Dinosaurs • 1987 • Far future SF novelette by Walter Jon Williams

★★★☆☆

Synopsis: Ambassador Drill is a posthuman some million of years in the future. He lands on the planet of the Shar to mediate a conflict. Billions of Shar have been slaughtered on several planets. Drill concedes this, but cannot change it, because the genocide was caused by non-sentient terraforming machines.

Review: This novelette gives the reader a mirror to many alien invasion stories, just the other way round: humans are in a highly specialized, nearly ridiculous state with diversified conscousness, and several minds dealing with his thinking. They don’t have any real intention or plan anymore, everything runs highly automated.

The Shars’ half emotional, half rationale arguments can’t cross the huge gulf between them and post-humanity.

“You will have killed us,” Gram said, “destroyed the culture that we have built for thousands of years, and you won’t even give it any thought. Your species doesn’t think about what it does any more. It just acts, like a single-celled animal, engulfing everything it can reach. You say that you are a conscious species, but that isn’t true. Your every action is… instinct. Or reflex.”

The only metaphorical dinosaurs are the humans, ever consuming and reproducing.

Recommended for SF readers who want a contemplative story with social commentary – because what makes us human?

Meta: isfdb. I’ve read it it in the collection Best of Walter Jon Williams published by Subterranean.

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3 Responses to Dinosaurs • 1987 • Far future SF novelette by Walter Jon Williams

  1. pdtillman says:

    I recall liking this one a LOT when it was new. I don’t think it’s aged well. SO your 3-star is likely what I might give it now. I haven’t read it lately, and likely won’t, when I read the new collxn.

    Another topic: Your post re the new Becky Chambers returns this:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pdtillman says:

    “Page not found.” As did another one I’d hoped to read TOD. I take it you didn’t care for this one?

    Liked by 1 person

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