Author : W Hunter

“Where is everybody?” Enrico Fermi, 1950

The enormous space craft slid out of the hyper-dimensional matrix in the orbit of one of the gas-giant planets. It gravitated towards the inner planets smoothly, gathering data by the millisecond. Within a short time the thousands of remote detectors had transmitted a gargantuan amount of data to a massive computer network. The data was immediately analysed and collated into a report which was then arranged and organised into an executive report by an Assessment Officer.

Commander Xent was deeply engrossed in Interthought when Assessment Officer Hettel entered the chart room.

“Excuse my interruption, sir, but I need your opinion on my analysis of this planet.

It took a fraction of a minute for the Commander to adjust his attention. “I’m sorry Hettel, I was engrossed in an intriguing exploration of 11 dimensional topographies with two time dimensions with the Chent brothers.

“Sorry to intrude” said Hettel.

“Not at all, my Command duties take priority. How can I help?”

“Well,” said Hettel, “I have completed my analysis of the third planet in this system and I need your opinion on my conclusion. I will upload my report onto your Thoughtscreen now. May I talk you through it?”

“Go ahead” said the Commander.

Hettel resolved to be brief and to the point. ”As you see, we have a 96 % conformity with our own preferred physical environment: Atmosphere: 80 % Nitrogen, 20% oxygen, traces of carbon dioxide and Helium. Surface: Large areas of saline water and a variety of land masses, some extensive fresh water areas and tributaries. Suitable temperature zones. Biologically: Mammalian species, dominated by intelligent bipeds, somewhat aggressive but not dangerously so. Warm blooded avian species and numerous cold blooded reptiles etc. No surprises here”.

The Commander nodded.

“Cell nuclei contain coding molecules similar to ours, same bases, phosphate bridges and sugars only slightly different. Amino acids same or near identical with ours, two less in number. General conformity 97%.

Micro organisms of the single cell variety, coding chemistry types 2 and 3. Large variety of molecular cell invaders. Overall similarity rating 89%.

That’s more or less it, sir, unless you require more information?”

The Commander turned his penetrating gaze on Hettel. “So what’s your recommendation?”

Hettel was confident. “I had high hopes for the suitability of this planet when we made our long distance assessment. Now that we have this detailed data I have no hesitation in rejecting contact totally.”

“I agree entirely” said the Commander. Far too close a match. Early contact with planets like this were disastrous- invasion of all our life systems by micro organisms, nothing on the planet digestible, 100% mortality.”

“I find it quite depressing. We seem to be stuck with finding planets with barely developed life forms, very different from ours and then completely sterilising them before colonisation. Co-existence with other species would be so stimulating if we could just find the right non-invasive systems.”

“I share your sentiments” said Hettel, morosely.

“OK, then” said the Commander heavily, “I’ll direct that we leave this system forthwith and continue our exploration on the planned route. For the record, Hettel, what does the intelligent species call their planet?”

“They call it Earth, sir” said Hettel.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows