“They’re made out of meat”

This got sent to me today by a mate who makes me laugh. Had to share.

They’re Made Out of Meat
by Terry Bisson

“They’re made out of meat.”


“Meat. They’re made out of 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.”

“So … what does the thinking?”

“You’re not understanding, are you? You’re refusing to deal with what I’m telling you. The brain does the thinking. The meat.”

“Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”

“Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?”

“Omigod. You’re serious then. They’re made out of meat.”

“Thank you. Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they’ve been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.”

“Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?”

“First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual.”

“We’re supposed to talk to meat.”

“That’s the idea. That’s the message they’re sending out by radio. ‘Hello. Anyone out there. Anybody home.’ That sort of thing.”

“They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?”
“Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat.”

“I thought you just told me they used radio.”

“They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat.”

“Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?”

“Officially or unofficially?”


“Officially, we are required to contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe, without prejudice, fear or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing.”

“I was hoping you would say that.”

“It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?”

“I agree one hundred percent. What’s there to say? ‘Hello, meat. How’s it going?’ But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?”

“Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can’t live on them. And being meat, they can only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact.”

“So we just pretend there’s no one home in the Universe.”

“That’s it.”

“Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you probed? You’re sure they won’t remember?”

“They’ll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we’re just a dream to them.”

“A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat’s dream.”

“And we marked the entire sector unoccupied.”

“Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?”

“Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again.”

“They always come around.”

“And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the Universe would be if one were all alone …”

the end


41 thoughts on ““They’re made out of meat”

  1. dex says:

    Very very cool. Better than Huisgenoot, even.

  2. misericordia says:

    in which the things that matter exist at the margin of our culture. What matters? How birthing takes place matters; how infants are raised matters; having a rich and active dream life matters. Animals matter, and so does ontological security and the magic of personal interaction and healthy and passionate sexual expression. Career and prestige and putting a good face on it and the newest fashion in art or science do not matter.

  3. ramon says:

    Sorry i didn’t comment on this earlier.

    Really funny. You’re right, quite a chuckle, but it really made me feel kind of funny too. Made me think really hard.
    What are these people going to the moon for, anyway?
    Fuck, I paged through and old Biology book the other day and came to realize (fully) that we have no idea what or who we are. Yet we are trying to show off how ‘clever and amusing’ we can be.

    That’s it.

    I’m buying a fucking farm in the North East of Thailand.
    Near the Mekhong River. I’m gonna grow rice and plant veggies and maybe a little ganja. I don’t want anything to do with this shit anymore.

  4. andreas says:

    I’m sick of this humanity shit too. You’ve got a nice idea. You need a partner? We’ll be like George and Lennie. Nice little farm…growing alfalfa…what, no…Ganja….mmmmm, Ganja.

    Actually, fuck that. You don’t want me there. I’d probably syndicate the whole operation and sell off Ganja futures and rice options and try to privatise the Mehkong River. Jesus, I AM the fucking shit I’m sick of. Aaaargh!

    I need to find me a quiet Mexican beach, pronto. 3 months. Me. A little shack. A longboard. A hammock. A girl. That would do me just fine.

  5. dolce says:

    Hey Ramon, made me feel funny too…and just a little infinitesimal. What does all this shoving and sweating and beating and striving mean. We’re like a plague of meat, man.

    So, if you and AJ need someone to weed the…um….weed, you just let me know!

    And AJ, 2 longboards, brother…you’re teaching me how to surf, ok?

  6. andreas says:

    2 longboards it is. But I guess that means that the “girl” part is also in your job description. Unless we get a really big hammock and find ourselves a dark-eyed senorita. I’m keen.

    PS: “A plague of meat”…love it, D. That’s my new favourite way to describe the virus that is humanity.

  7. dolce says:

    Hey, for a brief, unencumbered moment there I could feel it. The breeze. The sway of the hammock. The icy condensation on the mojitos; the smell of mint and rum. The sound of the sea. A dark-eyed senorita…..

    *Dolce shakes her head*

    Shit, AJ…it’s Monday morning for gods sake!

  8. andreas says:

    There I was…imagining paddling out with the morning sun on my back, a girl sans wetsuit, grinning, maybe up for a couple of salty kisses out at backline; perfect sets rolling in…hell there was even a porpoise or two for a moment. And a friendly wave from Eduardo, the wise old beach comber, a tiny figure on the distant shore, delivering more tequila…

    Then crash.

    Monday. Jo’burg.


