Short Stories: They’re Made out of Meat by Terry Bisson

“They’re made out of meat.”

     “Meat?”

     “Meat. They’re made out of meat.”

     “Meat?”

     “There’s no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.”

     “That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?”

     “They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”

     “So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.”

     “They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”

     “That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”

     “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they’re made out of meat.”

     “Maybe they’re like the orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage.”

     “Nope. They’re born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn’t take long. Do you have any idea what’s the life span of meat?”

     “Spare me. Okay, maybe they’re only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.”

     “Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They’re meat all the way through.”

     “No brain?”

     “Oh, there’s a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

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