I think it's a wonderful idea. I can see management and labor from the auto industry banding together to fight this new threat! An entire industry wiped out overnight! Congress would step in and impose punitive trade sanctions against the aliens, closing our markets unless some sort of trade balance is put in place. Great wads of cash flow out of every economy in the world, to go ... where?
Would the earth be bankrupted upon first contact, $31 at a time?
Imagine a huge black market in alien cars when the government tries to crack down.
I suggest you give thought to having the cars be really great; like they get unheard of mileage, or run really well on any amount of ambient light (even moonlight). Have them fix themselves, or maybe they can fly like in the Jetsons.
I imagine it would please the aliens very much to be seeing the humans riding around in their little toy cars. They would probably get bored of it and leave once they figured out we had decided to stop buying the cars for driving (for the shortages of gasoline and plummeting quality of the air) and were just buying the cars so that we could scrap them and build futuristic machines using the advanced alien technology.
But, knowing aliens, there would probably be some sort of tamper-proof sticker on the car that would blow up the earth if someone tried to dismantle it.
Actually, the aliens are a metaphor for the ravages of NAFTA. They are undercutting the labor in developed countries and basically taking over the world by supplying transportation at such a low cost that our entire military industrial complex (which thrives on gouging consumers and government) dissolves.
Of course, what they really wanted was a collection of all those new US currency what with our large format pictures and funny little security strips and watermarks. And, they just really love the state-quarters and the Sacajawea coin. Go figure.
Turns out they have a fondness for the Queen's likeness too.
Not very interested in Lira, but then, who can blame them.
[This message has been edited by jackonus (edited September 06, 2000).]
heheh It has actually got me thinking more about the story.
As to what the aliens get out of it hmm I had a few ideas on that
1. the cars are obselete on their world, and since the cars are indestructible, they cant get rid of them any other way!
2. The alien race had no currency system before they started monitoring the earth, and to say the least they were VERY impressed with the whole idea and they dont realize they could just print their own money so they devise a way to aquire ours but see, they dont want it for the traditional reasons, to them its all prestige
Anyway for the big moral issue in the book I thought about revealing at some point that the cars themself are either created by another enslaved race of beings OR the cars themself were constructed from the slaughtered bodies of a mechanical race of beings
But that doesnt make the aliens as innocent as I had orignally planned
Well, there's a basic law of economics that states that when the relative efficiencies of two societies differ iin the production of any trade good, it's in the interests of both societies to trade, even if one society does everything better than the other.
Or to be more direct, let's say that building a cheap, durable, basic transport unit for the aliens takes one hour of labor with a STC copier. They just punch a button, read a short story collection (and keep an eye out for any blinking blue lights) and in one hour, they have a servicable car.
On the other hand, to make a good African funerary mask takes three hours of fairly involved technical work using a EDC workstation (the EDC is a bit more expensive than the STC), and even then you end up with a copy (an absolutely perfect copy, but it's still not like it's been made by real African's from Africa, is it?). But for $12 dollars they can buy them from geneuine impoverished Africans, who can make three of them in a week and buy a car with the money.
Of course, they would probably like some of our other cultural knick nacks...and it's possible that they would even like attending human cultural events and such (just think, with a whole line of STC copiers, one guy could turn out a hundred cars an hour, and still spend most of his time reading human dime novels (actually, $5dollar paperbacks, unless they buy the novels off the web, which they probably would, come to think of it). That's over $3,000.00 an hour for mostly sitting around reading novels. Why the heck am I not an alien?
Spend one hour a day, or even a week, making that kind of money, then just play tourist and spend it all during the rest of your free time...the only real problem is not getting mobbed by angry humans that are insanely (justifiably insanity, I'm already going nut's thinking about how easy these guys have it) envious of your life? There's not even any problem with trade imbalance...the only place that the aliens could possibly spend the money is on Earth anyway (although it could affect some countries drastically if the aliens liked the culture and artifacts of one country more than anyone elses, particularly if it were a country that until then hadn't been particularly important (I don't know that we would take an entire population hostage and make them our virtual slaves, though I fear we would, but certainly if we didn't then someone else would). Those African funerary masks might be a presage to terrible suffering....
Anyway, who's to say that the aliens wouldn't offer to buy all the old, outdated antiques (after all, those would take all day with a set of EDC workstations linked in parallel) that we are left with? I'm sure they wouldn't pay top dollar, but they might pay a fair price (say $15). Or maybe the just buy them as scrap iron for their manufacturing process, they have to get materials somewhere, don't they?
But I think that the real problem would be what such a radical increase in wealth would do to us. Humans rarely become much better just by becomeing more materially wealthy. I rather imagine that our culture would rapidly decay into a parody of unending greed and entitlement, at which point the aliens would finally realize that unless they wanted filth and refuse, there was no further point in dealing with us.
At which point they disappear over the horizon and leave our despondent buts in the lurch.
I'd respectfully suggest that what you have there is a bacground for a story...not a story...
What you need is a main character - say a used car salesman, who is being undercut on price with new cars by a new chain that's opened in town. Curious as to how they're getting them so cheap, he hires a private investigator to find out.
In a scene not too dissimlar to ....good grief...I know this is a film...following people who look human...to an underground base..where they are building something..I just can't remember what film it was. Or was it TV? Brain fugue.
Anyway, even an amusing story has to do all the standard things.
It's not a bad idea, though it's vaguely reminiscent of War of The Worlds the TV series (but only vaguely)...
PS, if you decide you don't want to write it, I'll have a go.
PPS I remembered who was in it - Charlie Sheen - and I went and looked it up on IMDB -it's 'The Arrival'
[This message has been edited by WileyKat (edited September 15, 2000).]
Also, these cars would be pretty basic. STC designs are robust and versitile, but very basic when you get right down to it. Basic particle beam triggered fusion cell, powering independent drive motors in the hub of each wheel, so that gives you pretty responsive four wheel drive and regenerative/anti-lock braking, and of course the safety cage is rated to 300g's...but you don't get cruise control or am/fm radio, let alone a cd player and OnStar (tm). In fact, the STC design doesn't include instruments at all, and most don't have much in the way of extraneous environmental controls (unless you produce one of the hostile environment types, and those cost more to make-on the plus side, they usually come with weapon mounting points...).
Now that would make a really interesting story. What if instead of personal autos, the aliens started selling APC's to all comers for just $59.95?