Export Commodity: Lost Sci-Fi Short Stories from the 40s, 50s, and 60s (Unabridged) Export Commodity: Lost Sci-Fi Short Stories from the 40s, 50s, and 60s (Unabridged)

Export Commodity: Lost Sci-Fi Short Stories from the 40s, 50s, and 60s (Unabridged‪)‬

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Export Commodity by Irving Cox Jr.

Henig was sent to obtain a soil sample of the planet. It was a routine assignment, but not necessarily the only method for discovering an—Export Commodity.

Three of the hairless bipeds stood in front of the frame building talking. Concealed by the brush beyond the road, Henig studied them carefully. These were the dominant species on this primitive world, unspeakably grotesque things. The pale, white-skinned animals had a culture of sorts—their language, their buildings, their wheeled vehicles testified to that—but an animal society was very different from the rational civilization Henig knew.

He was naked and he carried no weapons. That was the logic of the computers. But Henig was a fleet lieutenant, not one of the scientists. He put his faith in arms rather than computer logic. Stripped of his weapons, he lost a fundamental part of himself. The computers had said he would be safe, but too many things could go wrong. Too many factors might have been left out of the observer data submitted to the machines.

Henig inched cautiously toward the three white things standing near the wooden structure. The telecommunicator, which the surgeons had planted in his skull, caught the sound of alien voices and made a conceptual translation in terms Henig understood. He could have used the same device to communicate directly with the alien minds, but the scientist-general had warned him against that.

"The hairless bipeds," he told Henig, "are only an animal species. They have no civilization. Make no mistake about that, lieutenant."

"And if we decide we need their planet, sir—"

"We'll set up reservations for them, so they can't interfere with our operation."

"They won't have weapons to match ours," Henig suggested hopefully.

"If you go in uniform, lieutenant, even these witless things would recognize you as an alien."

Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Scott Miller
hr min
March 21
Scott Miller