They’re Made Out of Meat

 By Shamus Mar 21, 2007 28 comments

Best Sci-fi story I’ve seen in years. It has almost a Douglas Adams crazyness to it. It’s short, and worth it.

Check it out.

Hat tip: Haibane.info.

20828 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. There is an amusing film adaptation of the story. It’s significantly modified from the original, but I think it captures the essence quite well.

  2. GreyDuck says:

    I amused (and somewhat horrified) some of my friends with that story a couple of weekends ago. Good stuff.

  3. Mordaedil says:

    Delightful.

  4. Carl the Bold says:

    Thinking meat?

    I’ve met many meats that don’t.

  5. Gary's Friend Jim says:

    Yeah, I like it. Kind of puts the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in perspective.

  6. TheRedTide says:

    Heh, I read that one a while back and too thought it was an incredible perspective on our own humanity. Somewhat depressing, but more thought provoking than anything, I thought it was quite a good read.

  7. Rhykker says:

    I suppose, for it’s time, when sci-fi was more cutting-edge and silicon-based life forms were all the rage, this story is good.

    If it would have been written today, however, no one would give it a second glance, in my opinion. It’s immediately evident the “meat” is humans – which would have been fine if the “aliens” provided more insight on the follies of man, with regards to any such topic as government, social institutions, corruption and waste, etc… But the whole crux of the story is that they’re freaked out that we’re made of meat, when frankly, there’s much worse about us on which to comment.

    I didn’t feel robbed of my time after reading it, as I did enjoy it to some extent, but I felt like I was being led by the nose throughout.

    Just my two intergalactic cents…

  8. Polk says:

    I remember reading this a month ago and wondering why I didn’t save the link. Brilliant.

  9. Attorney At Chaos says:

    There is also a song version of this story, though I can’t find the lyrics on the web to point you to. Gives it a melody, rhyme and scansion and otherwise tells pretty much the complete story.

    (A websearch will find a song with the same title by Jet Lag Gemini, but that is NOT the same thing.)

  10. Namfoodle says:

    Yeah, I remember this one. My friend read it aloud to me out of the magazine back in the ’90′s. We cracked up, but I don’t think anyone is supposed to be surprised that we are the meat the aliens are talking about.

    It reminds of this story I had to read in 7th grade social studies. It was called “the sacred RAC”. RAC was car spelled backwards, and the story talked about a society that worshiped large metal beasts that did nothing but consume resources, pollute and run people over. But everyone still wanted one. Cars do consume (too many) resources, but the story totally left out the offsetting economic benefits of a transportation system (even one with flaws).

    I think the goal of the story was to make us sensitive to the concept of cows being sacred in India. Which I still think is a bit silly, but no more or less silly than any other piece of culture. You can’t really throw stones when you live in this glass house we call D&D!

  11. Tallain says:

    I stumbled on this while searching the Internet for “The Cold Equations.” I read it. Twice.

    And I liked it. Twice.

  12. RHJunior says:

    Submitted that the fatal flaw to the story is that creatures who are not made of organic substances, and hence do not eat animal flesh, would not think of organic substances as “meat.”
    “Biochemical residue,” perhaps. but not “Meat.”

  13. Tom says:

    I used to be the editor of a magazine in mainland China, and we ran a translation of that story. It was very popular with the readers, which surprised me as I was taking a bit of a chance with it. I mean, I liked it a lot, but I wasn’t sure they would.

  14. ngthagg says:

    We don’t call metal geological residue, we call it metal.

    Rhykker: you missed the main comment of the story, which was condemning prejudice. The whole point is that the aliens are not isolating humans for good, rational reasons, they are isolating them because they are different.

    ngthagg

  15. A couple years ago, I heard this as an online radio play on Sci-Fi’s Seeing Ear Theater .

  16. Shamus says:

    Dangit! That sounded like it would be really great, and then they only offer the radio program in RealPlayer.

    Curses!

  17. Telas says:

    Did anyone else find the placement of Comment 6 and 7 particularly funny, or was it just me?

  18. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Namfoodle: I still remember reading that story! You didn’t perchance go to school at Kenilworth Junior High in Edmonton, Alberta, did you?

    IM me at RichardCDavison@hotmail.com if you did. That would be sweet!

  19. Lanthanide says:

    The video is interesting but suffers one fatal flaw, as pointed out by a commentor in the thread.

    Why would two aliens who are disgusted by meat choose to appear as meat, in ‘meat space’ and converse using meat means? The part when they talk about making meat sounds was particularly daft – that’s exactly how they themselves are communicating at that very point in time, yet they find it unfamothably gross/weird.

  20. Takkelmaggot says:

    Ah, that old gem. I remember reading it in eigth grade in a sort of Xeroxed sci-fi anthology. (The rest of the stories didn’t measure up.)

  21. Eddy says:

    I actually first heard that on the Escape Pod podcast. Fun story, though.

  22. T-Boy says:

    The story seems familiar.

    At any rate, it just made me think, “Ho, just you wait until we upload our consciousness into computronium, and we’ll make you blighters sorry

  23. Mordaedil says:

    They are of course just holograms.

  24. asqwasqw says:

    It’s a good story, and the best part was this:
    “And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the Universe would be if one were all alone …”

    It puts things in perspective.

    I also like the meatist(?) aliens because it shows no matter how advanced you are, how intelligent you become, you still can be a douchebag.

  25. Deoxy says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story (I think those not enjoying it are missing the point, at least judging by their comments).

    Also, I heard the RAC story, too, but I interpreted it as one of the watermelon* “CARS BAAAAADDDD” pieces (as you mentioned, it completely left out every benefit of automobiles – while somewhat humorous, I find BS like that trite at best).

    * Green on the outside, red on the inside.

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