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The Things by Peter Watts

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"The Things" is a 2010 science fiction short story by Peter Watts. It is about an ancient shape-shifting alien who crash lands on Earth, then tries to figure out the strange and unique human race.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Camping in the Norwegian mountains by Fishking_1, CC 2.0 License

Many, many years after an alien vessel crashes on Earth, the site is uncovered in an archaeological dig. That is all fine and dandy, but it inadvertently unleashes “the alien” on human kind. This alien is one of those multiple biomass shape shifting kind – you know, the kind that can break itself into pieces and disguise itself as human. When it tries to “commune” with humans they become angry and do what humans are notorious for doing: they try to kill it. This is a story told from the alien’s point of view, and describes how humankind is so strange and different from the other life forms in the galaxy. The question is will this alien succeed in teaching humans how to overcome unimaginable loneliness, or will it be destroyed by them? Good luck suckah’s!

Some Juicy Tidbits About This Story

  • Word count: 6,836 (12 pages)
  • Did you know that Peter Watts has “a bunch of degrees in the ecophysiology of marine mammals?” Yep. You can learn more about this science fiction author (and scientist) on his web site.
  • This story was nominated for a bunch of awards. It was a 2011 Hugo Award Nominee, 2010 BSFA Award Finalist, 2010 Shirley Jackson Award Nominee, 2011 Finalist: the Locus Award for Best Short Story and 2011 Theodore Sturgeon Award Nominee. Whew!

Where To Find The Things

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you liked "The Things" then you may also enjoy “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” – about a group of anthropological aliens who are studying the long and brutal empire of mankind.