falstaff Johansan

  41. Suki Falstaff Johansan // May 30, 2009 at 6:48 am //

    It’s OK, I’ve found it now, I was a bit wrong on the date first published, here are the details for anyone interested.


    One by David Karp

  42. Adam Reith // August 3, 2009 at 9:17 am //

    Hello Forum members. Can you help please? I read a Sci-fi book sometime ago about a prison planet. Following a war between Earth and another planet(s) a captured, very high ranking Earth officer, possibly a Sector Marshall, is put onto a prison planet. He helps the other prisoners build a fake crashed alien spaceship on the suface which is spotted by an orbiting alien guard space station. The aliens send down a rescue ship thinking one of their own spaceships has crash landed and a group of Earth prisoners takes over the rescue ship and goes up to the space station. The prisoners have also made spacesuits using local materials including withe and glue for helmets. The officer knew that at the time he was captured things were not going well on Earth and I think it ends with the ex-prisoners deciding to find a new planet for themselves to settle on instead of trying to get back to the Earth. Any clues about a title and author? Many thanks.

  43. Hi,

    Have also question.

    It’s starting with 2 people from Earth traveling thru space and reaching a planet.(It’s the first mission to an other star)

    When they reach the planet(star) they are arrested and the aliens are telling them about an other race. That race was very cruel. When the two from Earth ask if that race is still alive, the alien tell them we just found them again. end of story.

    Some one knows title or writer




  44. Harry van Ekert // September 7, 2009 at 8:49 am //

    Dear SF Friends,

    I have a problem too in finding a book that I read as a 14 year old boy some 35 years back. I now want to infect my son with the SF virus, but do not know the title or author anymore. I do remember that I thought it was a great and exciting book. It was a series of at least 2 but probably 3 books. Here is what I remember from the story (I read it in my native language, Dutch, but am sure that it was an English/American writer!)

    A boy fins out that the world is infiltrated with aliens who keep the population under control with the help of a kind of helmets. Everybody is obliged to wear these. In these helmets there are wires that “are in contact with the brain” and can influence its wearers thinking and behaving. Our hero finds out (with the help of a group of friends?) that by wearing a fake helmet, one can fool the aliens. He sets up a kind of resistance group and starts to sabotage the system the aliens are trying to set up. I remember that on the cover of the book aliens where shown that resemble those from “War of the Worlds”…

    Anybody who could help me, would make me very happy!!!



  45. Anyone know this?

    I read a book many, many years ago that I’d like to read again.  It was about an astronaut who is alone on a planet with brutal climate changes.  Somehow, he survives and finds a city under the ice.



  46. Katerina // April 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm //

    Has anyone answered the question of Judy Ruhlin posted on Thursday September 13, 2007?

    I am desperately trying to find that short-story (?) on intelligence testing.

    Thank you!


  47. I’ve been looking for this story for at least fifteen years! I didn’t see an answer, but would really appreciate one. Kind of neat that someone else was impressed with it, too. I’ve been regretting for a long time not looking at the author’s name. Help!

    “Hi.  Great site.   I am trying to remember a short scifistory from decades ago.

    Aliens came to Earth when humanity was extinct.  They had the power to resurrect people,

    so they went to a musem of some kind and resurrected an Egyptian and a 20th century drunk to get

    info. and then killed them.  The next guy was too smart for them so they killed him (with a nuke?)

    but the final guy was able to use mind powers to get to their spaceship and sabotage their

    engineering.  I don’t remember much else, but that plot stayed with me.  I think the aliens were

    lizard like (but many are, so probably doesn’t help> LOL)


    Posted by Steve on Friday February 13, 2009 at 4:13 PM

  48. David McCab // May 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm //

    Dear SF experts,


    What was the first use of “prison planet”?


    Thank you!

  49. As noted above, we’re not the experts here. 

    That said, a little Googling reveals some early examples:

    • 1960 -The Status Civilization on the planet Omega.
    • 1961 – A Planet Named Shayol from Cordwainer Smith’s stories.
  50. VERN!  I FOUND IT.  A E van Vogt, Resurrection (AKA Monster I think) 1948. 
    Appears in some of his anthologies.    It took a LONG time to find it, haha. 
    The aliens were Captian Gorsid and Enash.  WE were the monsters, lol. 

