What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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SOLVED: Adult Fiction > SOLVED. Three SciFi Short Stories / people as pets of aliens; ants take over world; presidential selection seeks volunteer. [s]

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message 1: by M— (last edited May 06, 2013 07:44AM) (new)

M— | 379 comments (All found!)

I've a bit of a hodgepodge for this grouping of sought-stories, but all three of them are science fiction short stories so maybe that will help.

People as Pets of Aliens
FOUND : "I Saw the Light" by Terry Bisson.

I remember a story where people discovered some sort of settlement on the moon, and this settlement put them in contact with an alien race. When the individual humans were in contact with the aliens, they were in raptures and never want to leave contact. The aliens were sad and disappointed with this and left the moon straight away. The humans were despondent. Eventually, the humans uncovered information indicating humanity had been started by these aliens, that humanity had been something like the beloved pets of the aliens (something like dogs were to humans). The aliens had left Earth to allow humanity space to grow and develop, but when the humans got to the moon and found the aliens again, the humans still wanted to be pets and not equals. So the aliens left the moon to travel even farther away.

This might have been a story in one of the Year's Best SciFi anthologies?

Ants Take Over World
FOUND : "Let the Ants Try" by Frederick Pohl

Humanity had just barely survived a nuclear war and is in shreds. One scientist had been working on developing a time machine before the war and completed it just as the war nearly destroyed the world. Instead of using the machine to divert the beginning of the war, which he decided was useless because even if he prevented that war another one would develop, he decided to provide humanity with an inhuman opponent. He worked with an other scientist in order to give ants lungs – which was as explained in the story the only reason why ants were small, if they had lungs they could have evolved more – and when the scientists were successful they went back in time to seed the Earth with some colonies of ants. When they came back forward in time, they found all of humanity gone and a thriving civilization of sentient ants in place. In horror, they realized that rather than giving humanity a foe that humanity could unite and fight against, they created a foe that out-evolved and defeated humanity. They jump back in the time machine to undo what they did, but by that time the ants had also developed time travel and the ants weren't about to let that happen.

I think this was an old, old story. (That is, 30s, 40s, 50s?)

Presidential Selection Seeks Volunteer
FOUND : "The Troublemaker" by Christopher Anvil

There was a space ship that picked up a new crew member at port, and he was a very bad mix with the rest of the crew. Within a few days, the ship's moral became shot and threats were developing to general life and livelihood. The captain of the ship was much respected among the crew, and as a man they were surprised with the amount of leniency he was giving the new crew member. But the captain had a plan.

He directed the crew to dock at port at a planet none of them had every visited before and arranged for the crew to take a holiday. The crew members hosted with the native (human) inhabitants of the planet, and the rest did everyone good. Right before the holiday was scheduled to end, the natives got very excited because a presidential selection had just been announced. The crew was confused and all, "…don't you mean election?" but, no, it's a selection. The president was stated as being tired and wishing to retire, but he couldn't step down until somebody volunteered to take his place. The interest of the new crew member was piqued at this, and he started asking questions about the limits of presidential authority and what the perks would be, and he ending up volunteering. He was the only person who did.

The captain and the rest of the crew got back on ship, leaving the new president behind, and the crew wasted no time asking the captain to explain. It turned out the planet had a specific approach to public office and had worked out a way to motivate public officials. Immediately after selection, the new office holder would be injected with nanobits that kept him in contact with the areas he was responsible for. If, for example, a tidal wave took out a costal city while the president was asleep, the president's left foot or hand or ear or whatever body-part was in tune to this area would feel agonizing pain and wake him up, and the only way to decrease the pain would be to actively work on aiding the city. The new president was clever and sneaky but also lazy. The first two traits would make him an excellent president, and the nanobits made the third trait a non-issue. At the end of the story, it was also plainly implied that the captain was a retired president of the planet.

I might have read this story along with another, in space-themed anthology, about a warp in space that sometimes bent time, and a girl who loved a sailor who died at space but because of the warp got to spend one extra day with him but couldn't tell him that his ship would soon crash. But I'm afraid that thought is vague.

Any help for these would be extremely appreciated!

(Also crossposted here.)


message 2: by M— (last edited Jun 21, 2010 06:03AM) (new)

M— | 379 comments I found one! The Ants Take Over World story is "Let the Ants Try" by Frederick Pohl (1947). It's been reprinted several times, but I just now re-read it in the anthology Mutants.


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1396 comments One down, two to go?


message 4: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments Yeeesss!


message 5: by M— (last edited Jun 22, 2010 03:16AM) (new)

M— | 379 comments Found another one! The Presidential Selection Seeks Volunteer story is "The Troublemaker" by Christopher Anvil (1960).

My sticking point seemed to have been the selection was for a ruler termed 'king' and not 'president'.

Google Books provides an excerpt:

A faint grin crossed the captain's face, and he nodded. "Squires, knights, baronets, barons, viscounts, earls, marquises, dukes, princes, and king—everyone having any authority in the region—suddenly wakes up with a pain in the part of his anatomy that corresponds to the source of the trouble. The king, for instance, is likely to come to at 3:00 a.m. with a peculiar grinding pain in the upper part of the calf of his left leg, whereupon he will jump out of bed shouting, 'Quick! I think another typhoon just hit Bijitoa! Get the disaster crews ready!"

I suspect I might have first read this in the Asimov anthology Science Fiction A to Z, but it's been more recently collected in Interstellar Patrol II.

ETA: I found the complete story online here.


message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1396 comments Thanks, M—, Hope you (or another member) finds the 3rd/last one.


message 7: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39591 comments Mod
I'm wondering if the pet story is something by Bertram Chandler.


message 8: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments One of Chandler's most famous stories is "The Cage" about a group of aliens who capture some humans and do not realize the humans are sentient until they observe the humans making a pet of a rat, with the moral being that only thinking creatures put other creatures in cages.

My Googling skills haven't yet turned up any more likely Chandler stories....


message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 1396 comments Hmm. Our member Danielle noticed that the book in this thread http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...
might be the same as this book. So, if one is found, maybe both will be found.


message 10: by Andy (last edited May 05, 2013 07:35AM) (new)

Andy Love | 2098 comments M— wrote: "(Found two; one more to go!)

I've a bit of a hodgepodge for this grouping of sought-stories, but all three of them are science fiction short stories so maybe that will help.

People as Pets of Ali..."


The people as pets story is "I Saw the Light" by Terry Bisson. It's in "The Years Best SF: 8"


"I might have read this story along with another, in space-themed anthology, about a warp in space that sometimes bent time, and a girl who loved a sailor who died at space but because of the warp got to spend one extra day with him but couldn't tell him that his ship would soon crash. But I'm afraid that thought is vague."

And this story is "At Dorado" by Geoffrey Landis - also in "Years Best SF 8" - see this thread http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...


message 11: by M— (last edited May 06, 2013 07:44AM) (new)

M— | 379 comments Thank you, Andy! You were the title discoverer in my search of "At Dorado" too. I must obtain my own copy of Year's Best SF 8!


message 12: by Andy (last edited May 06, 2013 08:31AM) (new)

Andy Love | 2098 comments I linked to the previous thread without noticing that you were the questioner in both. Oops...


message 13: by M— (new)

M— | 379 comments I rather applaud your memory skills at linking the two posts. Well done!


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