05
Feb

Meat?

I submit the following. For all I know, it may have originated in
rec.humor.funny, but I dont know. This was sent to me by a friend.
Apparently it has an unknown author.

[Note – Michael subsequently reported that the author is Terry Bisson, it
originally appeared in OMNI Magazine, it was nominated for a Nebula,
and it is reprinted here by permission of Mr. Bisson. My thanks
to Michael and Terry – ed.]

Imagine if you will… the leader of the fifth invader force speaking to
the commander in chief…

Theyre made out of meat.

Meat?

Meat. Theyre made out of meat.

Meat?

Theres no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of
the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way
through. Theyre completely meat.

Thats impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the
stars.

They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals dont come from them.
The signals come from machines.

So who made the machines? Thats who we want to contact.

They made the machines. Thats what Im trying to tell you. Meat made
the machines.

Thats ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? Youre asking me to
believe in sentient meat.

Im not asking you, Im telling you. These creatures are the only
sentient race in the sector and theyre made out of meat.

Maybe theyre like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence
that goes through a meat stage.

Nope. Theyre born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several
of their life spans, which didnt take too long. Do you have any idea
the life span of meat?

Spare me. Okay, maybe theyre only part meat. You know, like the
Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.

Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the
Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. Theyre meat all the way
through.

No brain?

Oh, there is a brain all right. Its just that the brain is made out of
meat!

So… what does the thinking?

Youre not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The
meat.

Thinking meat! Youre asking me to believe in thinking meat!

Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The
meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?

Omigod. Youre serious then. Theyre made out of meat.

Finally, Yes. They are indeed made out meat. And theyve been trying to
get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.

So what does the meat have in mind?

First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the
universe, contact other sentients, swap ideas and information. The
usual.

Were supposed to talk to meat?

Thats the idea. Thats the message theyre sending out by radio.
Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home? That sort of thing.

They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?

Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat.

I thought you just told me they used radio.

They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know
how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping
their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through
their meat.

Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you
advise?

Officially or unofficially?

Both.

Officially, we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all
sentient races or multibeings in the quadrant, without prejudice, fear,
or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget
the whole thing.

I was hoping you would say that.

It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact
with meat?

I agree one hundred percent. Whats there to say? Hello, meat. Hows
it going? But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with
here?

Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers,
but they cant live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C
space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility
of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact.

So we just pretend theres no one home in the universe.

Thats it.

Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones
who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you have probed? Youre sure
they wont remember?

Theyll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads
and smoothed out their meat so that were just a dream to them.

A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meats
dream.

And we can mark this sector unoccupied.

Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others?
Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?

Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a
class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago,
wants to be friendly again.

They always come around.

And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the universe
would be if one were all alone.

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