I'm looking for a short story written before 1998.

Telepathy had been discovered and early experiments picked up thoughts from distant alien civilisations, which were vast and highly advanced. The aliens were unaware of Earth and nobody so far had found a way to make them hear us - human thoughts were too "quiet" for them to notice.

A star was discovered on a collision course with Earth and humans didn't have the technology to divert it or escape. The only hope was to attract some of the aliens' attention, since they would be easily able to help. Someone came up with a plan to create a mental "shout" by having everyone on Earth focus on the same thing at the same time.

Emotions were known to carry well in telepathy, so the most powerful human emotion was suggested. A device was available to enhance people's emotions, but everybody would have to choose to use it. The story finished with one of the proposers promoting the plan using the quote in the title.

1 Answer 1


Love That Universe by Arthur C. Clarke.

I read it as a young whippersnapper in Clarke's anthology The Wind from the Sun. It's a very short story, only three pages in my book. It ends:

Now there is only one way in which a signal of the required intensity can be produced. I said that fear was a powerful generator—but it is not powerful enough. Even if we could strike all humanity with a simultaneous moment of terror, the impulse could not be detected more than two thousand light-years away. We need at least four times this range. And we can achieve it—by using the only emotion that is more powerful than fear.


Mankind now faces its ultimate emergency. In such a moment of crisis, is it not right for us to call upon the instinct that has always ensured our survival in the past? A poet in an earlier, almost equally troubled age put it better than I can ever hope to do:


  • 3
    Thanks, that's the one. In case anyone else was wondering, the poet mentioned seems to be W. H. Auden. Nov 29, 2022 at 12:58

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