Portrait of the geek as a young man: Author Robert Gillis hard at work writing, 1985.
Portrait of the geek as a young man: Author Robert Gillis hard at work writing a story on his trusty TI-99 4/a computer, 1985.
by Robert Gillis, 1985

An excerpt from one of my earliest stories, “The Abucs Scenario.” (1986) So if John Matthews really was, as he claimed, a member of an advanced extraterrestrial race bent on conquering Earth, what would he do? Well, go on “Nightline,” of course!


“Good evening. Tonight, live from the Hidatios Prime, the mother ship of his battle fleet, we have the newly self crowned ruler of Earth, John Matthews.”

“Die, humanoid scum! Whoop! Whoop! Dive! Dive! Gadzooks! I’m in the state, state of CON- FUSION!

“It appears we have him. Mr. Matthews?”

“Hello, Koppel Lifeform.”

“Mr. Matthews, how can we address you?”

“Hmmmm. Well, my official title is Humanti Valinor of the Third Circle, Tricommander, and Praetor of the Terran Star Cluster. Call me Almighty.”

“Mr. Matthews, let’s start with some simple questions. Why have you chosen to take over Earth at this time?”

“I was bored. School’s a drag, y’know, and the chicks are so — ”

“Where are you from? Is it a planet near here, or another galaxy?” Koppel asked.

John snorted. “What a stupid question. It’s far, Koppel. Really far. You might even say infinitely far.”

“Are you saying that you can travel faster than the speed of light? According to Einstein that is impossible.”

“I do not worship your god of relativity.”

“I understand you claim you’re immortal — ”

“CLAIM? Watch it, human! I’ll destroy you. Well, yeah. I’m immortal by YOUR primitive standards.”

“Mr. Matthews, you are the first contact Earth has had with extraterrestrial life! Surely there are better ways to communicate than a military takeover! We could learn so much from each other!”

“Like what?”

“Well, an exchange of knowledge. A cure for heart disease?”

“No, thanks. The Valinorian Empire already has one. You humans are all alike. Don’t you think I watch “V” every week? Sure. Get all the knowledge you can from the silly alien and send him packing with the red dust. No way.”

“Now, joining us live in New York, we have Cornell astronomer Doctor Carl Sagan, author of COSMOS. He’d like to ask you a few questions, Mr. Matthews.”

“New York? New York. Oh! That big city near Canada that I wasted before we went on the air!”

Koppel sighed. “Mr. Matthews — you are a rather unique guest. Well, in Boston we have secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger.”

“Boston’s gone, Koppel. I tested my particle accelerator ray on it during the DRAINO commercial.”

“Just a message to our affiliates: We’ll be running a bit late. Now, Mr. Matthews: It amazes me… And don’t think I’m trying to goad you into an argument, but it amazes me that for a so called superior extraterrestrial, your…”

“Spit it out, Earthling.”

“Your attitude, Mr. Matthews. It’s rather childlike.”

“Ah! You noticed that! Well, there is a reason for that.”

“And would you care to share it with us?”

“Don’t condescend, Koppel. Yes, I’ll share it. The babes love it. They want me.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been informed that ABC has lost control over this broadcast, but nonetheless I’d like to apologize for Mr. Matthews’s language.”

“Oh, really, Ted. Your planet is about to be destroyed, and you’re worried about a PG 13 rating.”

“So I’m to understand that your childlike attitude — ”

“Is to get the babes? You got it!”

“This has gone on long enough. The people of Earth will not allow you to continue this insane rampage. We have fought and resisted oppression before — ”

“Two fighting colonies of ants. Big deal.”

” — and we will again. You can’t do this.”

“Sure I can.”

“What about nuclear weapons? Many countries have the power to shoot you out of the sky even as we speak.”

“What a funny idea. That primitive nuclear toys could possibly be a threat to me.”

“Let’s get back to square one.”

“I’d rather get back to Regulus 6.”

“Look. Your ships are devastating the planet. You feel no guilt at all?”


“I’ll repeat the question. Your ships are devastating the planet. You feel no guilt at all?”

“Look, Ted. We’re talking about HUMANS here! Earth people! It’s not like we’re discussing intelligent life or something!”

“Well, we’re out of time. Mr. Matthews, in the next thirty seconds can you sum up what you want to say to the people of Earth?”

“Sure. Thirty seconds, huh?”

“Well, twenty, actually.”

“That’s enough. Computer, begin twenty second countdown to detonation.”

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