This question already has an answer here:

I'm searching for a science fiction book, with the twist that I haven't actually read this book. I have only heard the outline of the plot of it. But I'm fairly certain that it is indeed a book, and not some plot I dreamt up myself.

It goes like this:

  • Due to some silly oversight, humankind has never discovered anti-gravity and faster-than-light travel, something other species usually discover around their corresponding stone age.
  • Somewhere around the modern day, an alien fleet lands on Earth, armed with spears and shields, and demand that humans surrender and become their slaves.
  • Obviously, the aliens get steamrolled by cruise missiles and tanks and electronic communication, which humans were forced to develop due to being stuck on their own planet without knowledge of anti-gravity.
  • Humans steal the alien technology and go into space.

Additional info: I read the plot description in English (but that doesn't say much) in an English speaking online forum which is long defunct. I read it somewhere between 2000 and 2005.

marked as duplicate by Jenayah, Kevin, Bellatrix, Blackwood, starpilotsix Dec 20 '18 at 23:30

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


This is "The Road Not Taken" by Harry Turtledove.

The premise is that somehow anti-gravity is "easy" to discover, but is a technological dead end, so that races that discover anti-gravity end up exploring the stars, focusing their energy outward. Whereas on Earth, failure to discover anti-gravity lead to the renaissance and modern technology.

In the story the aliens actually fought with flintlock guns and simple cannon. Heat-seeking air-to-air missiles don't work against their ships, but radar-guided missiles work, and modern military weapons make short work of the invaders.

The story ends before humans actually go to space, but with the realization on the part of 2 captured aliens that humanity is now going to be effectively unstoppable.

  • It seems to match nearly exactly, as you say. I've marked it as the correct answer. Thanks! – Truncated Dec 20 '18 at 22:03
  • 1
    Question: Did the Aliens call the Human machine guns, something like "Stitching Weapons"? I recall a story like this, but THAT weapon description is what stuck out to me. – NJohnny Dec 21 '18 at 5:15
  • 1
    @NJohnny No, that's a different story. It was a full-length book, but I do not remember the title or author, just that it was definitely different than "The Road Not Taken". – Trip Space-Parasite Dec 21 '18 at 17:40
  • Ok Thanks. I will keep looking. ;) – NJohnny Dec 24 '18 at 2:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.