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“They’re Made Out of Meat”

Amelia Beamer and Terry Bisson
Amelia Beamer and Terry Bisson

‘ “They’re Made Out of Meat” is a Nebula Award-nominated short story by Terry Bisson. It was originally published in OMNI. It consists entirely of dialogue between two characters, and Bisson’s website hosts a theatrical adaptation. A film adaptation won the Grand Prize at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum’s 2006 film festival.

The two characters are sentient beings capable of traveling faster than light, on a mission to “contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe.” Bisson’s stage directions represent them as “two lights moving like fireflies among the stars” on a projection screen. They converse briefly on their bizarre discovery of carbon-based life, which they refer to incredulously as “thinking meat”. They agree to “erase the records and forget the whole thing”, marking the Solar System “unoccupied”.

The story was collected in the 1993 anthology Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories, and has circulated widely on the Internet, which Bisson finds “flattering”. It has been quoted in cognitive, cosmological, and philosophical scholarship. ‘ (via Wikipedia)

Here is a link to an mp3 of a reading of the entire story.