A few years ago I was listening to the radio (Minnesota Public Radio in Minneapolis if that helps) around Christmas time. Whatever program was on either performed a radio play or read a short story aloud about how Santa was an alien who studied humans centuries ago, and stories of his visits had eventually become what we know as the Santa Christmas narrative.

I remember a whole bunch of specific details:

  • He had a base that was buried under Arctic ice that was discovered by a female researcher/explorer;
  • In order to prove he was truly alien, he cut his wrist or palm to show that his blood was orange and fizzed when it hit the table.
  • Santa's internal monologue also mentioned that he wasn't going to show the researcher that his penis was fluorescent green (I may have mixed up the orange/green colors, but you get my drift).

Other random details:

  • Santa's spacecraft had a mess of antennas on the front that were interpreted by the humans he studied as reindeer.
  • He'd bribe humans with bits of metal for something in return (this part is a bit fuzzy, but my best guess is that is was for anthropological insights from humans). This forms the basis for "Santa brings gifts."

Has anyone else heard of this story or know its title?


1 Answer 1


This might be "Human Intelligence: A Holiday Tale" by Kurt Andersen. It appears to have been originally broadcast in Dec 24, 2010 according to the episode page on PRI.org.

Kurt Andersen’s version of a Christmas story doesn’t have your typical talking snowman or mistletoe. Instead, this holiday tale involves extraterrestrial surveillance and melting polar ice caps.

I haven't listened to all of it, but it mentions "a large antenna array jutting from the front and landing rails instead of wheels."

It was adapted from the short story "Human Intelligence" (2010) published in Stories: All-new Tales edited by Gaiman and Sarrantonio.

  • Just to confirm, I have that book, it's right now open on my lap after I saw this query. That is indeed the short story as described
    – Danny Mc G
    Jun 21, 2020 at 0:29

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