“Prize Ship” August 1952
The representatives of Ganymede, a mere moon, have been trying to get equal status with the representatives of the planets. The other planets, especially Terra and Mars, are at war with Ganymede, which controls the space cradles they need to launch transport ships to their colonies in deep space. The situation looks grim, and the senators from the various planets are about to vote and, it would seem, to capitulate to the Ganymedeans. Then Mars captures an odd Ganymedean ship, and the Terrans decide to try it out before they can analyze how it works. A crew of four attempts to take it to Mars. But they end up somewhere different. Everyone is tiny, and soon part of the crew suspects that they are in the world of Lilliput created by Jonathan Swift. To test the theory, they take the ship in the opposite “direction” and they end up in Brobdingnag. They think Swift saw these worlds through his madness and put them in stories. They return to Terra where a Ganymede representative has come to claim his ship. It turns out it’s a time ship, not a space ship. The changing relative size of the Terrans over time is just a function of the expansion of the universe. And Gulliver’s Travels* can go on being just a children’s tale. Or a social satire.
- The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford and Other Classic Stories* by Philip K. Dick