    I’ve been looking for this story for at least fifteen years! I didn’t see an answer, but would really appreciate one. Kind of neat that someone else was impressed with it, too. I’ve been regretting for a long time not looking at the author’s name. Help!

    “Hi.  Great site.   I am trying to remember a short scifistory from decades ago.

    Aliens came to Earth when humanity was extinct.  They had the power to resurrect people,

    so they went to a musem of some kind and resurrected an Egyptian and a 20th century drunk to get

    info. and then killed them.  The next guy was too smart for them so they killed him (with a nuke?)

    but the final guy was able to use mind powers to get to their spaceship and sabotage their

    engineering.  I don’t remember much else, but that plot stayed with me.  I think the aliens were

    lizard like (but many are, so probably doesn’t help> LOL)


    Posted by Steve on Friday February 13, 2009 at 4:13 PM

  51. Saw this movie either on cable or rented within the last year.  Don’t remember much of the details..(I tend to fall asleep alot) Aliens come to earth and have spaceships hovering over most of the major cities..(which later proves to be an illusion)  They are technically advanced.. they’re tall thin grey creatures and everyone on earth is scared of what will happen.  It is mind control and hysteria at best.

    Some guy volunteers to go with them to their planet so they can study him.  He realizes it will take 70 years in real time to get there but that when they return him to earth only a few days will have past in HIS life.  All the people he knows have aged and/or died.  

    I can’t remember the name of the movie and it’s driving me crazy

    • When I read your question Arthur C. Clark’s “Childhood’s End” came to mind. While there are major differences in the scenario you describe there are also major similarities. In “Childhood’s End” large spacecraft appear over every major city on earth. At first the aliens do not show themselves but when they do they turn out to look like every description in history of Satin… horns, pointed tail, leathery wings. During the novel one person decides to stow away in the belly of a whale that has been taxidermied and being shipped back to alien’s home planet. By the time he returns to earth many years have passed and he arrives just in time to see what is in store for the human race (I don’t want to spoil the whole book if you haven’t read it.).

  52. Greetings, Sci-Fi lovers from all over the world! πŸ™‚

    Allow me to introduce myself, first of all. My (sur-)name is Silviu (for now…); I live in Bucharest, and I’m a 27-years-old cine- and TV shows-maniac. πŸ˜€
    Now, I’m looking for *four* (very) mysterious Sci-Fi & Fantasy movies (with New Age-like “flavour”, here and there…), from the early-to-mid eighties (if not from the second half of the seventies, even!), namely:

    1.) This one’s about a group of sharlatans (not positive) who give “signs” to another group of people (this time, one of townfolks), who expect their Salvation to come from *aliens* or… from *future humans*. Throughout the movie, there is a blue, laser-/holo-generated pentagram that keeps on appearing in the sky and… the “aliens” hologram talking to them and guiding them to a “haven”. So, a mid ’70s (or early ’80s) New Age-like B-class; a flick, as you, Americans, say. πŸ˜›

    2.) The second, revolves around a comet or an asteroid that… eventually hits us πŸ™‚ , and Earth becomes much like Saturn (it gets rings! :P); as for the New Humans, they are all Yogis-like. Again, a mid ’70s (or early ’80s) flick.

    3.)  The third’s about a dystopian future society of human males and sexual *head-shaved* fembots on a space station… A group of males eventually escapes and they land on Earth in a “Virgin-One“-like of shuttle-craft… Oh, and the security men (or fembots?) were having crazy, vacuum cleaners-like ‘blasters’! πŸ˜› It was back in the early-to-mid ’70s, methinks.

    4.)  Now, this one’s… a bit odd. πŸ˜› This one’s about an alien spaceship in the shape of a dragon, hidden below the Himalayas, and activated by a young child-monk via a golden sphereThe child-monk was rescued by aye… truck driver(?!) from the slaughtering of his fellow monks, or something. Anyway, in the end, the ship turns flamery (ie, holograms) and vanishes at warp speed. πŸ˜› The mid ’80s, for sure!


    Thank you 1 ZILLION times, in advance!

  53. Hi  


    In a fabulous science fiction book, two people were talking but under the table and out of sight of the inevitable security and snoop cameras they used their hands to deliver the real meaning of their words.


    Does anyone know the name of the book? 


    Regards   Bill

  54. My girlfriend saw a movie she was interested in seeing on 08/07/10 on the syfy channel. We had to run out the door and do some things, but now she really wants to see it. The scene she did see had some people in a tent, then what looked like a bear tore into it. Is there any chance someone might know what movie this might be? I would appreciate any assistance at all, even guesses.

