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Looking for a short story that I read in the 1980s. Following the discovery of an alien spacecraft apparently bound to Earth, plagued with conflicts, mankind organizes and prepares for contact, setting up a complete protocol. This preparation turns out to be in vain, as the alien spacecraft just passes by and leaves, completely ignoring Earth and humans.

Important: this is the core plot of this short story (not a novel). Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama and Fountains of Paradise are not the answer, as these are novels and their core plots are much larger than that.

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    Could this be "The Ethical Equations" by Murray Leinster?
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 18:48
  • Thank you. Unfortunately, this is not the one. I could find it on the net and the story is much different. Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 21:46

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"The Invasion of Venus" by Stephen Baxter could be a match. The alien spacecraft does indeed ignore Earth and humans completely. But it doesn't simply "pass by and leave"; it wreaks a bit of havoc elsewhere in the solar system before departing.

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    Thank you, but this is not the one. No "havoc" part, and the short story I have in mind is pre-1990s (I read it in the 1980s). This one is from 2010. Commented May 22, 2022 at 19:11

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