Star Trek Turns Out To Be A Bad "First Contact" Guide

A couple of Scottish boys find an actual crashed alien spaceship — and they assume that science fiction is a totally accurate guide to extraterrestrial encounters. That's just the set-up in Alan Campbell's hilarious and sick story "The Gadgey," which went up last week at venerable science fiction webzine Strange Horizons. Campbell's story gets more and more demented as it goes along — and the part where the boys and their friend get the alien stoned isn't even the weirdest bit. There are so many more reasons why "The Gadgey" is our recommended lunchtime reading for today.


I love the boys' literal interpretation of science fiction as a guide to alien species. They spend a lot of time trying to figure out if the alien is a Predator or something out of Star Trek. One of the kids, Gordie, has Sky, the British satellite TV system, and lords it over the other kid because he's seen more episodes of The Next Generation. At one point, they actually watch a whole season of TNG hoping to spot the "Gadgey," the alien they've met.

Alien in tow, they straggle up the ranks of their small, closed-off world, finally invoking the help of Jim, the laid-off council worker who has a legendary power tool, the "Hing," which is supposed to be as big as a house and all-powerful. They try to use the Hing to unlock the secrets of the alien's spaceship, but what happens next is shocking and disturbing. I won't spoil the rest of the story — including the whole drugs-for-disruptor trade — but it's well worth spending your lunchbreak checking it out. (And to our East Coast readers, sorry this is so late. Next time, "lunchtime reading" will be closer to your actual lunchtime, I promise.)

Detail from cover of Campbell's Iron Angel. [Strange Horizons]