“So, Jonathan is correct. You’re actually from another planet.”
“Yes.” Kiri said matter-of-factly. “Actually.”
“Then you’re not human.”
“What do you mean?” she said, a little indignantly. “I’m as human as you are. You know, you get some pretty provincial ideas isolated here on this rather backward planet circling a rather insignificant star – actually a dwarf class F6.”
“G2V,” Ding Xi corrected.
“OK, G2V. That’s even smaller. Just because outside civilizations have chosen not to contact you yet, you think you’re somehow unique in the universe. You’re still speculating about whether there’s any life in the universe outside your planet. So silly. So self-important.”
“But … but…,” objected Ben. Wow! Pretty sensitive, he thought. Could I have said something wrong?
“It’s OK. … I should be more understanding. There’s no reason you should know … I guess. But your six billion on Earth are only a minor, rather backward group of the species. Our planet, Hamun, is about the size of Earth but has twice the land area. I haven’t been to our home planet yet, but my father told me that it’s a garden paradise with eight billion of us – what you call humans — living happily with three billion others of several, more intelligent, species. And that’s just the beginning. We know of dozens of planets in this part of the galaxy with human inhabitants. Humans, it seems, are very active explorers … and reproducers.”
“Wait! Back up a minute. … There are Homo sapiens on other planets? And there are species more intelligent than us?” asked Ben, a bit overwhelmed.
Ding Xi looked amused.
“Let me show you something,” said Kiri. She got out her little smart phone. “A race called the Senma who have traveled widely in this galaxy you call the Milky Way have studied more than a thousand inhabited planets, including Earth.”
“Cool,” said Ben.
“The Senma pride themselves on their immense intellectual potential (as measured by themselves, of course). Unfortunately, they show little creativity and, as a matter of fact, very little activity at all, except in taking intelligence tests and compiling results. But anyway, they have published an extensive list of species on these planets, documenting their physical characteristics, forms of communication, social organizations and intelligence.
We’re getting a little far afield from our purpose in inviting you here, but if you would like I guess it wouldn’t hurt for you to take a peek at a bit of this galactic database of intelligence.”
“Sure.” said Ben. “I’d like to see it. But how could they measure our intelligence? I haven’t seen too many little green men running around giving intelligence tests to humans and other animals.”
“Well, several of your very intelligent marine species have actually been contacted directly and have cooperated in the studies. They’re very concerned, you know, about how humans are screwing up the ocean environment. To tell you the truth, your civilization is regarded as kind of a … “
She turned to Ding Xi. “What do they call it?”
“A loose cannon,” he smiled.
“Yes. A loose cannon in this part of the galaxy — dangerous to yourselves and others, so the Senma have based their findings largely on your TV and radio transmissions, rather than direct contact.”
“Uh-oh,” Ben said. “You mean like “Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan’s Island?”
“I’m afraid so,” Kiri said. “And talk radio, especially, like … Lunch Rimbaugh. Is that his name?”
“Something like that.”
“Anyway, are you sure you want to see the intelligence results?”
“By all means,” said Ben, expectantly.
“OK. Let’s take a look. “ Kiri called up the listing and showed Ben the screen:
“Birefringes inhabit the ocean on my planet,” she said. “I’ve never seen them because, as I told you, I’ve never been home, but my father told me that they’re very beautiful and affectionate as well as brilliant.”
“Oh, you mean your planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani.”
“Oh, no,” she laughed. “My home is actually in that same direction but much farther away. We only have what you Mainers would call a ‘camp’ on a planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani. I know it’s been discussed a lot in your science fiction literature, but the planet is quite primitive — still relatively unspoiled and relaxed – sort of like Maine. We like to say: ‘It’s the way life ought to be’. We’ll visit our camp sometime if you’d like.”
“That would be out of this world!” said Ben.
“I guess you could say that,” she smiled.
Ben looked carefully at the list. “But I don’t see Homo sapiens.”
Kiri looked at the screen. “Oh, I’m sorry. These are the Senma’s names for the species. I’ll change the names of the Earth species to what your scientists call them.” She typed in a few commands:
“Oh. There we are. This must be the top of the list. Looks like Homo sapiens is not at the top, but we’re pretty far up there in intelligence,” said Ben proudly.
“Well …not actually,” said Kiri. “This is close to the bottom of the list.”
“Oh,” said Ben, a bit subdued. “But we’re a lot more intelligent than the Saccharomyces*, aren’t we,” he said, perking up.
“Sure you are,” Kiri said reassuringly, placing her hand on his.
* Saccharomyces – yeast
(to be continued)
© 2012 Eric Lord Bandurski
All Rights Reserved