The Star Ducks By Bill Brown
The Star Ducks by Bill Brown is a short story which falls in the category of science fiction (scifi). The writer has exploited the scientific concept of extraterrestrials (ETs) popularly known as aliens. Aliens are supposed to be special creatures from outer space that have been reported to visit our planet occasionally. The enthusiastic newspaper reporter, Ward Rafferty wants to have a firsthand proof of the aliens for a sensational story, but for being ill-equipped, he is left disappointed at the end.
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Ward Rafferty worked for a well-known newspaper, The Times. He received a mysterious phone call about an air crash near the farm of the Alsop family. However on reaching the spot, he was shocked to find that nothing of the sort had happened as there was no ambulance to carry the dead or the injured and there was no curious crowd of onlookers. However, on enquiring from Mr. and Mrs. Alsop, he learnt that some wingless and globular unidentified flying object (UFO), which the Alsops described as a contraption, had actually landed there and was then stationed in the barn behind the Alsop house.
The contraption belonged to a strange looking couple of aliens from some other planet. They had earlier visited the Alsops about six years before and had exchanged their star-shaped eggs called the star ducks with normal eggs provided by the Alsops. However, the eggs rotted on the way and so the Aliens had to turn back for a fresh supply from the Alsops.
Rafferty also learnt from the Alsops that the aliens were named Men-Who-Bent-Iron and they communicated by making only pictures on their screens after bending their antennae in the direction of the person who wanted to communicate with them. Initially Rafferty was doubtful about the aliens and could not believe in them. But once the folks turned their antennae towards him, he went through a strange and painful experience to realize that the aliens were not a fraud. Rafferty felt excited and wanted a solid proof for this sensational story that he intended to publish for his newspaper. But unfortunately, he did not have a phone or a camera to do the job and the aliens in no time flew off and vanished.
Rafferty then hoped to get some proof from the Alsops but they disappointed him too by informing him that the star ducks brought by the aliens were hatched by them under a hen that raised six legged-star shaped ducks which resembled somewhat to a hippopotamus and something like a swallow. The Alsops had eaten the ducks on the Thanksgiving festival and had even fed their bones to a dog that had died a long time before.
Rafferty felt crushed. It was already dark in the night and he decided to leave the spot. While he was leaving, Mr. Alsop shouted that he had found their camera for Rafferty. But it was of no use then as the most sensational story had already vanished into space.
Theme / Message
The story is based on the theme that scientific fiction can be used to create an interesting story. At the same time it depicts the simplicity of the village folks like the Alsops as they could not understand or make out anything about the aliens. The story also highlights the blunder committed by Rafferty who was not well-equipped for his job, in spite of being a professional and a thoroughly knowledgeable reporter.
The central character of the Story is Ward Rafferty, The Times reporter, though Mr. & Mrs. Alsop also play vital roles. The Alsop couple is simplistic village folks having no exposure to scientific knowledge. Still they prove themselves to be intelligent people with a lot of common sense.
On the other hand, Rafferty is a professional reporter who carefully and meticulously notices every detail when he reaches the Alsop farm. He is a careful and alert reporter who knows his job very well. He is sensitive to the details and feels proud for being the top reporter of The Times. He does not trust blindly as he eyes the aliens with suspicion. He believes them to be real after he goes through a strange experience with them. In this regard he is guarded but patient. His only flaw is that he is not well-equipped with a phone or a camera to perform his professional duties. Had he been fully equipped, he would have got some solid proof about the aliens and thus created a sensation in the whole world and become an overnight star.
The title of the Story derives its name from the star-shaped eggs brought by the aliens for the Alsops in exchange. The star ducks on hatching produced the six-legged ducks that resembled somewhat to the hippopotamus and the swallow.