Review: MAXO Signals: A New And Unfortunate Solution to the Fermi Paradox

By on 11:46 PM

MAXO Signals: A New And Unfortunate Solution to the Fermi Paradox. Charles Stross, 2005. Short Story

If you will help me, [please] transmit the [symbol: meta-signifier: MAXO header defining communication protocols] for your [empire/civilization/polity]. I will by return of signal send you the [symbol: process][symbol: data] to install on your [empire/civilization/polity] to participate in this scheme. You will then construct [symbol: inferred, interstellar transmitter?] to assist in acquiring [ownership signifier] of [compound symbol: inferred, bank account of absent galactic emperor].

The quote and this poster should give you a pretty good idea of the premise.


Charles Stross is one of the most prolific writers of hard science fiction in the modern era with dozens of award winning works to his name. Stross is also quite fond of posting his works online for free, always a plus for us readers who prefer to read a few of the author's pieces before purchasing more of their work.

MAXO Signals was written and published in Nature magazine in 2005. The story itself sits at just about 800 words making it remarkably short. In fact, Stross once complained the reason for the story's short length was because Nature mandated the piece must fit on one page, a tough challenge for any writer. Thankfully, Stross overcame this dilemma and presented a very short, very humorous take on how a modern problem might appear in the future.


Due to the length constraints facing Stross, the story is incredibly simple. Basically, the story is told through a memo to sent to an authority figure. The memo, details several messages that were received, the methods used to decode them, the basic linguistic info about the messages. Attached to the memo is one of the messages that has been nearly entirely decoded, along with a additional memo that the message not be responded to.

That's it. The story is incredibly short and really fairly simple. However, it's always nice to see a new take on a solution to Fermi's Paradox and this idea is certainly a fun one.

Who Should Read This Story 

MAXO Signals is worth a read if you're:
Looking for a quick sci-fi read
A fan of Charles Stross
Looking for a free read
Interested in Fermi's Paradox solutions

Final Verdict

Altogether MAXO Signals isn't going to win any awards for best sci-fi story. It will however, deliver an interesting, slightly tongue-in-cheek ride that will certainly cause anybody who's had a full inbox from spam to nod their head  whispering, "I can see that happening." Even if you aren't a huge fan of short stories, that fact that it's free certainly makes it more appealing. If you're looking for it for free you can check out a PDF of Nature Magizine here. Or, if you feels like buying this and several other great short stories - including several I've reviewedclick here

Also, remember to leave a comment after you read the story. Tell us what you think about the idea of intergalactic spam. Will spam always exist? Will it make the transition to intergalactic levels?

Rusty is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and gets up to all kinds of shenanigans planning for any and all kinds of apocalypse when he's not busy reading, writing, or yo-yoing. Keep up with him and Rachel on Facebook and Twitter to get cool, space related news or click here to read more of his thoughts on the terror of alien invasion novels.

About Syed Faizan Ali

Faizan is a 17 year old young guy who is blessed with the art of Blogging,He love to Blog day in and day out,He is a Website Designer and a Certified Graphics Designer.


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