This is an siginal if not entirely successful fable of the conditions prevailing on our earth, seen by some intelligent inhabitant of space. It is in the form of a report on various phases of human activity, science, philosophy, technology, politics, art all are with detachment and an ironical sense of himself. best known for his series, originally wrote this in 1958 and it now appears in an able translation. The theme, as well as the tone, is expressed in the concluding paragraph: ""in its present state, the Earth, by the existence of man and his works occupies an extremely advanced position. It has gone farther in certain directions than other entities where beings apparently more richly endowed have developed. But the way it has taken unfortunately requires, if it is to avert a catastrophic conclusion, those virtues of collective organization with which humanity has always appeared to be poorly endowed"". In four years, the world has moved so fast toward the ""catastrophic conclusion"" he fears that this charmingly coy little essay may hardly seem the right corrective. In any case, a special audience.