October 18, 2006

Animal uplift sci-fi: "Empathy"

PJ Manney alerted me to a short science fiction story about bonobo uplift in Cosmos Magazine. Called "Empathy," it's a neat little story written by Chris Lawson and told from the perspective of an uplifted ape.

Here's an excerpt:
The man goes to the front and starts the engine. He is dangerous. The woman is nice. The white man scares the woman too, I think. Maybe she helps me if I talk nice to her.

So I say to her, "Hello." She stares at me.

I say "Hello" again.

Her mouth drops. She shouts to the man. "He talks!" she says.

The man doesn't know what she means. Then she uses the baldface language. I know bits of baldface language. Some of the words I hear, but there are lots of extra little words, lots of esses, and she talks very fast. She says something like, "Not sign language. He speaks with his mouth." I do not understand what is sign language. It is not baldface language or bonobo creole. It must be something different. Of course I speak with my mouth. How else? The man looks angry at the woman. He is very scary.

"Don't be ridiculous! He is a chimp!" he shouts.

I say, "Not he! She! Not chimp! Bonobo!" The white man and the white woman stare at me.

"Special bonobo," I say. "Fox-p bonobo. Very special. My name is Jules." They still do not speak. I tell them my name, but they say nothing. They are rude. They should tell me their names. I try again very polite.
The entire story can be found here.

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