  9. ramon says:

    So I bought the land! 11 Rai (I’m too lazy to convert it), But it’s huge! The soil is fertile, there are loads of mango,papaya,goose berry and cotton trees. Also a huge part for rice.

    Will let you know when there are big ganja trees, OK?

    It’s right in the middle of nowhere, about 40km from the Mekhong river. Maybe I’ll set up something with the village next door, like organizing “cultural trips”, you know, where you come and chill out with the local people – they show you how to weave those cool grass mats, do some cooking, fishing, go frog hunting, herb picking, bamboo shoot gathering, rice whiskey drinking, Karaoke bar singing, etc.

    What do you reckon?

  10. dolce says:

    That is fantastic. Man, huge hug and some prodigious back slapping.

    And I’m so in for cultural stuff. Just as long as I don’t have to trek…I can’t ever trek again.

  11. ramon says:

    Quite chuffed with myself too.
    We’ll get you a 4×4, how’s that. No trekking.

  12. andreas says:

    ‘n Boer in Mehkong.

  13. ramon says:

    Andreas, daar’s hy nou, pappa!

  14. dolce says:

    Yes please. Or one of those cool bikes.

    So, what’s still to do before it becomes reality? Is this going to be home sweet home or just home away from home?

  15. ramon says:

    Dolce, Gotta save some more cash to start building the house and that, If all goes as planned-3years. I really don’t want my kids to grow up in the city. Not at all.

    Those ATV’s as they are referred to by our American friends?
    Will that be OK?

  16. dex says:

    How’s your wife gonna react the day Dolce comes a-knock-knock-knocking? Or is there another aspect to your 3yr plan you’re not telling us?

  17. ramon says:

    I’m not into that kind of thing, dude. I’m a polite, honest Boerseun. My wife will love having Dolce around.

  18. dolce says:

    I’ll even throw in some of my famed baby sitting skills. Though, I suspect I’m more famous with the kids than with the parents.

    So exactly how many kids will be growing up in your new paradise?

  19. dex says:

    I was hoping for some dark, sordid plan involving some rope, a hacksaw and a secluded patch of land.

    You really a Boerseun?

  20. dolce says:

    I should be insulted, but whatever. I’m just gonna be weeding the weed, spoiling the children, eating mangos and dangling my feets in the Mekong.

  21. dex says:

    I can’t stand this anymore – it’s called a quadbike. Or as us westranders call it, a Kwat.

  22. andreas says:

    Grey Bloem, Dex – that’s about as boerseun as you get.

    I used to play rugby against those boerseuntjies. Hard men, I tell you.

  23. ramon says:

    Ek is vannie volk. Naaiers.

  24. ramon says:

    It seems I don’t have a say in that anymore, D. Let’s wait and see, hey? I reckon 4’s enough!

  25. ramon says:

    Couldn’t think of the name for the thing. ‘n Kwat.

  26. dex says:

    well don’t feel bad, Ramon – nobody’s perfect.
    just kidding.

    so, how do mielies grow in that climate?
    just kidding.

    You and me, Ramon, we should post some long, long blogs about Afrikaner consciousness and kulture and boerewors. It’ll go down well here, I know it.

  27. dolce says:

    Is that four with or without the little one on the way?


  28. marco says:

    can keep Dolce pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen hahaha.

  29. andreas says:

    What’s with all the questions? Are you a law enforcement agent or something? Hey, why not just type up a detailed questionnaire for the poor guy to answer.

    And afterwards you can investigate Dex, then JT, and so on…

  30. dolce says:

    I donno, just interested. Dex and Ramon seem to be in the category of “good dad”….not something I’m familiar with. So I’m just poking it with a stick to see what sort of beast it is. Y’know?

  31. ramon says:

    Mielies groei lekker hier. I like the kulture thing. Might just take you up on that.

  32. dex says:

    if you want to find out – I’ll happily be your daddy for a while…

    you keen?

  33. ramon says:

    will have four including the one on the way.
    That’s probably enough.

    Questions too.

  34. dolce says:

    Especially since the rope and hatchet stuff….bad daddy!

    (You make me laugh though!)

  35. dex says:

    not even if I keep the rope and…

    [wait for it]

    bury the hatchet?

  36. dolce says:


    I’m gonna have to axe you to stop.

  37. dex says:

    …but I’ll carrion anyway.

  38. dolce says:

    That’s truely offal!

  39. ramon says:

    Your wife likes it when I put my toes in hot Mozzarella and feet it to her hahaha.

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