Bonus: Mooning humanity

I was baffled by an incorrect narrative I was constructing: The aliens are laser-burning a mutation into the human genome in the first panel [and specifically the Y chromosome]; then battling in an abandoned city with a colonnade; then withdrawing and leaving a different neighborhood intact, because of something they learn in the human/alien dictionary. And for some reason that leads them to misspell their victory message.

…. And then I looked at panel 1 on a different scale.


  1. That PBF apparently has not appeared in a published CIDU post. But CIDU Bill did include it in an untitled draft from 2020/08/07 where it sat below this “Motorcycle of Damocles” picture:

  2. Finally figured (most of) it out. The childish Aliens are using the laser to carve graffiti on the moon’s surface, but they mistakenly did an ‘O’ instead of a ‘U’. OK, slightly funny by itself, but why panel 3? Are they just bad at English slang?

  3. @ Lisah – Exactly: they had to look it up, but were stupid enough to do so only after completing the prank.

    P.S. I remember reading (a long time ago) about a semi-serious plan to use something like carbon dust to turn the moon into a giant advertising billboard, but I don’t remember whether this was just a science fiction story, in a comic book, or something cooked up by the supermarket tabloids. Does anyone else remember seeing something like this? (I’m not talking about the more recent idea of orbital advertising. The moon-based idea was also attached to a soft-drink manufacturer, but it was a different company.)

  4. Kilby,

    It was a Robert Heinlein story, “The Man Who Sold the Moon”. That was just one of the leading character’s money-making schemes.

  5. Yes, “The Man Who Sold the Moon.” I think the proposed ad on the moon was for a thinly disguised “7+” soda pop.

    A couple of sort-of variants:

    In THE FACE by Jack Vance, an egotistical villain sets off controlled explosions on his planet’s moon which carve said moon into a likeness of the villain’s face.

    In “Pi in the Sky” by Fredric Brown, an industralist’s invention bends light rays or somesuch handwavium to make a number of stars appear to be moving into a new formation/constellation — which turns out to be an advertising slogan — which turns out to be misspelled.

  6. @ Mark H – Thanks, that is definitely the correct answer. It’s been at least three (if not four) decades since I read the book.

  7. I also remember that from “The Man Who Sold the Moon”. It was just a hypothetical ad, not a proposal. The entrepreneur putting together the Moon flight was on a fund-raising tour, and when he went to the big soft drink giant he was wearing this rival logo on a round lapel pin or campaign button. He said the visual angle subtended by his button from distance to the guy behind his desk, was just the same as the visual angle of a full Moon from the Earth. That’s surely where I learned the vocabulary of “visual angle subtended by”, as well as the particular size in question: half a degree.

  8. In Arthur C. Clarke’s series of stories set on the moon, there is going to be a demonstration of ejecting a cloud of glitter/glowing dust from a sprayer on the moon’s surface, which will go to a great height without dispersing because of no air resistance. It is set up so that the cloud should be visible to naked eye viewers on earth, so everybody (on that side of the planet) goes out to watch. One of the astronauts took a bribe from a unnamed beverage company to put a template over the sprayer nozzle so that the cloud took the shape of the company logo. The description was something like, “the ‘a’s were a little distorted, but the ‘c’s were very clear”.

    In Asimov’s “Buy Jupiter”, the sol system is on the route for alien passenger liners, and as they go by, telescopes are available for the passengers to check out the photogenic planets. Representatives of an alien company contact earth governments to lease advertising space on Jupiter, and float their ads for the passengers to see.

  9. I also forgot, in an early episode of the animated The Tick series, villain Chairface Chippendale begins to write his name on the moon with a giant laser, but is stopped partway through. In subsequent episodes, the moon is shown with “CHA” burned into it.

    In the second season, the Tick goes to the moon on a mission to erase the letters, manages to get the “C” cleared, but then winds up going off with a Galactus type character. At the end of the episode, “Galactus” agrees to leave the earth alone, but takes a bite from the moon, so for the rest of the series, now the moon showed “HA”, with a bite taken out.

  10. The primary detail that I remember from the story is the bittersweet ending†: his motivation for “selling” the moon was that he wanted to actually go there, but his business deals were so successful that he was never able (or allowed) to make the trip for himself. As I recall it, he finally cuts a secret deal with a pilot (with the understanding that because of his advanced age, he may not survive the trip), and in fact does die after landing there.

    P.S. (†) – That “successful” final (fatal) trip is very similar to the end of the movie “Space Cowboys”.

  11. P.S. @ Divad – Those details (with the “a”s and “c”s) sound even more familiar, but I don’t remember reading much (if any) of Clarke’s stories (I did read almost all of Heinlein’s earlier works; I quit after “Friday”).

  12. Kilby: Harriman’s death on the moon actually appears in the sequel, “Requiem,” not in “The Man Who Sold the Moon” itself.

    Of the post-FRIDAY Heinlein novels, parts of JOB and the first half of THE CAT WHO WALKS THROUGH WALLS are O.K., but certainly not up to his early prime years stuff. Otherwise you didn’t miss much by quitting after FRIDAY.

  13. @ Shrug – I don’t have that paperback collection any more, but I’m sure that both stories were in the same volume. As for the novels, after I finished “Friday”, I did start (but did not necessarily finish) another one of his books, but I don’t remember the title. I think I was getting a little tired of his orgies, but one thing I definitely did not like was the time-travel ret-con of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress“, in order to “rescue” the computer personality of Mycroft “Mike” Holmes. It was worse than any of George Lucas’s retroactive “Star Worse” editing decisions.

  14. “Requiem” was written something like a decade before “The Man Who Sold the Moon.”

    I missed that episode, Kilby. I thought I had read all of his stuff. I wonder which book that was in.

  15. @ Lost – Looking at his bibliography, I figured that there couldn’t be that many candidates, and happened to guess right on my first try: the “rescue” occurs in “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls“, but I’m not sure whether the subsequent discussion about and/or attempt to put “Mike” into a human body was in that novel, or a later one.

  16. @Kilby, I found the Clarke story, it’s “Watch This Space”, one of six short stories in his “Venture to the Moon” series, collected in “The Other Side of the Sky”.

  17. I’m thinking of a “Times Square” type scrolling-letters display on the Rings of Saturn.

  18. The same aliens arranged for a pizza delivery to earth. A gigantic delivery robot, his feet too big to fit on one continent, stands on the planet and realizes he’s been pranked.

  19. Thanks again to Divad, it’s entirely possible that I did read that story, the title (and premise) sound vaguely familiar.

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.