There were dozens of replies along the lines of:
"I heard humans can survive losing a limb! Or even multiple limbs!"
"Their strength and tolerance for gravity far exceeds our own!"
"When one of their organs fails they can just swap it out with another compatible human that's died recently!"
It's pretty funny to imagine, and it's a perspective not often seen.
- "Humans have such good self-control! They can resist cannibalism and murder so easily!"
- "Humans live for more than two years!"
- "Humans have time to learn more than a thousand words!"
- "But when you get right down to it, humans are remarkably dumb and unmotivated, compared to us."
…and most importantly:
- "Hey, can we get some life extension technology? If we lived longer, we could totally have an engineering degree by age 6."
Vernor Vinge, "Original Sin."
Isn't that how the bushman in The Gods must be Crazy hunted his prey?
Though it's counterintuitive, humans really do have more endurance than most large mammals.
Here's a wikipedia on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting
I think that's a major factor in endurance hunting - we can replenish hydration lost by sweat whereas others cannot.
> Although sweating is found in a wide variety of mammals, relatively few, such as humans and horses, produce large amounts of sweat in order to cool down.
We don't beat them out necessarily because we can replenish more, but because we are much more efficient at cooling ourselves. Obviously water and tools helped us, but imagine trying to compete in a 5k wearing a rubber suit--you wouldn't come close to competing with those humans you're up against.
I would like to know if these races allow for rehydration for both species, if humans run barefeet and if horses run with no cargo/horseshoes.
"If you breach their outer surface, an aqueous solution squirts out. On top of that, the weather on their homeworld regularly involves pure water falling from the sky. They live on the surface anyway."
"They progressed from tool use to apex species in only about 100000 generations. They went from writing to spaceflight in less than 500. They are about to create artificial intelligences based upon their own."
"They are covered and filled with some form of microscopic biological material that completely overwhelms any compatible surface in a matter of days. Attempts to eradicate it result in rapid adaptation."
"They have some form of mental superpower that allows them to defy logic and reason. All of their recent technology has resulted from generating seemingly random propositions and then gathering the evidence necessary to prove those false, rather than generating only propositions that conform to existing evidence."
The Damned, by Alan Dean Foster, is a great series dedicated to this premise. At first, I thought you were quoting directly from one of the novels.
Fun read for sure and a good example of how a scifi story can be so simple but still have a lot to it.
Sorry if this is pointless, I just looked it up because I was wondering if there was some deep metaphor or something I was missing.
The short-film adaptation of this was very well done. The David Lynch-influenced directing style worked well.
Of course, as with most art, opinions and interpretations will vary.
To give a silly analogy, imagine we visit the world of the Smurfs together. We both paint ourselves blue to fit in, but then you tell me: "they're made out of cake frosting". I'm going to give you quite a strange look when you say that, regardless of the fact that I'm painted blue.
The idea that they might not just be wrong, but also in serious denial, is a cute twist.
Have you really never encountered an intelligent lifeform made entirely of meat who insists, often furiously, that an intelligent lifeform made entirely of meat is impossible? Because they're not exactly an endangered species around here.
Dead Centre - http://www.garthmarenghi.com/books/deadcentre.htm - "This near-legendary collection of short stories includes 'The Streaming Face' (about a boy whose face is turned into a river by a magical elk because he spat on a gnome)"
Juggers - http://www.garthmarenghi.com/books/juggers.htm -
"I wanted to write a book about the triumph of the female spirit over a gigantic lorry. Of course, looking back, I realise the truck actually represents AIDS.'"
He often wrote stuff with an astronaut from the future, who meets other civilisations and often they are a little bit like the world now. So this guy goes there and is like "how crazy those aliens are, doing this and that" and the reader feels is like "well... he is totally right but that's how it's here in real life right now!!"
An archaeologist in the year 4022 walking through the ancient land of "Usa" stumbles across an ancient U-shaped structure with dozens of individual or double-sized tombs. He uses these to piece together the burial customs of that long-lost civilization of Yanks and deduce the meanings and usage of items such as the ceremonial Sacred Urn - found in the Inner Chamber - and the Great Altar towards which the body on the Ceremonial Platform was clearly intended to face in the afterlife (holding the Sacred Communicator in its right hand).
That seems to imply that they're familiar with non-sentient meat, but what would that be? And if those aliens are so different from us they probably don't have the same concept of food as we have, so it wouldn't make a lot of sense to single out "meat" at all. The story works better for me if I replace "meat" with, say, "carbon blob" or something like that. I still the humour still works out and it's a less culturally-loaded phrase.
Indeed, as you've noticed, their revulsion appears to be the thing which prevents them from getting the picture. It's not as if they haven't seen meat. They've even seen intelligent creatures that are almost entirely meat. That's all part of the joke. If these aliens could get past their squick they'd be clever enough to understand squishy brains, but they can't.
