In the story, an officer describes an ongoing war between humans and aliens. The aliens have less advanced technology so they assume they will easily when. However, the officer remises on how much of the new technology used in the war was unreliable and could not be produced in high numbers, and some even exploded and destroyed their own spaceships, leading to humanity losing a war of attrition. The story was very short, 20 pages at most, and part of some collection/anthology, and released before the year 2010.

  • 2010? That’s the year we make contact!!! Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


This is, of course, Arthur C. Clarke's 1951 classic "Superiority".

The story is written by the surviving general of the defending forces as a letter to his captors, explaining why he cannot vouch for his actions if he's required to continue to share a cell with the enthusiastic but utterly clueless head scientist.

It appears to have been among the first questions asked on this site.

It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1951, and can be read online at the Internet Archive.

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    I once read a comment that, historically, the gap between "we have invented an exciting new weapon!" and "this weapon now has all the bugs out, and our tactical doctrine makes efficient use of its capabilities to help us win battles!" can be around 50 years. One example: the Gatling gun was invented during the U.S. Civil War, but didn't make much difference in the outcome. Half a century later, in World War I, its 'descendants' (more modern machine guns) were very important in ground and air combat. So trusting new technology to win a big war right away is dangerously naive.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 17:17

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