Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Loophole" (short story): Government bureaucracy doing what it does best - push the papers!

This engrossing piece of satire is written in a somewhat unconventional style - as a series of memos between government officials & departments.

Story summary (spoiler).
Martians have had a technology civilization for a while, while humans are still at a rather primitive stage. With advent of radio on earth, Martian government have been monitoring the development of earthlings.

That is when they detect the three US nuclear explosions - an initial test, & the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki. A little later, they detect rockets being tested by earthlings.

They decide to act. Several Martian spaceships reach earth, & issue a warning: stick to earth, or face the consequences. No rockets & space exploration allowed for such violent beings.

We are told of above proceedings in the form of memos moving around in Martian bureaucracy - usually with very comic contents.

In the final act, we see the Martian civilization decimated. It seems, the earthlings invented Star Trek style material transporters when rockets were barred! And used that for attack Martians.

End is again a bit of humor, as the victorious earth soldiers on Mars are not too keen on traveling at speed of light via the beam, but would rather prefer rocket travel, & want earth to develop it for their transport!

See also.

  1. "Travel by Wire!" (1937) (A): This story about a Star Trek type device to beam people & things around has an ending that shares sentiments of returning soldiers in Loophole. One of the inventors of beaming machines who is also behind the big electronic transportation empire prefers traveling the old fashioned way!
Fact sheet.
Loophole, short story, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
First published: 1946
Genre: Humor
Rating: A

The story appears in the following collections.
  1. "Expedition to Earth"
  2. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"

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