I remember reading a short story, somewhen in the late 90s, about an alien invasion.

Earth is overwhelmed, all its ships are disintegrated, and when they are about to lose, they are told they are participating in a galactic wargame, kinda like a chess game. The twist at the end was that

None of their ships were destroyed, they were merely teleported somewhere until the end of the game.

Maybe this could have been written by Asimov, but I'm not sure. BTW, I read it in French.

  • 38
    Are you sure you didn't accidentally read Ender's Game backwards?
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 18:23
  • 2
    I'm not very sure, actually. It's been a long time since I read ender too. I'm going to read it again to be sure.
    – Orange Lux
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 19:20
  • I don't think it's the story you're looking for, but based on your interest I want to recommend "The Lomokome Papers" by Herman Wouk, which is excellent and shares some similarities.
    – Hawk
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


"Honorable Opponent", a short story by Clifford D. Simak, first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1956, available at the Internet Archive. It appeared in French as "Honorable adversaire" here and here. Any of these covers or these look familiar? If you read it in French in the late 1990s, it was probably in the 1998 Simak collection Honorable adversaire et autres nouvelles.

In this passage the war is over and now we learn that, while we have been destroying their ships, they have merely been teleporting ours out of the action:

The general tried to speak, but the lump was there to stop him. He swallowed it and tried once again.

“We didn’t understand,” he said.

“You did not have a taker,” said the Fiver. “That why you fight so rough.”

“We couldn’t help it,” the general told him. “We didn’t know. We never fought this way before.”

“We give you takers,” said the Fiver. “Next time, we play it right. You do much better with the takers. It easier on us.”

No wonder, the general thought, they didn’t know about an armistice. No wonder they were confused about the negotiations and the prisoner exchange. Negotiations are not customarily needed to hand back the pieces one has won in a game.

  • The last image of the first link may be the one! I read lots of books from this collection.
    – Orange Lux
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 20:05
  • 9
    @MarcBrillault: Take your time; no rush to decide on an accept. Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 23:36
  • You were right, that IS the story I remembered. Thanks for everything !
    – Orange Lux
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 20:56
  • You're welcome!
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 21:06

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