Chapter 14 Summary
Reporters gather in the conference room, waiting for Karellen. They have received no announcement of a press conference, but these things become known as fast as a rumor. They grumble that they are not allowed to bring in any recording devices, only paper and pencil. In the past, some have tried but have found that the machines melted. No one ever makes the same mistake twice.
The lights dim, and the doors split open to reveal Karellen coming forward to the dais. He greets the reporters pleasantly, joking that it must be a slow news day to have so many of them present. They respond that this is something that they hope he will rectify.
Karellen announces that there has been a stowaway on board a cargo ship that just recently left Earth. He does not give any details of how this person got on board the ship. He assures the human beings before him that it will not be allowed to happen again. One of the reporters, Golde, asks if the stowaway will be returned to Earth, but Karellen says that this decision is out of his jurisdiction, but he expects the person will be returned on the next ship.
Karellen addresses the frequent complaint of some of the younger inhabitants of Earth that journeying into outer space has been closed to them. He says that the Overlords have a purpose in this. To explain, he asks what would happen if a Stone-Age man were to be transported to a modern city. A reporter protests, saying that human beings now have some understanding of science, so they would be able to accept the advanced life on the Overlords’ planet. Karellen doubts this. He asks what a Victorian engineer would do if he were to examine a television set or computer. The gulf between the technologies of Earth and the Overlords’ planet is so great that it could be lethal. He shows them an image of the vastness of the Universe. He says that there are hundreds of millions of suns in the galaxy, many with planets around them.
Karellen tells the reporters gathered before him that eventually the aliens will leave, letting human beings rule their planet that they were on the verge of destroying when the space ships arrived. They may even expand to other places in the solar system. He tells them, however, that the stars are not for Man. In the silence that follows, Karellen knows that he alone in the room is aware that the Golden Age of Earth is rapidly coming to a close.