  55. TechChick // August 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm //

    I hope you can help me track down a long lost sci fi book.  Between 1988 and 1992 I found a beat up sci fi paperback in a vacant house.  The story featured an alternate universe where airships were a prominent means of travel.  The end of the book revealed that Satan had always represented mankind’s interest while God had been playing a cruel joke on the human race.  The protagonist was a man, and he may been traveling between multiple alternate universes. 

    I know this isn’t much to go on, as I have Googled extensively trying to find the book’s title.  I am hoping one of your experts will recognize the book and know the title. 

    Thank you for offering your expertise to help others find long lost science fiction titles.

    EDIT 2014/11/28 – Mark S. writes in to tell us that “The answer is: Job: A Comedy of Justice is a novel by Robert A. Heinlein published in 1984.”

  56. Hi. I’m trying to track down a sci-fi novel which I read as a child in the mid-1960’s. I don’t know if it was a fairly recent book then or whether it had been around for a while. It was set on Mars and involved some men (boys?) who were involved with some sort of rebellion against the establishment. The main thing which sticks in my mind is that they managed to make, out of old parts, an AM transmitter-receiver to communicate between the various rebel groups. Because the establishment used FM radio to communicate (presumably that far in the future, AM was considered unusably outdated), the rebels’ AM radio communications could not be detected. There was also mention of travelling in some sort of boat along the Martian canals.

    If anybody can help me, I would be delighted. The novel might have been a Heinlein, as I read a few of his stories then, but I honestly don’t know.

  57. Sounds a bit like Red Planet.

  58. Thanks. I’ll try that as a starting point – there’s bound to be some copies on eBay. After I’ve read it, I’ll let you know whether that was it or not.

  59. Hi. I picked up a copy of Red Planet on eBay and have just finished reading it. Looks like my memory might have inadvertently intertwined its plot with that of another book which I read at roughly the same time. Red Planet is a good read and I enjoyed “re-living the experience” especially some details which I had forgotten in the intervening 40+ years. However, the book I am trying to identify definitely made mention of the “rebels” making use of AM radio to communicate without being detected by the “authorities”, who only used FM. I don’t think it is by Heinlein – I contacted a friend who has access to PDF versions of 100 or so of Heinlein’s novels and short stories. Using “AM”, “FM”, “radio”, and various other related terms he did a word search through all of those (computers are absolutely brilliant at doing that sort of thing!) and he did not find anything which even remotely hinted at what I remember. So, I am still searching. Even though I often used to read two or three science fiction novels and short stories a week at that age, I generally just devoured each one and then went on the next one, usually without remembering either the title or the author, although some things did stick in the brain.

    • Found it!!!

      Logic Of Empire by Robert Heinlein. Only thirty-odd pages long, and set on Venus not Mars, with the two main characters being men. The boat was a “crock” (amphibian vehicle with caterpillar treads – as used on an army tank). The reason the search of Heinlein’s stories (including this one) in PDF format were not successful is that “AM” and “FM” were actually referred to with the terms “frequency modulation” and “amplitude modulator”.

  60. I am trying to find a book I read in the mid 70’s, I think by one of the sci-fi biggies of the time, about a group of colonists who are selected to go to a new planet where it is discovered (I think afterward) there are supposedly some “primitive” lion like people. But, one of the colonists is a VERY active little boy who proceeds to interact with these natives, including tying a piece of rope to his pants for a tale to look like them and learning their growling language. On earth he keeps getting his family in trouble with his boisterous and loud self, in this overcrowded futuristic society, but on the new planet he is stronger, faster, and less fearful than all the other kids. He ends up being a hero, as it is discovered the “natives” are not less developed than humans but actually more developed and the boy plays a key roll in the success of the interaction between the humans and the lion people. Sound familiar to anyone? I hope so!  

  61. Ben Rennie // October 31, 2010 at 4:08 pm //

    I’m trying to find the name of a story I heard about on the radio a few years ago. 

    A group of aliens have come to earth and live outside of human society on a sort of reservation. A man who is disillusioned by human society sees their simple society and wants to join them. To be able to fit in, he has to have radical surgery to make himself look like them. This leaves him with a scar on his neck. He goes to live with the aliens, but when he is there he sees that the aliens all have the same scar. They are all humans who wanted to escape from society.

