They’re made out of meat

I read this short story by Terry Bisson when it was first published in Omni. It’s possibly the greatest scifi short story ever written. A teaser:

“They’re made out of meat.”

“Meat?”

“Meat. They’re made out of meat.”

“Meat?”

“There’s no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.”

“That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?”

“They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”

“So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.”

“They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”

“That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”

It gets better. Much better. The phrase “singing meat” is used. Bisson has made the full text of the story available on his website and if you haven’t read it before, now’s the time. Seriously. NOW is the time. Go on. Go.

What, still not convinced it’s worth your click? One more excerpt, then: Continue reading “They’re made out of meat”

interview with Greg Bear

this is a pretty wide-ranging interview, worth reading in full. But one thing that leaped out at me was this Q&A, because not many people are aware of Bear’s work in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes.

Aberrant Dreams: You are also one of the few writers that come to mind, having written in both the Star Trek and the Star Wars universes. At every science fiction convention, there is always a panel about Star Wars verses Star Trek. If you found yourself on that panel, for which side would you bat?

Greg Bear: Well, there wouldn’t have been a Star Wars without a Star Trek. I’m sure even George Lucas would admit that. If you go back to the lineage of interstellar travel and space opera, you’ll find two sides of the equation.

I think Star Trek adheres to the more seriously extrapolated side, despite some of the sillier episodes. It was more of a universe you could imagine yourself living in with fewer fantasy elements.

Star Wars came along and mixes in so many different elements. There are pulp films, samurai movies, Arthurian legend, and science fiction, and it’s all planted in a thoroughly convincing science fiction designed universe. It was a flavor that no one had quite seen before, and it was also done with tremendous conviction and love. At that time, Star Wars became a kind of crossover bridge for science fiction and fantasy. I think is still is to this day, while Star Trek and science fiction are more closely aligned. Its universe is a little more convincing.

Ultimately, it depends on your feeling of the moment. If you want rip-roaring action and that sort of thing, I still like Star Wars. I’ve been a Star Wars fan ever since 1977. I don’t follow all of the novels and all of the off-shoots—it would take a lifetime at this point. I certainly haven’t done that with the Star Trek novels, either, and I’m not even that familiar with the more recent Star Trek series.

He also discusses transhumanism and his forthcoming book about the middle east and the west.

Gedo Senki: Legend of Earthsea

Studio Ghibli is producing an anime version of Ursula K. LeGuin’s classic science fiction series, The Legend of Earthsea. It is being directed by Moro Miyazaki, son of the legendary Hayao.

For a fan of science fiction alone, this would be incredibly exciting news. As a fledgling otaku my anticipation can now extend along the anime axis as well! Of course there is no guarantee that the junior Miyazaki is as talented as the father, nor is there any guarantee that a piece of literature will survive the transition to film. Bicentennial Man was a real stab in the heart for Asimov purists, and I’ve ranted on the H2G2 movie before. But there are successes – witness the glory that was Blade Runner (an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). I think that the anime format suits the subject matter far better than live-action and have high hopes indeed.

Most of those high hopes being fed by what I’ve already seen of the film, of course. You can view the trailer as a Flash movie at Ghibli.net or at YouTube.

There’s also a production blog (translated by Nausicaa.net).