“Extinction isn’t all it is cracked up to be” (my one and only sci-fi story)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you have enjoyed your tour of our renowned university city. And I do hope you have not had difficulty in understanding me. Yours is not a language we teach in our schools, but once we had found out that you still exist a few of us have endeavoured to learn English from the Internet.
You received some puzzled looks from the citizens and the students as we walked around. I apologise. They have of course seen images of you – usually in books or in the movies – but they never expected to see you alive, in the flesh, and to see you going about sightseeing so peaceably – well, that is just amazing.
Have any of you seen the human-made film ‘Jurassic Park’? No? It’s about some scientists who go to a place where the creatures they thought were extinct turn out not to be, but very much alive and very dangerous. It so happens we have a similar film, but the other way round if you get my meaning.
Before I escort you back to your vehicle, I thought you might like to have a look around one of our city’s best attractions: Whiteills Bookshop.
I beg your pardon, sir? Or is it madam? Sorry – I’m afraid I can’t distinguish your sex without examining in your genital organs. Ah, so you distinguish the sexes by the voice! Madam. You have a Blackwell’s Bookshop? Good gracious, what a coincidence!
You can see right away there are differences. Our bookshop, like all our buildings, has much higher ceilings than yours, of course. We all have to be able to walk around it in comfort. As you know, we vary in size and some of us have very long necks. The ladders are for the smaller species.
Yes, those things on the shelves are books.You can’t read them of course, but you might like to look at the picture books for newly hatched children. Here’s one with a cardboard cut-out of a human being, and this one is a pop-up people book. And this one tells your history – or what we thought was your history – about you going extinct. We were never sure why, but we thought it was probably due to a war, or to climate change. Now we know you are not extinct all these books will have to be revised.
Those posters show some of our famous authors. What’s that, madam? All our faces look the same to you? Sorry to say this, madam, but you all look the same to us.
Now here’s a display we are rather proud of. It’s to publicise our people books. Lovable, isn’t it? A cute stuffed human being. Our children find human beings absolutely fascinating. Don’t upset yourself, madam. It isn’t real. No human was harmed in the making of it. Couldn’t have been – when it was produced, as far as we knew, you humans were extinct. This is only a cuddly toy.
Now go back to your society on earth and tell them extinction isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Have a good flight. Come and see us again soon.