    The idea still sends shivers down my spine, and I’d love to read it. Any ideas???

  62. Hi My name is Mani and I am looking for a series of books published in the 50’s or 60’s . J can’t remember the author or title of the book , but here goes a short summary . At first when trying to find the books I thought he was a time traveler working for a government agency but when that failed I thought maybe he was an interdimensional traveler or ulternate universe traveler, but anyways This man would be sent on missions that wound up taking him to different timelines in those other universes. For some reason he was never able to arrive with clothes on, something to do with traveling thru those dimensions that would not allow inanimate objects to pass thru, anyways he at times would wind up in times like greek settings, other times in times with castles and barbarians and would always help overthrow wicked rulers and set things right where ever he went and of course always got the women who always fell for him. This series may have been written in the 50’s and then published in the 60’s but I am not sure. It was sold along side stories like Captain future and the future men. Hope someone can help with this info. Would appreciate it PS. this agent also had a girl friend in his own timeline that he would always leave behind and she never got wind of why he would disappear for long periods of time and when he did return, he was always healing from wounds he would incur on his missions.

  63. My brother and I have been trying to remember the name and author of a Sci-Fi book that we both read back in the ’70’s.  All we can agree on is that there was a guy who came to earth in a space craft that sits on top of a building disguised as an air conditioning unit or some such, and his communication devise was for some comical reason put in his belly button. Not that this was a great novel or anything…but we both remember reading this book but can not remember much else and it is driving us nuts. If anyone out there can verify that such a story exists and that we are not nuts sharing a joint delusion it would be so much appreciated.  

  64. Trying to remember the name/author of a sci fi short story.  it was only maybe 10 pages long, if that.

    Some people find an incredibly dense mineral/element, load it onto their ship, and head for Earth.  As they accelerate toward earth, the mineral gets more and more massive and somehow causes the ship to accelerate out of control.  They can’t get rid of the mineral.  As the ship is approaching relativistic speed, they fear they will crash into earth and destroy the planet.  But as they pass the speed of light, which they thought was impossible, they find that they are going back in time.  Just before they get to earth, they realize that they are not going to destroy the earth – they are going to create it.  By the time they get to our solar system, it is not there, just a big star, which the ship plows into, creating the solar system.  The last sentence was something like “If God were watching, he might have counted Nine”.  I’m sure that’s not the sentence, but it was something like that.


  65. Thanks, guys.  I’ve been looking for this story for just about forever. 

    Great site.



    VERN!  I FOUND IT.  A E van Vogt, Resurrection (AKA Monster I think) 1948. 
    Appears in some of his anthologies.    It took a LONG time to find it, haha. 
    The aliens were Captian Gorsid and Enash.  WE were the monsters, lol. 

    I’ve been looking for this story for at least fifteen years! I didn’t see an answer, but would really appreciate one. Kind of neat that someone else was impressed with it, too. I’ve been regretting for a long time not looking at the author’s name. Help!

    “Hi.  Great site.   I am trying to remember a short scifistory from decades ago.

    Aliens came to Earth when humanity was extinct.  They had the power to resurrect people,
    so they went to a musem of some kind and resurrected an Egyptian and a 20th century drunk to get
    info. and then killed them.  The next guy was too smart for them so they killed him (with a nuke?)
    but the final guy was able to use mind powers to get to their spaceship and sabotage their
    engineering.  I don’t remember much else, but that plot stayed with me.  I think the aliens were
    lizard like (but many are, so probably doesn’t help> LOL)

  66. Okay this one is giving me a real headache. I have read it when I was like in the 10th grade and am now 22, and have been searching the book for over 3 years. The plot is as follows: 

    There is a brain contained in a bath tub somewhere( might be at Nasa) and the brain can be automatically connected to any “body” and take over the body. The government uses this technology to spy on people and governments. The brain connects with different bodies through out the story, by waves coming from the tub where the brain is contained at. Even at one point the brain is connected with a monkey’s body and thrown in to the zoo with the rest of the monkeys, but the brain is totally human and used to belong to a real human being. Can anyone please please please help me find this book. Thank you in advance. 

  67. I am trying to recall the name of a series of sci-fi novels that I believe were from about 1983 – 1985. Couldn’t tell you the title or the author but what I do recall is that the novels focused on a race of cat/leopoard/lion people that had an environmental theme to it. It was not Dr. Who or Star Trek for sure.