"Kalgash is an alien world and it is not our intention to have you think that it is identical to Earth, even though we depict its people as speaking a language that you can understand, and using terms that are familiar to you. Those words should be understood as mere equivalents of alien terms--that is, a conventional set of equivalents of the same sort that a writer of novels uses when he has foreign characters speaking with each other in their own language but nevertheless transcribes their words in the language of the reader. So when the people of Kalgash speak of 'miles,' or 'hands,' or 'cars,' or 'computers,' they mean their own units of distance, their own grasping-organs, their own ground-transportation devices, their own invormation-processing machines, etc. The computers used on Kalgash are not necessarily compatible with the ones used in New York or London or Stockholm, and the 'mile' that we use in this book is not necessarily the American unit of 5,280 feet. But it seemed simpler and more desirable to use these familiar terms in describing events on this wholly alien world than it would have been to invent a long series of wholly Kalgashian terms.
In other words, we could have told you that one of our characters paused to strap on his quonglishes before setting out on a walk of seven vorks along the main gleebish of his native znoob, and everything might have seemed ever so much more thoroughly alien. But it would also have been ever so much more difficult to make sense out of what we were saying, and that did not seem useful."
Because that should definitely be an actual genre.
The book started with Mr. Weir planning a series of mars missions, thinking about possible emergencies and what equipment should be sent to handle those contingencies. Eventually this turned into a story.
It's not really like the egg at all, but I enjoyed it a lot.
 Readability link: https://www.readability.com/articles/waawsj9b
An excellent podcast/radio adaptation, along with an interview with Terry Bisson
If meat thinking beings were so unheard of, you'd think they'd be all over us, trying to get to know what makes us tick, and why not, talking to us.
Like if we'd find a talking dog.
Maybe a more logical conclusion would be if they'd go: "Oh, it's just another meat civilisation. Just let them wander around in the dark like all the others, there's no chance they'll ever find anyone". Not as funny, but more logical :D
This is a tangent, but Peter Watts's brilliant novel Blindsight deals with this issue (among many others). Describing how would unfortunately ruin a key plot point.
He uploaded the whole novel to his website: http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm but in my view it's more than worth getting in paper: http://www.amazon.com/Blindsight-Peter-Watts/dp/0765319640 .
It is a brilliant, brilliant piece of work. Certainly, the most 'alien' lifeform description I've ever seen. Even though he draws from his background a bit, so it still bears some superficial similarity to earth lifeforms.
still, you'd expect any kind of intelligent being to be interested in accumulating more knowledge
I know I know, I'm projecting
Meat is a term used to denote food, not a life form type.
So having a problem with what an English term used in a story because it doesn't have quite the kind of meaning you think aliens would use seems rather inconsistent.
Perhaps their far back robot ancestors made by an ancient "meat" civilization, but them having forgotten all of that after millions of years...
>Meat is a term used to denote food, not a life form type.
Actually meat just means meat. It's not just a word for a food, it's a specific kind of organic "substance".
Unless it refers to food, you'd usually see the word "flesh" instead of "meat". Or, depending on how specific you were being "muscle tissue", or "fatty tissue".
The ship Grey Area, aka Meatfucker, from Ian Banks books has already been mentioned and the term meat is often used by the A.I. ships.
Meatspace is commonly used as an antonym to cyberspace and in Gibson's neuromancer trilogy, Molly used to be a meat-puppet and Case feels trapped in the meat.
You may not like this usage, but it has been well established for decades now.
After all - a talking dog is really just talking meat.
If an alien race looked at us the way we look at dolphins, whales, or even primates -- we'd be damn lucky if they simply turned around and went home.
*edit: forgot "stop"
they're not trying to reach us and learn from us, and "swap ideas", as far as we know
and yet we still try to understand them and talk to them
if a dolphin was to one day utter: "hey guys, let's chat. let me tell you about my world, and you tell me about yours" - I think it would be all over the news, not glossed by like "pff.. stupid animal trying to think"
For certain terrifyingly-narrow definitions of "we".
Compare the number of researchers puzzling over sea mammal communication to the number of fishermen intentionally and unintentionally slaughtering them.
It would be as if aliens arrived and realized that Humans were sentient but hadn't yet puzzled out how to truly communicate with us. So they abduct a few of us and task a handful of them with trying to work it out.
In the meantime, the rest of them discover they have a taste for corn. So they dredge half of Iowa, shrugging their shoulders at the incidental death and destruction of any number of farms, communities and small towns. Then they dump the "by-catch" and leave.
Not to mention the havoc that would wreck on our economy and food supply and how many might starve in addition to those who would die directly. Not to mention the long-term damage their unsustainable harvest methods would wreck and the implications that would have on our own ability to survive. Not to mention any research stations that may or may not be causing massive cases of dementia/die-off of any number of humans.
The next year, when even more alien harvest ships return to do it all again, how much comfort are you going to find in the notion that the handful of them -- however earnestly -- are trying to learn how to communicate with us?
