Short story, sf, aliens ignore unwritten rules, deliberately lose game with great consequences

mrnall

New Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2022
Messages
3
Don't remember the stakes, but they were very high. Humans cannot defeat these superior aliens. Humans will lose terrible stakes. But aliens deliberately lose the game, saying that there is no rule which says one must try to win. the rule is an unwritten rule, and aliens do not accept unwritten rules.
 

PaulMmn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2010
Messages
462
I don't know about a 'rule,' or if it was considered a 'game,' but in the TV series Babylon 5, a war between the Minbari and Humans was going -very- badly (for Humans), when all of a sudden the Minbari withdraw from the battle. During the course of the series there were lots of theories about why the Minbari dropped the battle, but it was only later in the series we found out why.
 

mrnall

New Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2022
Messages
3
Thanks! But this was definitely a short story in a short story collection. I... my memory is terrible, but maybe it was one of those collections that Asimov edited, "Golden Age" or whatever. But maybe it wasn't :)
 

Hugh

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
1,985
It probably isn't this one, but, allowing for some misremembering over the years, it just might be.....

Clifford D. Simak "Honorable Opponent" (1956)
A general and captain are waiting for the alien "Fivers" to arrive for a prisoner exchange. They have managed to capture one 'Fiver' and damage or perhaps destroy eleven 'Fiver' ships, while whole squadrons of the Earth fleet have been destroyed and others halved in strength. They are also totally flummoxed by the thinking processes of their captive. The Fivers arrive late and when they do, they show the General how Earth could have fought better and return all the Earth ships which it turns out have not been destroyed but just 'taken'. The aliens will give Earth some of these 'takers' so they can fight again on equal terms and no one will get hurt.

Covers of the anthologies can be found here, courtesy of @Ralf 58 :
 
Last edited:

mrnall

New Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2022
Messages
3
It probably isn't this one, but, allowing for some misremembering over the years, it just might be.....

Clifford D. Simak "Honorable Opponent" (1956)
A general and captain are waiting for the alien "Fivers" to arrive for a prisoner exchange. They have managed to capture one 'Fiver' and damage or perhaps destroy eleven 'Fiver' ships, while whole squadrons of the Earth fleet have been destroyed and others halved in strength. They are also totally flummoxed by the thinking processes of their captive. The Fivers arrive late and when they do, they show the General how Earth could have fought better and return all the Earth ships which it turns out have not been destroyed but just 'taken'. The aliens with give Earth some of these 'takers' so they can fight again on equal terms and no one will get hurt.

Covers of the anthologies can be found here, courtesy of @Ralf 58 :
That's similar in kind, but not the one, thanks!
This one was an actual game very similar to US football.
I remember the humans were pathetically unable to tackle the aliens, but then the aliens literally intentionally fell down shy of the goal line.
Thanks!
 

PaulMmn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2010
Messages
462
I saw a version of the 'Honorable Opponent' rendered in a comic book when I was younger...
 

williamjm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Messages
975
That's similar in kind, but not the one, thanks!
This one was an actual game very similar to US football.
I remember the humans were pathetically unable to tackle the aliens, but then the aliens literally intentionally fell down shy of the goal line.
Thanks!
This sounds a bit like George R.R. Martin's Run to Starlight in which an alien team joins an American Football league and are pretty much unstoppable due to their physical advantages but contrive to lose the final match for political reasons.
 

Top