    Any ideas would be appreciated as I have scoured the internet with no luck.


  68. Robert Grinage // April 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm //

    I read a Sci Fi story in the 70’s about humans who are the size of insects and how they had to deal with them to survive. At the end of the story, you find out they are on earth and were created by a scientist just before the world is destroyed. The insects survived and the humans had insect like qualities .

  69. Robert Grinage // April 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm //

    I would like to know the title of a 70’s story of humans the size of insects and how they had to deal whit them to survive. At the end of the story, you find out they are on earth and were created by scientist just before the world is destroyed. the insects survive and the humans had insect like qulities. I hope you can help me out. Thanks Robert

  70. Green Xenon // July 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm //


    I have a hypothetical sci-fi question. Let’s say that my entire central nervous system is somehow made physically-invincible and immortal. What signs and symptoms will occur if — by magic — all my cardiac muscles enter a state of sudden, complete, and permanent relaxation and totally ignore any commands from my body’s regulatory systems [including its own pacemaker] to un-relax?

    Here are some of the symptoms/signs I think I’d experience/display during the process of non-CNS tissues of my body dying:

    1. Cold and pale skin — due to peripheral vasoconstriction caused by the CNS’s attempt to draw blood circulation to the inner body and vital organs.

    2. Dizziness, vertigo, deafness, tinnitus and loss of the sense of balance — due to damage to the inner ears and peripheral acoustic nerves.

    3. Disruption of voluntary movements — due to damage of peripheral motor nerves.

    4. Numbness preceded by paresthesias — due to damage of peripheral sensory nerves.

    5. The release of pain-relieving endorphins — due to serious metabolic insult to most of the body. Extreme injuries tends to be painless due to this mechanism.

    6. Hallucinations, psychedelic states, dissociation, delirium, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and other mental disturbances — due to the chemicals released as a result of the metabolic starvation.

    Am I on the right track? Please correct me if I’m wrong.



  71. I think this was a network show.About a young man,who was the next
    evolution of man.He was a genius,and was on the run from the government.I think he made static-electricity,with is fingers?

  72. The aliens were able to remove their eye (they either had one eye in the center of their forehead or thee eyes) and hold it up overhead with their long arms in order to see high above the hilly martian landscape.  If I remember correctly they used telepathy to communicate.  That’s it!  I read this book 25-30 years ago and would love to find the title.  Help! 

  73. Trying to find a short story about people in the future, so drugged out on syntetic foods that they have lost the blink reflex. I THOUGHT it was called Benny and Joon, but not the movie. They live little pointless lives, while the Government takes care of everything, and Benny (Benni?) meets Joon (June?) and after much giggling, they get married. They eat “Food Ah, what are yum!yum!” (it was really “Food-A” a synthetic mix for the average worker class member) and some sort of drug laden punch, to keep them happy. I cannot find it with a search and I’ve tried every engine there is. Thanks if someone can recall who wrote this short story and the name of it. Ric


  74. Techchik,

    That is “The Number of the Beast” by Heinlen.


  75. Need help desperately!

    Late 70’s early 80’s read a book about 2 groups of kids, one high school and one college that go to another planet for a field trip through a gate and something happens to the gate and they are straded, I believe for years.  The one college guy takes over a group leader, the leader of the high school kids later becomes leader when the other guy dies, his girlfried takes notes at the meetings when they are getting things first straight after figuring out they have been left on the planet.  I do not recall the auther or title.  PLEASE HELP!

  76. I have been trying place a sci-fi film I saw in the early-mid-1970s on UK TV in which there was a scene with a man sitting at a desk by an open window. Something that looks like an umbrella or a lampshade or plant flies in through the window and clamps down on the man’s head. Do you have any idea what film it was? It’s quite a haunting image.

  77. There was a book I read awhile ago that was about a plane crash and some symbiotic beings that were engineered by some government lab got released. They were called luvs that were made to help control mood and behavior. They were bioluminicent that connected through the forehead into the brain causing a organic networking effect. anyway the book goes on to a colony of kids getting a bunch of them and a scientist who has some that fight the government who wants to detach and destroy them and the colony wages a civil battle with them to be allowed to keep them. Can you please help me with the author or title of this book.. Thank you in advance

  78. I am trying to find the title of a book I read in the early- to mid-1960’s. I’m reasonably sure it was set in England. The plot was based around a couple who took some sort of drug to slow their metabolism to such an extent that they were virtually in a form of suspended animation. They had a “hideout” in a big rocky outcrop in their backyard where, having previously carried out a successful short-term test in which one of the couple unexplainedly went “missing” for a few days or weeks, they self-administered the drug and remained undiscovered there, “waking” some centuries in the future.