So, in this scenario, pretend we've just run into Sentient Race 36,000. But, this time, instead of being the usual flora and fauna and machine intelligence, it's just... poo.
I can see some jaded explorers being willing to give them a pass, and, well, leave the poo alone.
Other people claim to hear voices in the wind telling them to do stuff. We lock them up because we think they are insane and a threat to us.
I imagine "Meat" to be a very human concept, strictly related to food, and to our nature as carnivores.
I can´t picture non carbon-based lifeforms talking about humans as "meat".
The whole concept of "meat" would be completely, well, alien to them.
The Hunters - Walt Sheldon
Impostor - Philip K. Dick
All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein (http://faculty.uca.edu/rnovy/Heinlein--All%20you%20zombies.h...)
The arrogance of the meat-species, eh! They could be cells of phosphorescent algae, communicating by radioactive emission, or collections of electrical charge in balls of substrate. Who the Hell knows.
Oh and I don't answer questions. Do you think I'm here to do your bidding or something?
Personally, I wasn't convinced but I liked the approach.
Edit: I don't think this was the story I was looking for, but there is "Prince Ferrix and the Princess Crystal," contrasting robots and the general disgusting nature of squishy non-robots.
One of themes explored in science fiction often is the possibility of we coming in contact with life forms so different we wouldn't comprehend the very nature of it.
If all the singularity, AI stuff ever comes true. Some day it will hardly make sense for any of us to even live inside a biological body.
It's a lovely story, but everything Terry has done is worth reading.
The reality is that we don't know how minds really work and we don't have thinking machines. The belief that the limited knowledge about brain chemistry "explains" consciousness is similar to the belief that knowing how semiconductors work "explains" hardware and software engineering.
Down-votes on an opinion without any explanation in reply simply prove my point. This is a hive-mind belief and opposing world views are not tolerated.
Do we know much about dark matter yet? Could it travel faster than light, or is it bound by the same rules as normal matter?
Dark matter, if it is matter (and there are good but not totally confirmed reasons to think it is) is just that...matter. It would really be not that special at all, except that it doesn't interact electromagnetically, but this doesn't particularly have deep implications - we already know about particles like that, neutrinos, but they happen to be lighter than the ones that would make up dark matter.
We're nowhere near it, but clearly at the stage of: we know that we know next to nothing about it. Just have a look at the discussion around the Alcubierre Drive and you'll get the feeling that it is pie-in-the-sky science.
So, I'd wager it's not a "very probably no". It's a "we have no clue".
This potentially raises paradoxes etc, and may also be impossible, but it doesn't break the barrier in the above sense.
A university professor of mine who was (perhaps still is) involved directly in international scientific efforts to examine the expansion of the universe once explained the speed of expansion of the universe to me in a way that made perfect sense.
Unfortunately I can't remember the precise details but the concept relates to a change in scale of the distance between bodies.
My best approximation is this: the measurable distance between two points can increase without either point moving if the nature of what is between the points changes.
You can pseudo-simulate the concept as follows:
1. Open Google maps at a reasonable "normal" scale
2. Affix two dots to your screen and take a guess as to the distance between them as if the dots were actually on the map
3. Zoom out the map quickly as far as it will go
4. Guess again the distance between the dots
The ground distance between the dots increases dramatically. One could argue that the dots moved apart at a great speed, possibly greater than the speed of light if the change in distance is sufficient.
Clearly we know that the dots did not move. The scale of what was between them moved.
During the initial stages of the universe things behaved very oddly.
May be somewhere in the universe, or within the black hole, space is malleable enough to allow faster than light travel. It's just a concept, but a very interesting one.
Perhaps someone can point me to a full description of this theory.
I'm guessing the author used 'C space' as a way of describing '3 dimensional' (ie a = 1, b = 2, c = 3). So 'C space beings' would be limited to light speed travel (unless we build meat containers that could manipulate or penetrate 'D space')
In any case, there's already enough literature on this subject to last you a life time so if you have any question then it's an interesting subject to read. And by "literature" I don't mean "Star Trek" (though their "Warp Drives" are based on a similar premise or warping 3 dimensional space - despite obviously being a work of fiction)
I also liked the story on The Truth about the beings who discovered the Voyager 1 record (http://thetruthpodcast.com/Story/Entries/2014/5/14_Voyager_F...). Although the 'aliens' in that story were far too human and contemporary to take seriously, it worked as a great examination of how our civilization would react to a similar discovery. Although, like many Truth episodes, the light improv style works only well enough for it to be enjoyable. I much prefer their scripted and adapted stories.
I'm wondering if we can fix that one.
"Obviously, I. Asimov was a robot."
- I. Doo Notremember
The thing about organic life is that it goes though millions of trials and errors before something survives long enough to have memory and inheritance.
I wish there was a HN for short stories.