This was a story that I read probably 20 years ago, so not here on HFY. It may have been in one of the "Best of SciFi" anthologies of the year books.

It was a conversation between two aliens about the recently discovered humans and their ability to turn almost any alien tech into a weapon.

All I remember was that they were shocked at what we did with the alien's toaster. They were also worried about humanity annexing the aliens, so the aliens had better annex the humans first.

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    – Edlothiad
    Jun 7, 2017 at 16:51
  • Glad that we could help you, Will. I hope you stick around. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 7, 2017 at 18:58
  • 1
    Not an answer: stickman.qntm.org/comics.php?n=244 (StickManStickMan webcomic, the Doctor explains that you can make a laser gun from a hairdryer, which is why guns in the Doctor Who TV series appeared to be hairdryers)
    – b_jonas
    Jun 7, 2017 at 19:09

1 Answer 1


This could be Asimov's "Homo Sol" (ISFDB entry showing it's been in a lot of collections).

Tan Porus, master psychologist at Arcturus University, is invited to join the delegation to be sent to administer the invitation, but sends one of his assistants. The delegation returns in despair; not only have the Solarians refused the invitation, but they exhibit irrational and war-like behavior that contravenes the sacrosanct psychological laws established over millennia by Federation psychologists.

In opposition to his doubting colleagues, Porus insists that the hominids of this new planet are something special: a species susceptible to panic en masse. "What of Kraut's Law," a colleague asks him, "which says it is impossible to panic more than five hominids at a time?" Porus dismisses this with scorn, manipulates the Federation Council into sending him to Earth to demonstrate his thesis, and in a short time broadcasts back the results of his demonstration: "Panic, morons! World-wide panic!" Porus is eventually able to work out the psychological means to convince the Solarians to accept membership in the Federation.

As per the description here:

when humans invent FTL and send a spaceship to Alpha Centauri to settle the 5th planet, our civilization is invited to join the galactic federation. The advanced races are fascinated that we've outdone their technology, with an improvement of "hyperatomic" drive. Humans modify various peaceful alien technologies into deadly weapons.

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