Loophole (short story)

Loophole (short story)

"Loophole" is a science fiction short story written by Arthur C. Clarke and first published in 1946 in the magazine "Astounding Science-Fiction". It was subsequently published as part of a short story collection in "Expedition to Earth" in 1953. This story details the concern of the advanced Martian civilization with humanity's research in to rocketry and atomic power. The title of this story refers to resolution of this tension between humanity and the Martians.


The story begins in the form of correspondence between the President of Mars to the Secretary of the Martian Council of Scientists, regarding the discovery of atomic power (in the form of atomic bombs) by humans. They are concerned that once humanity's current war is over (they have been monitoring Earth's broadcasts), humans will use atomic power and rockets to breach interplanetary space and pose a threat to Mars. A remote monitoring station is set up by Mars on the Moon to monitor Earth's progress. Finally they send a fleet of 19 battleships along with a warning to Earth that one city will be destroyed every time a rocket leaves Earth's atmosphere. Earth agrees to stop experienting with rockets when they realize their broadcasts are being intercepted. Ten years pass without any further rocket experimentation, while the Martians contemplate the extermination of the human race as they continue to pose a threat to Martian civilization. The next letter is not from any Martian, but from a human named Lieutenant Commander Henry Forbes. The previous letters were recovered from the ruins of the capital Martian city. It seems that rather than experimenting with rockets, humans had perfected matter transmission and beamed their bombs directly over the Martian cities. Forbes is hopeful that rocket experiments will resume soon, as he finds being "beamed" across space to be uncomfortable.

ee also

*Quibble (plot device)
*"The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951 film)"

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