“Upstarts” is a 1960 science fiction short story by L. J. Stecher. It is about the human ambassador to a universal empire, and the sneaky way he travels around the universe!
I barely remember going through world history class when I was a teenager – I just wasn’t that interested in it. But I do remember being fascinated by the Galactic Empire when I first read Asimov’s excellent Foundation novels. Since that time I have found other empires (real ones this time) to be super fascinating as well. I just did some quick checking on Wikipedia – did you know that at one time the British Empire controlled nearly 1/4 of the Earth’s surface? Wow! Or that the Achaemenid Empire had nearly 50% of Earth’s population? Crazy! Anyway, the size of the empire in this short story is nothing short of amazing either, and I think that is very cool – at least for fans of science fiction!
John Crownwell has come to visit the ruling viceroy of Sector XII of the Universal Holy Empire of Sunda. Most of the aliens on Vega III don’t much care for him or humankind in general, especially since the young, upstart species had the audacity to attain intelligence on their own. Sheesh – those young whippersnappers! It seems that His Effulgence, the Viceroy Tronn Ffallk, wants to make a deal with the humans from Earth – you know, for power and glory and all that. So the mighty viceroy and the lowly human attempt to hammer out an agreement that will be beneficial to both sides. But one of the involved parties doesn’t have any intention of keeping their end of the deal – and that could spell disaster for trillions and trillions of beings!
My Two Cents
- Story: – Even though it wasn’t a terribly unique idea (do those even exist any more?) it was still a fun concept to read about!
- Writing: – I thought it was pretty good – especially for a story written in the 1960s!
- Fun Factor: – I love reading about weird aliens and galactic empires – especially when there is a surprise ending involved!
Where To Find Upstarts
- This short story was first published in the June 1960 edition of Galaxy Magazine.
- You can read “Upstarts” for free online at Project Gutenberg.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you liked “Upstarts” then you might also enjoy “The Game of Rat and Dragon” by Cordwainer Smith – about the telepaths, and their partners, who use mind altering pin-sets to protect spaceships traveling in interstellar space.