Duel on Syrtis

Cover image for


Published: 1951
Language: English
Wordcount: 7,673 / 29 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 77.3
LoC Category: PS
Audiobook: librivox.org
Downloads: 3,178
Added to site: 2010.05.20
mnybks.net#: 27800
Origin: gutenberg.org

Bold and ruthless, he was famed throughout the System as a big-game hunter. From the firedrakes of Mercury to the ice-crawlers of Pluto, he'd slain them all. But his trophy-room lacked one item; and now Riordan swore he'd bag the forbidden game that roamed the red deserts ... a Martian!

Show Excerpt

n floor, five hundred feet of iron-streaked rock tumbling into windy depths. Beyond, the lowering sun glared in his eyes. He paused only an instant, etched black against the sky, a perfect shot if the human should come into view, and then he sprang over the edge.

He had hoped the rockhound would go shooting past, but the animal braked itself barely in time. Kreega went down the cliff face, clawing into every tiny crevice, shuddering as the age-worn rock crumbled under his fingers. The hawk swept close, hacking at him and screaming for its master. He couldn't fight it, not with every finger and toe needed to hang against shattering death, but--

He slid along the face of the precipice into a gray-green clump of vines, and his nerves thrilled forth the appeal of the ancient symbiosis. The hawk swooped again and he lay unmoving, rigid as if dead, until it cried in shrill triumph and settled on his shoulder to pluck out his eyes.

Then the vines stirred. They weren't strong, but their thorns sa


Average Rating of 4 from 4 reviews: ****
JoJo Biggins

A story worth your time. If only it had been longer.

The end is a little predictable, but different enough not to be terribly disappointing.

Henry L. Ratliff

(1951) Sci-fi (Ugly Earthling) / Adventure

From \'Planet Stories\' March 1951.

R: ***

Plot bullets

  • A rich game hunter wants a final kill.

  • He wants a Martian.

  • It is illegal, even though they are treated as second class..

  • The hunter sets out.

  • He may have chosen the wrong Martian, to hunt.

Sardo Weems

The rich Earthman is hunting the aboriginal Martian to bring back his skin for stuffing. The human has technology; the Owlie is in symbiotic contact with every plant and animal in the desert.

Tightly plotted, tense, with both the hunter and the prey well-drawn characters. Good descriptions of the desert and skies. A perfect little story.


A well-written story, with some surprises. Has all the essential aspects of drama in a 50s SF world... don't know how to rate 50's SF... I personally like it. average or better.

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