2018-10-08 01:19:36 UTC
This was a short story I read about forty years ago, but it was in an anthology of stories from the late 1800s to early 1900s.
A nation of that time period (I think it was England) was having economic difficulties. A good war is a tried-and-true method of jump-starting the economy, via military spending. But there is no wars currently in the offing.
Some sleazy government official has the bright idea of making a hoax about an imaginary war, to justify the military spending. The hoax is that the Moon is inhabited, and they have declared war on the Earth. Oh noes! We will have to start massive military spending to defend our nation against those dastardly Moon men!
The public falls for the hoax, the spending is approved, and that nation's economy improves. However, the hoax has to be maintained or everything comes crashing down. The hoax gets a life of its own.
To help maintain the hoax, the government actually makes some kind of rocket or huge cannon or something that can actually hit the Moon. They proceed to launch bombs at the lifeless surface of the Moon, to provide evidence of the war effort.
But the joke is on them. As it turns out the Moon *is* inhabited. And the inhabitants are hopping mad at this unprovoked attack from the Earth.
The story ends with the government aghast at their nation being devastated by death rays coming from the Moon.
Does this ring a bell with anybody?
Thank you for your time.