In this story a huge tripod alien ship has invaded and is perched over the central US. The aliens have wiped out all tech and sent most human population back to the Stone Age. Still, there are pockets of resistance remaining, and the humans, with still a few remaining atomic bombs, are desperate to topple the spacecraft, so that they can defeat the aliens with sheer numbers. They invent a silent friction climber and send a guy up to climb one of the legs with an atomic bomb to try to bring the massive ship down. I read this story sometime in the 80s, unknown anthology.

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    When did you read it? Was it a short story or a novel? Was this the main theme of the story or merely an event in a larger story? Are you sure it was a nuke (e.g. instead of another big explosive)? Do you remember any of the names of the characters? How were they attempting to evade detection?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 18:00
  • Did it work? Was this one of those stories where the aliens win?
    – user14111
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 21:15
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    I think I know the story. It's a short - an alien ship has landed on the Earth and is busy repairing itself. The aliens ignore humanity except when they get in their way, in which case, it doesn't end well for the humans. Most of the story is set inside a vehicle that's slowly crawling up one of the landing legs; the vehicle is camouflaged with fibre optics that make it practically invisible
    – andrewsi
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 0:48
  • The ending has the bomb going off successfully, but not doing serious damage - the main effect is that it damages the landing legs (I think one falls through into a cavern?) and the resistance are delighted that it'll take the aliens another couple of decades to recover
    – andrewsi
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 0:49
  • I'd've read it in the late 80s, I guess - I'd assume the whole "aliens land on Earth and ignore us" trope would date it to the 70s, though :)
    – andrewsi
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


It's "For Love" aka "All for Love" by Algis Budrys, first published in the June 1962 issue of Galaxy, available at the Internet Archive.

The ship has been there for many years and the aliens have never emerged or done anything. The team attacking the ship are able to pick up a sound inside which they eventually identify as an endless screaming, and realise that the aliens have become insane, and so will never be able to carry out whatever they originally intended to do.

It was reprinted in The Seventh Galaxy Reader, edited by Frederik Pohl, and also in Budrys' collection Blood and Burning.

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