Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Talus Slope
by Joseph Green

Who Benefits From War?
by Hayden Trenholm

Those Magnificent Stars
by Clare L. Deming

A Soldier Undreams
by Bret Carter

Eating Disorder
by Len Dawson

My Shaigetz
by Marcy Arlin

Two Timing
by Rik Hunik

To Dance With the Girls of Ios-5
by Ted Blasche


Psychology and Science Fiction
by Ann Gimpel, Ph.D.

Get Up and Go Somewhen
by J. Richard Jacobs

In Time For Evolution
by Eric M. Jones




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Blue Tears

RELATIONSHIP PETITION 66B92846S was brought before the Assembly of Sentient Entities as it was supposed to, on time, with little fanfare. After orbits of careful examination, it was determined that a small planet, nicknamed “Blue Tears” in a nondescript system light years off the beaten track, nonetheless bore one intelligent species. Perhaps others? That was doubtful. The lone species had progressed beyond a primitive state. They were capable of transforming their own planet. They had developed the most rudimentary space travel. They didn’t kill each other off as much anymore.

“That’s still not enough reason to commit resources and lifepower to a contact mission,” gurgled the Liaison from Neffrig, its green body-bristles stiffening. “I see no value in a species that is unlikely to realize they aren’t alone in the universe before their own sun dies. Leave them be!”

“But they are intelligent,” protested the Liaison from Ooieai. “Aren’t you the least bit curious how intelligence could develop way out in the fringes?”

“You Ooieai are curious about everything,” the Liaison from Neffrig scoffed. “You’d investigate a large gumrock if it looked interesting.”

“Floor! Floor!” The Liaison from Drmlgtrz flashed and blew smoke rapidly.

The Liaison from Neffrig passed the cup-o-palaver to the Liaison from Drmlgtrz who took it in a bony claw, then set the cup down on a nearby surface. He bowed. He was a “he” this time period. Next time the Liaison may choose to be a “she.” That was the way of the Drmlgtrz. He began: “Assemblyfolk, I—”

“Point of order!” somebody called out. “The Liaison from Drmlgtrz forgot to take a drink from the cup before speaking.”

The Drmlgtrz were very forgetful. That was another way of their species. The Liaison apologized most sincerely, took a sip, then continued. “I too am not convinced that a contact mission with, what’s the name of that place, Blue Tears, is in the best interests of this magnificent Assembly. Our close encounter probes have shown the planet to be mostly water. Our hydrophobic colleagues will have our skins if we show this planet any undue considerations. The life is carbon-based, so it has a tendency to smell. The atmosphere is rank. The planet is way overpopulated. What are we going to do with it? That species will never be able to visit us, and I, for one, would rather sleep with dusty merbleflites than visit them. The planet has nothing to offer. Aside from water, it is mostly aluminum and silicon, for gripe sakes. Aluminum and silicon! With an iron core, to boot. We need another iron core planet like we need a hole in the skies.”

“Why does everything have to be useful?” questioned the Liaison from Ooieai. “Pure science is a lofty goal all by itself. Didn’t only a few orbits past we deploy a contact mission to the No species?”

The Liaison from Neffrig’s body-bristles stood on end again. “The No are right down the block. They’d already colonized their own nearest planet. We had to act, despite the fact that they are, no offense, of no value.”

Several Assembly colleagues reacted mirthfully to the pun.

“Supposing we did mount a contact mission to this new world? Many of us wouldn’t see the results in our lifetimes. I’ll be damned if I’m going to bequeath a questionable project to my next next generation. And what do we tell the resident species in that farflung neck of the woods? Hi! You have company but you’ll never see us again. Aside from this tantalizing greet-and-meet, a cultural exchange is out of the question. We probably couldn’t exchange Liaisons. Even a war would be logistically impossible. So have a nice existence.”

The proposal to send a starship laden with technologies to trade was also quickly voted down. By the time the starship arrived at its destination, it was noted, the inhabitants of Blue Tears might themselves already have developed those technologies, or better. That would be embarrassing. Furthermore, technological advancement within the Assembly was far from stagnant. The mission voyagers would become, in effect, orphans—unaware of the civilization they were meeting, cut adrift from the civilization they had left.

All in favor? A trickle of Liaisons were in favor. All opposed? The clear majority of Liaisons were opposed. The Front Liaison who was in charge for this gathering of the Assembly took the cup-o-palaver and, after imbibing, declared “This petition is rejected. That is unfortunate. But not every intelligent species gets to attain interstellar recognition. Some must remain forever alone, unknown, and unknowing. That is the order of the natural universe in which we all reside.”

The Liaisons quietly murmured their assents.

“Next on the agenda?”

The leather-skinned Umber Fleen stood up to his full three-meter height and bellowed, because he couldn’t do anything other than bellow, “A petition to study the theory that we are all computer simulations in a game programmed by a species as advanced to us as we are to the lichen on Voskol IV.”

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Jack Vance