Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review “Greetings Humanity! Welcome To Your Choice of Species!” by Adam Troy-Castro.
Fiction Friday: Greetings Humanity! Welcome To Your Choice of Species!
I love transformation. The idea of being something other than a human is a favorite idea of mine. Also, I love opportunities to be something else, whether through science, magic or in between. So this story is kind of about that, but it makes you realize that even life in outer space isn’t fair.
Today’s short story is “Greetings Humanity! Welcome To Your Choice of Species!” by Adam Troy-Castro, as featured in Lightspeed Magazine. You can find it here. This isn’t so much a story as it is a fun little idea, more of a what if. But it’s an amusing one, so let’s dive into it.
What will you become?
So the story goes that you’ve destroyed earth beyond repair and angered an interstellar lawmaking organization (known as the Interstellar Commission on Minimum Standards of Worthiness of Indigenous Cultures, or ICMSWIC for short). Because you’re all dicks and destroyed your planet, instead of killing you off via righteous genocide, they’ve decided to make you into an existing species. They’re anywhere between off the wall strange to somewhat plausible.
If any of them sound like a great idea, then you’ll soon discover that each of them has a drawback. In fact, all of them do. And they’re all worse than simply being a human. They sound like a cool idea to start off and may convince you “Hey, yeah! I’d love to transform into that creature.” Well, you’ll learn how big of a bait and switch it can be.
To start, the first species is a race of Giant Earthworms. Not the most ideal creature, but you run the risk of being Robin food. Basically, your standard earthworm. This being the first option, you can clearly tell that they’re trolling you from the get-go. Let’s face it. You’re a species that they believe is evil, so why should they give you the benefit of peace? Makes sense when you think about it. I do want to be something like a rabbit or a squirrel in a future life, but at least I’d defend myself, even though I’m not good at it. Being a creature that’s both blind and deaf (according to this story, anyway) is problematic enough, but having no idea how you died is another.
Next up are a bipedal, pig-like race known as the porcine. They’re big, dumb, ugly, and probably smell just as bad as the animal they’re based on. Think orcs, except more disgusting. On first glance, this might be the only decent option among them. All they do is bash themselves into a brainless oblivion, but at least they’re somewhat sentient. However, the story goes out of its way to mention that you will not have your own clubs.
Assuming you are nowhere near another (which, considering the story, will likely put you smack dab in the middle of an entire clan with no way to defend yourself), you’d likely have to find your own club. Which, being dumb creatures is easier said than done. Granted, they may be intelligent enough to be able to forage and hunt, though that’s not saying much in this case. “Nevertheless, their generosity as a species is best measured by their eagerness to welcome as many ex-human beings as possible.” Sure they are.
We move on to the little butterfly-like species. A beautiful and elegant species that is as peaceful as it is gorgeous and has the wonderful lifespan of exactly five minutes and sixteen seconds. Probably the same amount of time to finish this blog post in its entirety. Insects are always short on life, so I refuse to be one, regardless of how beautiful they may be. Granted, a butterfly is the only good option, but that short of a lifespan, and I’d be reincarnating for a long time. And if reincarnation isn’t possible, I’m dead before I even had a chance to get my bearings.
As an aside, I fully believe that our life recycles infinitely. I don’t want to believe we die, and that’s it. Some things are understandable, but there may be things science can’t explain at all. Just my take on life.
The next species is an odd piece of abstract sentience that makes as much sense as you think it does. It’s odd, strange and likely has no purpose. But hey, at least you won’t die. I love the concept of this species that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, but it just shrugs and exists anyway. I feel it’s the perfect species for me. But I’d rather have some sort of purpose so…yeah…At least the concept is amusing.
Sentient Moss! Except it’s extinct and the scientists can’t be bothered to find a reasonable excuse to bring it back unless they were high on acid or something. Moving on.
The next species is flatter than a pancake on a world where gravity is so strong, life itself is barely sustainable. But these creatures exist, somehow, and they’re slow due to the planet’s massive gravitational pull. Basically, like slugs, except slower and flatter. This is notably the default for those who couldn’t care less, which is amusing that they even give you a default since everything else is purely a waste of time, except maybe the pig people. Also, the planet is freezing cold. Unless you like cold, then…nope.
Dolphins! Finally, something cool to turn into! Except your world is poisoned and the dolphins want to differentiate you from the real dolphins. Considering they’re more intelligent than us, no doubt there’ll be some racism involved. Again, I’d likely convince them that I’m the good one, but being on a dying world is…well, isn’t that the point of a species change? To get away from the world you destroyed in the first place? Also, the dolphins are probably gonna kill you. They’re actually more hostile than sharks. Just saying.
And finally, you’re going to potentially reside amongst the pantheon. Except you’ll more than likely be their pets and playthings rather than actual deities. You did ruin their world after all. Perhaps one day, they may consider you, but so few get the option anyway, that the likelihood is virtually nonexistent for most.
So, basically, all of them are pointless and you’ll likely die either way. Good job, humans, you did our species proud. 😀
The story also says that this won’t be mercy from extinction. I appreciate them being upfront about that instead of blatantly denying it. More than likely, considering the options, it’s clear they’re not showing any mercy to begin with. You did destroy a world, so I guess better to live a worse life than no life at all.
While not really a story, I did feel like one of the last few humans seeking hospitality and realizing how screwed I truly am. It’s amusing and sarcastic and really gives you the idea of how much pain you’re in for should this ever happen. Makes me wonder what other species we could have been that would have been worse choices. I guess the moral of the story is: there truly is a fate worse than death.
That’s all for today. Take care, take care of your world (or else the ICMSWIC will come for you) and remember, the inn is always open (regardless of species or origin).
If you have any suggestions for future topics and reviews, hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond. Your feedback is what keeps me going, so thank you for supporting me.
My Japanese Mythology-inspired short story, Do Not Stare Into The Eyes Of A Kitsune, is finally available. You can buy it on Amazon or wherever ebooks are sold. Help a debut author make his debut worth it.
My next work will be titled “City of Kaiju,” a tale about an unlikely alliance between a young girl and her gigantic dog-dragon monster, as they survive chaos and disaster from a gigantic kaiju invasion. Part of a new Short Novel initiative, intended to fill in the gap between releases. Set for release within the Fall 2018/Winter 2019 period. Read more about it here.