They’re Made Out of Meat by Terry Bisson
In They’re Made Out of Meat by Terry Bisson we have a humorous story that looks at a conversation between two aliens who are probing the Universe for intelligent life. What is really interesting about the story is the fact that the life form the aliens encounter are actually human beings. Who the aliens cannot believe are intelligent. This may be significant as Bisson may be looking at the bigger picture and suggesting just how ridiculous human beings may be to other life forms. Just as human beings might find other life forms to be ridiculous in appearance. At no stage of the story do the aliens take humanity seriously. Again which might be a deliberate point by Bisson. He could be suggesting that society itself takes itself too serious. That the reality is we are just pieces of meat and may be viewed as such by others.
Though mankind might consider itself to be intelligent this is not the opinion of the aliens. They cannot see how mankind might be able to think for itself. Though the aliens do admit the mankind does think for itself and also dreams. The containers that the aliens suggest that mankind travels in could also be significant as Bisson could be suggesting that the containers are spaceships or probes. A point that is lost on the aliens who in all likelihood are particles of light travelling through space. If anything the aliens are prejudicial towards mankind and do not understand how pieces of meat can be intelligent. The aliens do not seem to have the rationale to understand that life can come in many forms, many of which may remain unknown to the aliens (or to mankind).
It is also significant that the aliens want to erase, from their records, any discovery of mankind. Which not only leaves the aliens in the dark when it comes to another life form but also denies mankind the opportunity to know that they are not alone in the Universe. If anything some critics might suggest that the aliens believe in their own self-importance. Possibly believing themselves to be the most intelligent life form in the Universe. Which may suggest or highlight just how ignorant the aliens are. They are not prepared to allow for circumstances that they consider to be ridiculous. Just as mankind might consider another alien life form to look ridiculous. Nonetheless one would hope that mankind did not act as the aliens have acted.
The hydrogen core cluster that is discovered by the aliens also plays an important role in the story. It is different to mankind in such that that the aliens know what it is. Even going as far as calling it shy and sweet. Adjectives which might often be used to describe some of mankind. In reality it is the aliens’ ignorance and arrogance which does not allow them to contact mankind. Despite mankind leaving a clear message for the aliens. An opportunity for contact has been lost and it may be many years before mankind discovers that they are not alone after the aliens mark the sector as unoccupied. The opportunity for two different types of life forms to learn from one another has been lost due to the aliens’ inability to think outside the box and realize that all is not known. Intelligent life comes in different shapes and forms, something the aliens do not really consider. Preferring instead to allow their prejudice to make their decisions.