Here's the story and you'd think if I could remember all this detail I'd know the name:

A man is selected by some random process to represent all of Earth and he's being interviewed by an alien galactic empire. The powers on earth, thinking they are bound to fail the test, rig him up so that it appears he has a subspace radio communicating back to Earth in secret- but it's all a ploy to make the aliens believe we have subspace radio technology even though we've discovered there can be no such thing.

The aliens see through the whole deceit and launch missiles to destroy earth - not only are we war-like and dangerous, but deceitful as well. But at the last minute the chief interrogator has a change of heart - figuring we have a unique survival trait that might be useful in an impending problem elsewhere in the galaxy and orders the missiles destroyed - that instruction being sent by subspace radio! Really neat short story - it was in an anthology of short stories probably by the same author published c1960. Brian Aldiss?

  • I know this story, I just can't remember its name or where I read it. I think it's by either Asimov or Clarke, possibly called "Deception", but my Google-fu has failed me. – Keith Thompson Jan 12 '13 at 23:07
  • This one sounds interesting. I hope we track this one down. – Solemnity Jan 13 '13 at 2:22
  • The short-stories bibliographies for Asimov and Clarke do not contain titles related to deception, sadly. – Solemnity Jan 13 '13 at 5:25
  • Asimov does have a story,"Franchise", where a single individual is interviewed by Multivac to determine all the elections in the country. – Jim Green Jan 14 '13 at 14:36
  • @JimGreen: Yes, I know that one as well; it's not the same story. BTW, my (possibly inaccurate) recollection is that humans had subspace radio (possibly called "hyperwave"), and were trying to hide it from the aliens. – Keith Thompson Jan 14 '13 at 16:34

Brian Aldiss, from the Space, Time and Nathaniel collection. I'm not sure which story it is - might be "Conviction" or "Panel Game" (from where I am just now I can only find a list of titles, not synopses).

  • Yup, this is the one. – user8719 Feb 27 '13 at 20:00

It is Conviction, from Brian Aldiss' Space, Time and Nathaniel.

And that, of course, would have been the end of the story - for earth at least. It would have been completely destroyed - - but Mordregon - - decided that, after all, the warped brains of earthmen might be useful in coping with the warped brains of the enemy Eleventh Galaxy. He called it "an expedient war time measure". Quietly, he deflected the speeding missile from its target - - -.

  • Defected or deflected? – Valorum Jan 23 '18 at 10:47
  • 1
    Deflected. Now detected (by you) and corrected. – Mike Stone Jan 23 '18 at 10:50
  • Detected or detlected? – Valorum Jan 23 '18 at 11:10

In The Dosadi Experiment, Frank Herbert has the protagonist on trial towards the end of the book in the alien Gowachin's legal system. However, I don't think this is the story you are after. I read (or listened to) the story you seek sometime in the last two or three years. I seem to remember that in the lead up to the trial...

I've just followed a train of thought through the Internet and I think the story might be The Tactful Saboteur by Mr Herbert. I located it online here. It's a short story set before The Whipping Star and The Dosadi Experiment novels and involves the same main character, Jorj X. McKie.

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