Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Arthur C. Clarke's "Publicity Campaign": Scared humans turn benevolent aliens to malevolent ones!

This short 2-part piece of humor has very good second part.

Story summary.

A new Hollywood movie, "Monsters from Space" is about to be released. It features malevolent aliens from Sirius. Lot of money is pumped into its publicity. Also, a shady scientist is brought to make a statement that if there ever is First Contact, it will likely be with malevolent aliens.

That is when the aliens arrive - from Rigel system. They are from Third Galactic Empire, & include Prince Zervashni & his "chief adviser, Sigisnin II, Professor of Astropolitics" - among others.

With the mothership hanging in earth's skies, a diplomatic team arrives at New York facilities of UN. Public fed on yet to be released Monsters publicity is scared. A mob kills the alien visitors!

Prince Zervashni tries making contact a second time, but this the diplomats came armed & "on the other side of the planet". News & rumors of New York had reached there, & alien met the same fate with the local mob - though locals did suffer casualties.

Prince Zervashni was still wondering of a way of making peaceful contact when "rocket bombs started climbing up towards his fleet"! That is when he acted. Humans were gone in 20 minutes, & painlessly.


This story makes several references to movies & other stories. I haven't seen or read either of these references.
  1. In the text of the story: Hollywood movie, "The Thing from Another World" (1951), directed by Howard Hawks.

    Another Hollywood movie "The Thing" (1982), directed by John Carpenter, was a remake. This is said to be the better known of the two, but I am no Hollywood expert!

    Both movies are adaptations of the plot of the novella "Who Goes There?" by John W Campbell, Jr (written under pseudonym "Don A Stuart") (Astounding, August 1938).
  2. In the text of the story: H G Wells' "War of the Worlds".
  3. When introducing this story in "Collected Stories": Another Hollywood movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951), directed by Robert Wise.
  4. When introducing this story in "Collected Stories": Another Hollywood movie, "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), directed by Steven Spielberg.
  5. When introducing this story in "Collected Stories": Darth Vader, a fictional character in the Star Wars universe is mentioned.

Fact sheet.

"Publicity Campaign", short story, review
First published: London Evening News, 1953.
Rating: Time well spent A

This story is included in the following collections.

  1. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"