I'm looking for a fairly old (probably 70s or earlier) story where the main character, who is possibly homeless or doesn't have much money, is approached on the street by an unidentified man who offers him money to sign a document signing over mineral exploitation / fishing rights for the Earth & Moon.

He's not sure if it's a serious offer, and space law really works that way or not, or if it's just a gag. In the end he's still unclear about whether or not he's permanently changed the interstellar legal status of Earth.


1 Answer 1


This could be Bernie the Faust by William Tenn

It starts off with the Alien wanting to buy "a twenty for a five". This progresses to wanting to buy the Golden Gate Bridge. Eventually he wants the whole Earth.

"I'll make it a good price. But this is the deal. I pay two thousand dollars cash. I get Earth , the whole planet, and you have to throw in some stuff on the moon. Fishing rights, mineral rights, and rights to buried treasure. How about it?"

Bibliography at isfdb.

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