So the aliens sent down pods, maybe they were phones, requesting info and would give you things in return. I remember a guy asked for a device that could make anything you want using nanotechnology. It would make it by disassembling items near by. He was wanted I think and made guns or a ship or something like that. I'm pretty sure it was in a book of short stories I read like 3 or 4 years ago.

  • You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Oct 5 '20 at 6:36
  • Duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/4695/… , which shouldn't have been closed as its much older.
    – spirc
    Oct 7 '20 at 19:23
  • @spirc Our policy is to close the less descriptive question and/or answer, regardless of age (see scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4749).
    – Null
    Oct 7 '20 at 19:38
  • @Null, that is so unfair, I've had that question since 2011, it has many upvotes and has been useful to many people, and now it's closed? That doesn't make sense, this question isn't significantly better at all.
    – spirc
    Oct 8 '20 at 0:04
  • @spirc There is nothing wrong with a question that's been closed as a duplicate. This question isn't significantly better (it is slightly more detailed) but the answer to this question is significantly better than the answer to your question, therefore it makes sense to me to close your question as a duplicate even though it is older.
    – Null
    Oct 8 '20 at 22:12

Although it is a novel rather than a short story, this sounds very like (one of the) plots in "Singularity Sky",by Charles Stross, first published in 2003.

The particular sub-plot deals with the "Festival" arriving at a planet called Rochard's World. It makes contact with the inhabitants by raining down cell-phones from orbit. Quoting the summary from Wikipedia:

Those who pick them up hear the Festival, "Entertain us," it asks, "and we will give you what you want." Interlocutors who successfully entertain the Festival by telling it something it has not heard are rewarded with anything they wish for. At first they request food or other modest needs, but then Burya Rubenstein, exiled to the colony for his role in leading an uprising, asks for a cornucopia machine...

and rapidly the economy of the world collapses. As the OP mentions, the Festival makes the objects by breaking down nearby matter, and reassembling it into the desired form using nanotechnology.

  • One person asks for a disguise and a life of adventure. He is made young again, and is being chased by the mimes. The mimes are zombies who look like, well, mimes. They infect others with nano-enabled pies. They don't talk. They are tireless. In fact, if they could avoid the invisible walls and winds, they'd have caught up to our now-young hero long ago. One memorable scene.
    – NomadMaker
    Oct 6 '20 at 0:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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