Overconfidence – Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo by: Alastair Forbes


Tix’Alut wasn’t feeling confident. Perhaps it was the re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, or perhaps it was the rough landing into the sea that shook him so much. Most likely, it was the scanty reconnaissance that Captain Aup’Trunile permitted him. Their ship’s radar had poor resolution, displaying only large details like continents and islands. He conducted his survey using optics from orbit like any other advance scout would.

“There it is,” said Captain Aup’Trunile, looking through the periscope. While operating in the sea, their ship used optics for targeting. The new sonar systems were still experimental. The twelve parts of his mandibles clicked loudly in anticipation. “That’s the enemy battleship.”

Tix’Alut peered through the alternate optics to see what the Captain saw. The sailing ship was big, and clearly advanced. It was larger than their own sea-borne warships, with many more canvas sails. He still had a bad feeling. “Perhaps we should survey other ships and other harbors before acting?”

“Whatever for? This is the biggest ship we found.”

“Well. When I watched this harbor from orbit I saw many wind-powered sailing vessels, but the level of industry on this planet Earth is astounding. Perhaps they have other types of ships. Maybe others are hidden in other harbors.”

Aup’Trunile raised his chitinous wing covers in annoyance. “Nonsense! Look, we saw no rockets or starships in orbit in space, right?”


“And we know all intelligent species develop technology at the same pace. It starts with ocean-going wind-powered ships, then steam ships, then radio and radar, then nuclear-powered rockets, and finally interstellar warp drive. It’s been the same on all 12 planets we invaded.”

“Okay, but…”

“We saw no nuclear rockets or spaceships. Their satellites are solar-powered. That means they haven’t figured out nuclear power yet. Ergo, they’re still at wind-powered ships technology. Thus, THAT is their battleship. An easy target for us.”

“Yes that makes sense,” fidgeted Tix’Alut. “But…”

“Tix! You really should learn to use logic. It’s your friend.”

Tix’Alut peered through the periscope with trepidation. “I just wonder if a species would ever develop nuclear-powered sailing ships before spaceflight.”

“Ridiculous!” groaned Aup’Trunile. “Nuclear power is ALWAYS developed to drive spaceships. Not the other way around. Besides nuclear plants are too big to fit on sailing ships.” He smacked Tix’Alut’s carapace in a comradely way. “Relax! Now start up the steam-powered torpedoes, something the Humans surely never imagined. Let’s begin a victorious campaign of conquest!”
Author’s Notes:
It’s quite normal and common to believe that if an alien race developed faster-than-light space travel, then other technologies in weapons, computing, and biology would be equally advanced beyond us, but that isn’t necessarily so. The different minds of aliens might develop different technology at different rates compared to us. There’s a famous short story by Harry Turledove that illustrates this in another way. Here’s the Wiki page about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_Not_Taken_%28short_story%29

Each week, photographer Alastair Forbes offers an original photo as a writing prompt for flash fiction. His photo is at this the top of this post. This story was inspired by it. Look here for more stories based upon the photo. http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/sunday-photo-fiction-january-11th-2015/

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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13 Responses to Overconfidence – Sunday Photo Fiction

  1. Al says:

    I love it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the ending! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank god they’re stupid. Earth is saved once again. Steam driven torpedos? Were there ever? A great concept.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Actually, there were very early in the development of torpedoes. About the same time steamships were in use. They weren’t terribly successful. Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks much! 🙂


  4. J. Raven says:

    As always, loved it. This was an interesting take on science fiction where the science was stunted with regards to warfare despite advanced transportation methods.

    Luckily, Earthlings take great pride in the ways we’ve devised to kill each other. Ugh – what a statement 😉

    Question…how do you come-up with names? The names you use are always amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      The rate of technological development is an aspect I think is often overlooked. It always makes for an interesting scifi story. People always think they have it all figured out, until that first encounter…

      I’m glad you like the names. I don’t know how I get them. They just pop in my head. One interesting thing to do is look at Arabic, Indian, Native American, and Thai names. Their structure is so different from Western ones. They help me think about names differently and come up with new ones.

      Glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks so very much! 🙂


  5. yarnspinnerr says:

    Steam-powered torpedoes – truly out of box thinking.


  6. I have a bad feeling about this, for the aliens. Earth is saved by wrong thinking. Well done, Eric. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Yep. The aliens are due for a severe shock. They’ll be outclassed in every way except interstellar drive systems. That won’t last long though. I imagine humans will have warp drive after capturing two very surprised aliens. 😉 Glad you liked it. Thanks much, Suzanne! 🙂


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