“Stars, Here I Come!” (short story) by Jean-Pierre Andrevon
English Publication History: Travelling Towards Epsilon (New English Library, 1977)
Original: French (A moi les étoiles!), 1971
Translated by Maxim Jakubowski, 1976
Synopsis: The Aliens came to Earth and nothing much actually changed. Life was normal for Joseph Kapek until he was accepted as a candidate for the Aliens’ Stellar Fellowship as an interstellar transport pilot. Not very well qualified in anything at all, the news was very much surprising to Joseph, who is ushered in to the Base, shown the walled-off wonders of the Base, told of the untapped powers of the human mind, and led to his final conditioning. His senses are awakened and he doesn’t like what he sees.
Pre-analysis: I don’t think flattery is a form a hatred, like the Bible says (Proverb 26:28); rather, I think flattery is a form of manipulation. In my work, compliments and flattery are part of the job, but not as much as understanding education and emotional wants and needs. Flattery isn’t just given out at the door; rather, certain people are more prone to it that others. The strong-minded, conscious ones objectively view the term of flattery with detachment, looking at it curiously and suspiciously—as they should; more superficial people chase after flattery like a dog after a laser pointer. These same people are quite entertaining from the observer’s point of view, like a dog and a laser pointer… they also tend to be a bit socially dull and lack a box of wits upstairs where it matters; with them, flattery is an easy tool with which to manipulate them.
Analysis: The Aliens’ Stellar Fellowship seems to be congenial with their human counterparts on Earth, but some of their intentions are veiled. Pointedly, their recruitment for the position of “interstellar transport pilot” is filled with formality, exclusiveness, and flattery. Their government-level relationship seems formal, candid, and healthy as the aliens have been given their own land and facilities. Unfortunately, they aren’t so felicitous towards all of mankind. Through the failing mind of one man, the reader experiences the series of gimmicks that were used to snare the man into becoming the honored position of “interstellar transport pilot”. The title hold high expectation for him, but the aliens, too, have high expectations for him.
Seeing the aliens’ chicanery of enlisting “interstellar transport pilots”, one must look at all other matters between them and the humans. If they could be so manipulative to to prey on a feeble-minded mind to take this position, are they also capable of higher forms of manipulation toward mankind on the social level, on the level of the destiny of the species? From the Human Resources perspective, if you see a company using shady tactics with their customers or employees, the reverse it also probably true. Manipulation is a diseased mindset of an organization, so when something seems too good to be true, take the offering with a grain of salt… or be smart enough to observe the situation objectively.