I read an old short story about a world with all small independent cities. If any city would get too powerful than other cities could blow it up. It created this strange kind of peace where cities could not aspire to grow too large lest they make their neighbors nervous but could live fairly simply.

But for the life of me I can't remember the title. Thanks in advance for the help.

  • 1
    When did you read this short story? Was it in a book? Magazine? Anthology? On the web? What language was it in? Do you have any memories of names or descriptions of characters? Even tiny bits of information can help.
    – phantom42
    Aug 24, 2015 at 12:48
  • Sounds like a put-into-practice macro-scale (and slightly less negative) version of the Law of Jante. Aug 24, 2015 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


Could this be the second book of The Taken Trilogy The Light-Years Beneath My Feet?

Book cover

It features an alien culture, the Niyu, who practice a form of ritualistic televised warfare wherein they can only use medieval weaponry. Anyone who transgresses these limits will be wiped out by all of the other cultures. As Marcus starts to engineer a way to make one city more powerful than the rest so as to empower a leader to help him off-planet, he learns that a city who becomes too powerful to dogpile by the others may also suffer the same fate.

I've just now noticed that you're looking for a short story, but I'll keep the answer up on the odd chance that you later realize you are mistaken.


Could it be "Conquest by Default"?

post-nuclear war Earth, anarchist aliens arrive(the Mikin). Their only nod to shared government or authority is a pseudo-priest class who's primary duty is to watch organizations/groups within their society for signs of "bigness" and to declare antitrust actions if the groups refuse to split into smaller ones.

  • The relationship of the description to "Conquest by Default" occured to me too, but Vinge's story employs a totally different enforcement mechanism as one of the most prominent features of the story, so it seems unlikely. Aug 24, 2015 at 19:10

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