Chapter 2 Summary
Rikki Stormgren, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, waits for the arrival of Alexander Wainwright, the head of the Freedom League. Wainwright and his followers object to the actions taken by the Overlords, the alien beings who had arrived in the spaceships five years previously. Stormgren points out that the Overlords have brought peace, prosperity, and contentment to Earth since their arrival. Wainwright objects that these things have been bought at the price of their liberty. Only Stormgren has ever had direct contact with Karellen, the Supervisor of the Overlords in charge on the maintenance of Earth, and even he has never actually seen the alien face to face. Stormgren sees Wainwright’s objections as having a religious basis. Wainwright, as a former clergyman, believes that only God can guide human beings, giving them the freedom to control their own lives, unlike the Overlords.
When they first arrived, the Overlords floated silently over the Earth’s major cities. They seemed to be observing the reactions of the human beings below. On the sixth day, Karellen’s voice came over every radio frequency on the planet, speaking in perfect English. The Overlords took over all international affairs. Each nation was allowed some measure of local control, but otherwise all decisions were made by the aliens. One nation fired a nuclear missile at one of the ships, but the missile evaporated. The Republic of South Africa refused to give up its policy of discrimination against its white minority. In response, the Overlords cause the light of the sun to disappear over South Africa for thirty minutes. The government immediately implemented full civil rights to all of its peoples. Though peace reigns for the next five years, everyone has a sense of expectancy, constantly looking over their shoulders for what the Overlords would do next.
Stormgren is taken up to Karellen’s ship by a silver bubble. He does not see Karellen, only hears his voice. He tells the alien that there is increasing dissatisfaction in the Overlords’ continued secrecy as to their physical appearance. Karellen asks about Stormgren’s meeting with Wainwright. The Overlords knows that Wainwright’s Freedom League fears how much the aliens know about the truth or untruth about the world’s religions.
Karellen agrees to ask his superiors about his revealing his physical appearance. In the meantime, the people of Earth see little change in their daily lives beyond the slowly rising standard of living. The Overlords make no interference or favoritism as to the type of Earth’s governments it prefers. It is assumed that they will introduce their own system when they wish to do so.