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Help me find this book or short story, from which I remember single scene.

I have read book or part of it in Czech around the year 2000.

The book is either very convincing steampunk, or very old (pre 1950's).

The story takes place during the "late colonial era", theme is an alien invasion.

The scene I recall is an international conference happening before the invasion, where aliens are also present. The aliens requests some territory where they can settle. Global powers are eager to offer their colonies for that purpose. Aliens however specifies that only land they are willing to accept is located in continental France. This is furiously rejected by French envoy, thus the war begins.

The scene feels like a criticism to 1938's Munich Agreement, so I would date it to 1938 the earliest and would bet on it being written during the Second World War.

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    How does the war go. or does the story end with the beginning of the war? What are the aliens like?
    – user14111
    Aug 14, 2023 at 9:54

1 Answer 1

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I found the book!

It is Kerel Čapek War with the Newts

And passage I shamefuly (mis)remebered is chapter "Conference in Vaduz"

Reason why I wasn't able to connect remembered passage with the book was because I remembered the passage from the school textbook with lacking context. And I also get a lot of details wrong.

theme is an alien invasion.

The Aliens are in fact intelligent prehistoric species of newts, that were discovered in pacific ocean. They are immediately enslaved and exploited. After years of mistreatment they, unknowingly to humans, manage to form their own nation and started to attack human ships and coasts.

The scene I recall is an international conference happening before the invasion, where aliens are also present.

The conference is called when it is obvious that hostilities are perpetrated by the Newts. Newts are not present in person, but are being represented by hired human lawyers.

The aliens requests some territory where they can settle. Global powers are eager to offer their colonies for that purpose. Aliens however specifies that only land they are willing to accept is located in continental France. This is furiously rejected by French envoy, thus the war begins.

At this point Newts had already sunk part of the coast in Senegambia using explosives purchased from human nations. They offer compensation in gold for the sunken land, but only if French were willing to sell part of the French coast as well. This is rejected and Newts threatens that they will continue to sunk the land whether it was sold or not. Powers then offers large parts of China to be sunk instead. Chinese envoy get no chance to talk.

The scene feels like a criticism to 1938's Munich Agreement, so I would date it to 1938 the earliest and would bet on it being written during the Second World War.

I was completely wrong, book was written in 1936, whole two years before the Munich agreement. In light of this, the fate of Chinese territories in the story is eerily similar to what happened to Čapek's homeland in the wake of WW2.

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