"Encounter in the Dawn" (also known as "Expedition to Earth") is a short story by English writer Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1953 in the magazine Amazing Stories. It was originally collected in the anthology Expedition to Earth, and, in one edition of the book, is titled "Expedition to Earth". In a later collection the title "Encounter at Dawn" is used. The story was later restyled and used as the basis for the first section of Clarke's 1968 novel 2001 A Space Odyssey.
In Clarke's 1972 book The Lost Worlds of 2001, the author noted:
An editor at Ballantine Books gave it the ingenious title "Expedition to Earth" when it was published in the book of that name, but I prefer "Encounter in the Dawn." However, when Harcourt, Brace and World brought out my own selection of favourites, The Nine Billion Names of God, it was mysteriously changed to "Encounter at Dawn."
A star ship with three occupants lands on a planet, much like their own, some 100,000 light years away, on the rim of the Milky Way. On the planet they encounter a race of bipedals much like themselves but on a much lower technological level. We learn that in the future this area will be called Babylon. All through the story there are no definite clues whether the visitors or the locals are the "real" humans. As they depart, a local muses on being the only one who had met the gods.