“Rescue Party” is a 1946 science fiction novelette by Arthur C. Clarke. It is about an alien exploration ship sent to rescue the last of humankind before the sun goes supernova.
The End Of The World… Once Again
One trend I’ve noticed among both classic and modern writers of science fiction is the tendency to write about “the end of the world” – so to speak. Here is another classic story by the great Arthur C. Clarke about that very topic – only this one is told from the aliens’ point of view.
Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell
Alveron is captain of the Galactic Survey Ship S9000, which has recently been ordered to save a young civilization from its exploding star. Arriving hours before the sun goes supernova, Alveron sends two teams to rescue people – but the planet seems deserted. One team finds a working (but recently abandoned) communications station, while the other team finds a bit of trouble when they stumble upon a working subway. Now the question is whether Alveron can save his crew before the end of the world – literally!
My Two Cents…
- The various races of aliens which make up the crew of the S9000 are really cool! One of the reasons I love classic science fiction like this is because of the fun and unique life forms.
- The feeling of a recently abandoned planet about to meet its doom worked very well in this story. It created both a sense of urgency to the story, as well as a cool setting.
- Like most of Arthur C. Clarke’s stories, the ending was great!
Interesting Tidbits About This Story:
- Page Count: 17
- Word Count: 10,337
- Did you know that Arthur C. Clarke built his first telescope at age thirteen? Yep. You can read his biography at the arthurcclarke.net web site.
- Guess what? This story placed 9th in the 1971 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll – very cool!
Where You Can Find Rescue Party:
- This story was originally published in the May 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.
- “Rescue Party” is included in the fantastic anthology The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke – a book I highly recommend.
- You can read a very nice online version of this story at the Baen CD web site – where it is part of their awesome free book The World Turned Upside Down.
Craving More Stories?
If you enjoyed “Rescue Party” then you might also like Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge by Mike Resnick – about a group of anthropological aliens who are studying the long and brutal empire of mankind.