On Certain Other Extraterrestrials
There is a planet populated by sentient beings much like ourselves.
But their language is more like code. Synonyms are few, and syntax is strict.
Talking to one of these beings can feel like talking to a computer.
There is no poetry. Their novels are far more realistic than beautiful.
But on this planet, the writers don't write words – they write music.
Music so rich and deep that it can change the way you think and feel.
To these people, music isn't abstract. It can stand for concrete concepts.
Their greatest philosophers are all composers.
And their greatest lovers are all musicians.
Images, ideas, meanings and feelings are built up from chords and melodies.
The rhythm of this music is spontaneous and impossibly complex. No human could make sense of it.
One of these people, a female, ran away from her home. She travelled for months, lost, confused.
She was sitting under a tree, eating a fig, when a light went on in her head.
Throughout the next month, she composed and recorded a short collection of music.
She sang every instrumental part and built up simple textures with digital effects.
No one knows why, but it's the most beautiful thing you've ever heard.
It was published anonymously. None of the media channels would touch it.
But it spread, like wildfire, from friend to friend.
It had the most extraodrinary effect on people.
People were selling their automobiles. Walking out of their dead-end jobs. Falling in love, running away. Starting a farm. Deserting their regiments. Reprogramming their telescreens. Refusing to pay taxes. Joining happy-clappy tambourine cults. Forming revolutionary unions.
Of course, it had to stop. First, the churches called it devil-music and held mass burnings.
Then it was made illegal. The authorities issued a blanket ban, deleting every copy of the music on every digital device, introducing prison sentences for posession.
Within a year, they erased nearly every trace of the music.
A few individuals have comitted parts of the music to memory. Some of them still choose to risk imprisonment and meet in secret. They hum together, quietly.
This planet is populated by sentient beings much like ourselves.
Their language is more like code. Synonyms are few, and syntax is strict.