Dreamed 1/3/1990 by Chris Wayan
Enterprise. Captain Picard. Personal log. Stardate 2390.1.3
We've taken aboard a large group of refugees. They are descended from wolflike creatures and they're very... independent.
I headed for Deck One today, and the elevator took me to Two. A council of wolves were waiting. They hijacked the lift just to talk to me. It seems they don't have enough control over steering and running my ship! They also want manufacturing and botanical labs so they can grow and synthesize food properly.
I'm bewildered and annoyed: they don't seem to want to take over my ship, exactly, yet this whole deck is filled with wolves doing tech work, duplicating what our matter synthesizers can and will do for them on request. I remind them they are free to synthesize anything. They say that's too vague a process, our synthesizers use human language, they need their own preciser terms. They have a hunger for control--need to know the guts of any mechanism providing for their needs. A basic need of its own in their species--they cannot take handouts.
We reach Earth with my ship half-occupied by wolves. In drydock, refitting the ship, even as we restore damaged programs, they try new take-overs. And they are so thorny!
At last I act on a hunch. I request a few of the recently gene-engineered Earth dog-people and wolf-people come out to visit the refugee camp. Surely these people will be reassured by those of their own kind who can testify we're basically good--in recent centuries at least.
I was wrong. The aliens are appalled. They dread these creatures. They're more awkward with them than with us!
As humans feel about apes, perhaps, these wolves find close relatives... embarrassing. Debased reflections in twisted mirrors.
And dogs and wolves can read the aliens' reactions almost as well as their own. They admire their brains and the elegance of their older culture, so adapted to canine senses; in fact, our dogs adore them. The aliens can no longer say "none of you Earth creatures could possibly understand."
They have admirers now.
They loathe it.
Their cubs climb up on us to escape the wet welcomes of those awful dog people. And their parents? Oh, they cooperate. Problem solved.
Are you surprised I chanced on this solution? I, who am embarrassed most by informality, who cannot bear above all things to lose my dignity? Well, perhaps it was chance. Perhaps.
25 years ago I hadn't heard of the Uncanny Valley"--the idea that humans have two comfort zones, around humans and nonhuman animals; but almost-humans, whether prosthetic limbs, apes, mannequins, or robots, can creep us out. This trough of unease between the two comfort zones is the Uncanny Valley. Too close for comfort.
This dream independently postulated the Uncanny Valley, but further predicted that other intelligent creatures will turn out to have it too. At least these wolf-people did!
I wonder if it's true of dolphins, parrots, ravens and elephants?
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