Sunday, May 28, 2017
Some years ago a science fiction novel I read described two different groups of humans as part of the overall story. The first group, ur-humans, were descendants of people who had been brought from Earth long ago who had been mentored by a civilization of inter-galactic beings. The second group, r-humans were more like us. They had struggled their way to a technologic society that had eventually bootstrapped its way into space. I no longer remember the name of the book, and that aspect was just a small part of a larger overall tale, but I rather liked the idea that there were humans who felt they were an organic part of a greater civilization.
Science fiction done well allows us to see our behaviour in perspective. I found a blog whose author wrote 365 very short science fiction stories over the course of 365 days. Here's one of them:
The priest’s words echoed through St. Peter’s soaring arches, resounding off acres of inlaid marble and porphyry. The murmur of tourists gawking and taking pictures stopped. Heads turned.
The priest stood before Michelangelo’s Pièta, hair the colour of clouds, cassock dark as a storm. A trio of Shivers had just entered the basilica and stood, clicking, their many limbs shifting nervously.
This was in the early days, when seeing an alien walking around was still rare. One of them inclined its glossy head. “We have come to admire the treasures of this place,” it said.
The priest’s eyes flashed with a dark light. “The house of God is not open to demons,” he said. “This place is for the baptized.”
The aliens clicked animatedly to each other. At length they turned to the priest together and bowed, forelegs splaying across the marble floor. “Then baptize us, father,” said the leader.
The priest blinked. “You … You wish to be baptized?” he said.
The lead Shiver nodded.
The priest’s gaze wandered over the aliens: many-legged, restlessly moving under their glossy black carapaces. He remembered the vast ships they had shown on TV, cloud-streaked, shadowing cities.
He breathed out, slowly.
“So you wish to be baptized,” he said. “His Holiness will want to hear of this … Follow me, children.”
The Shivers scurried after him. “Praise be to Allah!” they shouted.
The priest spun on them. “What!?” he said.
“Sorry,” said the lead Shiver. “Is there a difference?”
Article of the week: Manchester, or Innocence Long Lost
by Raul Ilargi Meijer