Arthur C. Clarke's "Reunion": Racist & illogical ending to an otherwise readable first contact story
One fine day, earthmen receive a message from space. A ship is approaching at nearly the speed of light, & will be on earth in "a few hours". Story is really this message.
It says earth was originally colonized by Men 10 million years ago, "in the reign of the great reptiles". For a while, there was contact with parent worlds.
Then, about 2 million years ago, an ice age began. Colonizers here began to change - "a natural adaptation to the end of the long summer". But many colonizers thought they had been afflicted with a "strange & repulsive disease". Infighting began; many colonizers went back home; ones that remained fell to savagery; contact with home worlds was lost.
Some years ago, our cousins in space detected radio messages from earth, & found we had rediscovered civilization from savagery. So they are coming for reunion.
They also reveal the nature of disease that afflicted the locals 2 million years ago - the tail piece I didn't like.
Reunion, short story, review
First published: Infinity #2, 1971
This story is included in the following collections.