They're Made Out of Meat. Terry Bisson, 1990. Short Story
"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."
"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they're made out of meat."
Bisson is one of those authors who will write about any type of science fiction. Bears discovering fire, the reshaping of the american mid-west, the death of all green life on earth, and of course extraterrestrials.
They're Made Out of Meat is basically a short story where aliens demonstrate a variation of chauvinism very similar to Carl Sagan's concept of carbon chauvinism. Its a short, entertaining read told entirely through dialogue that attempts to give a possible solution to Fermi's Paradox. While the idea of non-carbon based life is not a unique idea to Bisson, I've yet to see the concept presented in such a simple, humorous way.
The story itself is fairly basic, two aliens tasked with finding, classifying and contacting all sentient life discuss the strangeness of our own carbon-based bodies. That's it. It's short, simple, and wonderfully entertaining. If anything its only real weakness is its length. After finishing it I couldn't help but wish the story was longer. The aliens mention other species throughout the universe with fantastic anatomies and strange metamorphic bodies but we're never introduced to these with anything more than an off-handed mention. Some might say the premise isn't really suited for a longer piece and that by keeping the story short, Bisson keeps the story from overstaying its welcome but that doesn't really solve the issue. Then again, maybe the best stories are the ones that leave you begging for more.
Who Should Read This Story
Anyway I recommend this story if you're:
Looking for a thought provoking short story
A fan of the strange and unusual ideas
Looking to kill 5 minutes reading a humorous story
Basically They're Made Out of Meat is a sweet little ride that presents an interesting idea in a strangly intriguing manner and does an excellent job making the reader wish it didn't have to end. Oh, and the story is free on Bisson's website. Click here to read it. You can also find it, along with several other Bisson short stories in this short story collection.
And of course, if you've read this story please give us your opinions on it by leaving a comment. And don't forget to subscribe and add us on Facebook and Twitter if you liked this post.
Rusty is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and gets up to all kinds of shenanigans planning for any and all kinds of apocalypse when he's not busy reading, writing, or yo-yoing. Keep up with him and Rachel on Facebook and Twitter to get cool, space related news or click here to read more of his thoughts on the terror of alien invasion novels.