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Duel on Syrtis by Poul William Anderson

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“Duel on Syrtis” is a 1951 science fiction short story by Poul William Anderson. It is about a renowned hunter who goes to Mars to try and bag a trophy Martian.

This Is Why I Don’t Hunt

When I was younger I used to go deer and elk hunting with my father and older brother. There were several things that I did not like and I didn’t go very many times before I got tired of it. Although I wasn’t as bad off as the characters in this story, I was reminded of why I don’t go hunting anymore. At least I wasn’t on another planet!

Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell

Original Kreega illustration from Planet Stories

Kreega is an old, cantankerous Martian. In fact that is why he is singled out when the famous hunter Riordan comes to Mars to hunt illegally. Riordan, or course, tries to gain the advantage by using a radio-active net, a rockhound and a hawk, but Kreega has a few tricks up his sleeve that the great Riordan knows nothing about! Who will prevail in this age old battle of wits and strategy? Hmm… I know who my money’s on.

My Two Cents…

  • This is the first story I’ve ever read by Poul Anderson and I was greatly impressed! A very cool story with some excellent writing – what could be better?
  • Honestly, it is fun to read stories that come from a time when people still hoped there might actually be aliens on the other planets in our solar system. The creativity that goes into imagining those aliens is amazing!
  • Kreega was a great character! I know the story was written to make me want to root for him, but still – it was totally fun seeing the cool ideas he came up with.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • Page Count: 11
  • Word Count: 6,532
  • Did you know that Poul William Anderson’s daughter is married to another famous SF author? Yep. You can learn who it is at Wikipedia.
  • Special thanks to Free SF Reader for recommending this story.

Where You Can Find Duel on Syrtis:

Craving More Science Fiction Short Stories?

If you liked “Duel on Syrtis” then you may also enjoy Hunting Problem by Robert Sheckley – about an alien scout who must hunt a fearsome adult Mirash in order to salvage his troop’s honor.

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