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"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Fixed Star Advertising  
  In which the positions of the fixed stars are changed to form advertising.  

Not what you expect from the night sky.

Then having denied himself the supreme pleasure long enough, he turned his eyes up to the silent sky, and there it was. The four hundred and sixty-eight brightest stars spelling out:

USE
SNIVELY'S
SOAP

For just a second did his satisfaction last. Then his face began to turn apoplectic purple.

“My heavens!” said Mr. Sniveley. “It’s spelled wrong!”

OF THE many explanations offered by all and sundry who professed some physical and astronomical knowledge, none was more lucid—or closer to the actual truth— than that put forward by Wendell Mehan, president emeritus of the New York Astronomical Society.

“Obviously, the phenomenon is a trick of refraction,” said Dr. Mehan. “It is manifestly impossible for any force contrived by man to move a star. The stars, therefore, still occupy their old places in the firmament.

“I suggest that Sniveley must have contrived a method of refracting the light of the stars, somewhere in or just above the atmospheric layer of earth, so that they appear to have changed their position...

“This effect cannot possibly be permanent —more permanent, that is, than the wave projector which causes it. Sooner or later, Sniveley’s machine will be found and shut off, or will break down or wear out of its own volition. Undoubtedly it includes vacuum tubes, which will some day blow out, as do the tubes in our radios..."

The excellence of Mr. Mehan’s analysis was shown, two months and eight days later, when the Boston Electric Co. shut off, for non-payment of bills, service to a house sit¬ uated at 901 West Rogers Street, ten blocks from the Sniveley mansion. At the instant of the shut-off, excited reports from the night side of Earth brought the news that the stars had flashed back into their former positions, instantaneously.

In the attic was found a complicated network of four hundred and sixty-eight radio-type antennae, each antenna of different length and running in a different direction. The machine to which they were connected was not larger, strangely, than the average ham’s radio projector, nor did it draw appreciably more current, according to the electric company’s record.

Technovelgy from Pi in the Sky, by Frederic Brown.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1945
Additional resources -

Compare to the Orbiting Casino Advertising Sign from One Against The Legion, by Jack Williamson, published by Astounding in 1939.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Pi in the Sky
  More Ideas and Technology by Frederic Brown
  Tech news articles related to Pi in the Sky
  Tech news articles related to works by Frederic Brown

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