@ 27.105 MHz: Stellarings; Experiment In Controlled Eradication

Unfortunate, when an experiment goes wrong,
but even then our students needed to know
the ethics by which to craft their practical response.
Ages ago, we had thoroughly seeded the
planetary terrarium, and the life there was thriving.
But a virus mutated in that vulnerable environment,
and began to assert its virulent dominance, world-wide.
(The students referred to this as the V*2,D---

Virulent Viral Dominance---
when writing their periodic observer reports.)
But even this was what we call a teaching moment,
an opportunity for students to learn while observing.
And so we, the Lab Assistants---administrators
and cultivators of the planetary terrarium---
introduced, there, a far more contagious infection,
easily opportunistic and excessively lethal---
(we had engineered it exactly for that)---
to which the V*2,D. was constitutionally vulnerable,
without shield of natural or acquired immunity.
The infection completely eradicated the V*2,D
terminating it with exponential rapidity;
and then, itself mutating almost consciously
(but that would be the most absurd science fiction),
it eradicated all other life from the terrarium's
surfaces and even its water pockets.
But even this unexpected development gave rise
to many well expressed papers from the students,
and some of the conclusions they derived
from various observations and calculations
were praised by several of our Senior Scientists.
Every group, however, has at least one radical:
in this case, a poet from some backworld in the
vicinity of Ursus Major, a minor
acquisition at best. And this poet,
writing a paper that was, otherwise, brilliant,
refused to refer to the offending virus as V*2,D;
but insisted (and refused to withdraw the proposal)
that we should designate that species by the sounds
(meaningless in our language, but recorded and preserved
in the Archives of the Trivial): Humanity.




Author's Notes/Comments: 

The conclusion was inspired by the ending of James Tiptree, Jr's, seminal novela, Houston, Houston, Do You Read?

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patriciajj's picture

I was hooked immediately by

I was hooked immediately by "when an experiment goes wrong . . ." That pops the lid off endless possibilities, but I never expected this! What a jaw-dropping twist!


I was certainly swept up in the body of the story: here's this cold, methodical narrator reporting in a detached way about horrific annihilation caused by the ultimate parasitic virus, which was certainly intriguing in itself, but then, like fireworks out of thin air, I'm slapped with a revelation that is in the tradition of great scfi: a moral, cautionary message packaged in one very satisfying surprise. 


I tried my hand at scifi years ago, so I know how difficult it is to be original and engaging while adhering to a coherent formula, but you pulled it off. Your rare talent for story-crafting tells me you could write novels, short stories or scripts that rival the best of what's out there. 


Congratulations on this. 

Starward's picture

I am so grateful for this

I am so grateful for this comment, although just saying thank you seems a little shallow compared to the words of your comment, which encourage me to continue with more of these ideas I have in my notes.  Tiptree was a master of twist, or twisted, endings; and I highly recommend the collected stories (I have one of the rare collections on its way to me from Amazon).  The overall series title for these poems was inspired by Tiptree's collction, StarSongd Of An Old Primate.  OK, I am blathering now because I am so overwhelmed by your comment.


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