Friday, September 7, 2012

Reading: The most delicious sci-fi plot twist since “'To Serve Man”

If you followed the RNC convention and platform-construction last week, you may find this funny as hell.

Or you may not.

The departure point of Sherri Tepper's "The Fresco,” a story that might be described as science-fiction with a healthy dose of satire, is that our space exploration has drawn the attention of other worlds who are organized to maintain peace. Through a human selected as their sole emmisary to our planet, the representatives of this organization of other worlds invite us to join them and share in their knowledge and development. (We can decline the offer, but the alternative isn't pretty, and it hinges on the fact that this organization isn't the only one Out There whose notice we've attracted.)

In order to make sure that Earth abides by the rules of this confederation, their representatives leave behind “monitors” called Inkliti, specialized life-forms designed to enforce peaceful behavior on our part.

There is one possible wrinkle in the plan, though, as one of the representatives explains in the following message to their chosen emmisary; but they're confident they've worked out an elegant solution:

The question of resources brings me to a delicate point. Because our need was immediate, we brought back with us the only Inkleozese monitors who were available at the time. Virtually all of them are in that state of parturition that will soon require a host animal. There are no quodm, geplis, nadervaks on Earth. The most suitable creatures will be male persons, as their hormones are more easily adjustable to the needs of the growing Inkliti.

Under usual circumstances, the Inkleozese would refuse to leave their planet at such a time. Only our elucidation of the pro-life feelings of many men in positions of power convinced them they could find hosts on Earth without offending the free will of its inhabitants. Obviously, the hosts will have to be persons who espouse the pure pro-life position which does not allow reproductive choice even in the case of rape. Not that these gentlemen would consider it a rape, but we all know what the media do with any events related to sexuality.

While the Inkleozese might be offended by the anti-woman bigotry underlying much pro-life dogma, we have not seen fit to discuss with them the psychological minutia of the situation. They would be outraged, or worse, if a host animal refused the implantation of an Inklit egg, but since implantation is always done with the host in a euphoric state, we know the gentlemen will not refuse. We have, therefore, selected hosts for the Inkleozese on the basis of their publicly stated receptivity to preborn life.

Among those chosen are your legislators who have repeatedly asserted an unequivocal antichoice position. We have also added to the list a number of TV and radio preachers and commentators who have been rigorously pro-life. Once the immediate need is taken care of, we will explain the matter as seems necessary. Everyone will be told that the hosts are pregnant with babies of an intelligent life form which it would be a grave ethical error to remove. Though the impregnation has or will be done without the hosts' individual permission, in a legal sense we may infer their position from the stand which they have taken upon the issue of rape. Each man on our list has gone record as refusing to allow choice to women who have been raped, pointing out that the infant is innocent and must therefore take precedence. The Inkleozese could not ask for a better statement of their own belief.

In any case, the implantations will only be a temporary inconvenience for the hosts. They will most likely survive the pregnancy and emergence experience without lasting harm, just as most of your women do. The hosts will have only a few months of discomfort and inconvenience, though of course their careers must be set aside for a time. Inasmuch as they have frequently decried the shallowness of women who attempted to avoid pregnancy for mere career convenience, however, we are assured of their understanding.

Sheri S. Tepper,
The Fresco (2002)
(Hat-tip to James the Elder, who sent me The Fresco shortly after it first came out.)

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