    Details I recall:

    They were able to perceive events happening around them, albeit in an extreme form of “inverse slow motion”, including some movement of their rocky hideout caused by a nuclear war.

    They had made themselves rough clothing made out of horses hair (or similar) for durability.

    When they “awoke” in the world of the future they found that long-distance transportation used balloons or kites, propelled by the prevailing wind, to pull around “boats” in canals (so they had to wait until the wind was blowing in the right direction).

    They also found that books were written with every second line being read from right to left.

    Internet searches have turned up nothing so far. Finding appropriate search terms has been a challenge as it is not really time travel in the normal sense and it is not really suspended animation either.

    • I believe I have identified the book – Into The Tenth Millennium, by Paul Capon.

      A synopsis of the book, taken from an online bookseller (who currently does not have a copy available), is: “When David and Jennifer, recently married, set out on a walking tour in Cornwall, they had no idea that they would end up traveling in time instead of space. But they stumbled on the mansion of a millionaire scientist, who issued them with a staggering invitation. He had perfected a technique of slowing down the physiological function of any animal organism to an almost infinite degree. Would David and Jennifer care to join him on a trip into the tenth millennium — a journey of eight thousand years which would only take them forty days of bodily living to accomplish? They accept — with fascinating consequences”.

      All I have to do now is find a copy for sale at a reasonable price!

      • Another comment/review found on the internet:

        “A young couple caught in a storm meet a scientist who offers them an incredible chance: to time-travel to the tenth millennium. This they achieve by slowing their metabolisms almost to nothing, so the “time-travel” is a bit reminiscent of Heinlein’s “cold sleep”. Slowly it dawns on the couple that this is a one-way trip…”

  79. Hello,
    Can you help me find the title and author of a science fiction novel I read a while back. This is what I remember: a spaceship lands in a planet with a race of perfect beings. In the crew, there’s a mad nuclear physicist who is eager to test his theory of creating new orbit (?) by splitting the planet in two. He persuades the leader of the race to carry out his project with the argument that, though they are happy in every way, they haven’t reach their full potential unless they have experienced a wide range of emotions, including negative emotions. The leader agreed, the planet is exploded in two halves and the race of perfect being feel all sorts of violent emotional reactions. They feel betrayed and pretty soon decide that they want to kill the mad scientists. Many thanks

  80. Help! My memory recalls the book starts off with an intelligent young man from a primitive society trekking through over-sized dangerous jungle vegetation, climbs a mountain, finds a starship and then the story properly begins… Thank you!

  81. Another book I’ve spent years trying to track down again – a young man comes upon an enclosed city where the inhabitants spend their lives asleep in cubicles dreaming of happiness. The adventurer finds his way in, tries out one of the rooms, is instantly transported to an addictive dream life – might be a girlfriend and a white sand beach in there – and with great difficulty breaks out of the dream… Then I think he finds a spaceship and takes off. Any help with this would be very much appreciated! I thought it was ‘The City and the Stars”, but it’s not.

  82. Trying to remember:
    It was written by a Russian-American woman.
    I read it in 1982.
    It was written at earliest in 1977 (In the afterward, she bashes Ralph Bashki’s film “Wizards”, which came out in that year).
    The theme of the novel was honor. The action starts out when the main character, a warrior, is forced to duel his ancient mentor to the death. To save his honor, the warrior chooses the weapon for the duel: the debate. He is certain that the old man will defeat him, but he wins.
    The cover was awful, featuring a glove or gauntlet with a star on it. The MC loses or throws away the glove in the story, a symbol of his membership in the warrior guild or something.

  83. I am looking for the name of a science fi movie I saw as a kid. I remember it was about a suit of armor from space. It lands on earth and a guy finds it. At some point the guy who finds it is beaten and blown apart and only a small piece of the suit survives. The villians of the movie keep that part which eventually regenerates and the good guy wins. I don’t remember a lot but if I can get some help id he forever grateful

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