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This is an old one I read around 1990 (give or take 2-3 years). I most likely read it in a bundle of short-stories in Dutch translation. The original is most likely English.
It was quite short (probably no more than 10 pages) and very humorous. I really like to read it again, but I have a hard time tracking it down.

The plot (as far as I can remember):
Mankind has just made it to interstellar travel and is discovered by an alien civilization.
The aliens (for some reason I can' recall) decide to blockade Earth. Every ship that tries to go beyond Low Earth Orbit is bounced back by some invisible shield.
The main character is a human space-ship owner/pilot and sits in a bar on another planet/space station. He explains to his drinking-buddies that the alien "powers-that-be" are telepaths and that is how they know if someone tries to leave Earth. And then they bounce the ship back using telekinesis.
He then goes on to explain why they didn't catch him: He was so drunk when he flew away from Earth the telepathy didn't work on him.
It ends with something alone the lines of: "So if you want to keep those pesky telepaths out of your mind you'll need some good old-fashioned Earth moonshine. As it happens I have an entirey cargo-hold full of it. Do you want to buy some ?"

Does this ring a bell for someone?

  • 3
    I don't know but I want to read this story. – MissMonicaE Nov 14 '16 at 16:42
  • This reminds me of Senses Three and Six by David Brin, which is also about an alien quarantine of earth, and the main character works in a bar. But it definitely isn't humorous – Paul Nov 15 '16 at 0:21
  • @paul I know that Brin story and that isn't this. Good story, by the way, but a bit heavy. – Tonny Nov 15 '16 at 6:29
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The story is Don't Fence Me In by Richard Wilson.

The protagonist is relating his story in a saloon on Ventua IV.

I was telling about why we stopped building spaceships. The first one up from Earth crashed, you know. That was because when it reached the Barrier it tried to blast through it with its forward rockets.

...

The Federated Planets - we call it the Federation Now - put it as tactful as they could but what they put was that us Earth people had a long way to go before we'd be worthy of travelling outside our own air.

The protagonist uses an old spaceship for intercontinental trade. He manages to escape the Barrier accidentally.

It got late and I tried to ease off but when the host suggested one for the road I had to go along with it. He must have laced that one so it'd last all the way to California because when I set the autopilot for Murac it was strictly a blind jab. Off we went, me and the spacer, baroom.

Well that was it.

Next thing I knew I was somewhere beyond Mars.

...

That's all they were, Gyubi, you old barfly - mind readers and hypnotists. And that's all their Barrier was, a vaudeville trick.

He is now selling booze to similarly restricted planets.

What you need, Pal, is an antidote. Happens I have a sample right here. Yes, sir - Singapore Sling, bottled in full three-fifths quart size, only ten venturas the bottle.

  • Yes! That is it! Your quotes are instantly recognizable. I must have read it in the Dutch Prisma bundel from 1976. The Dutch title I also recognize now. – Tonny Nov 15 '16 at 6:32

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