They're Made Out of Meat
|"They're Made Out of Meat"|
|Publication date||April 1991|
"They're Made Out of Meat" is a Nebula Award-nominated short story by Terry Bisson. It was originally published in OMNI. It consists entirely of dialogue between two characters. Bisson's website hosts a theatrical adaptation. A film adaptation won the Grand Prize at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum's 2006 film festival.
The two characters are intelligent beings capable of traveling faster than light, on a mission to "contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe." Bisson's stage directions represent them as "two lights moving like fireflies among the stars" on a projection screen. They converse briefly on their bizarre discovery of carbon-based life, which they refer to incredulously as "thinking meat". They agree to "erase the records and forget the whole thing", marking the Solar System "unoccupied".
The story was collected in the 1993 anthology Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories, and has circulated widely on the Internet, which Bisson finds "flattering". It has been quoted in cognitive, cosmological, and philosophical scholarship.
They're Made out of Meat (2005)
In 2005, Stephen O'Regan wrote and directed a live film adaptation starring Tom Noonan and Ben Bailey. The film was made as a final project for the New York Film Academy. The main action takes place inside of a diner full of teenagers.
They're Made out of Meat (2010)
In 2010, Jeff Frumess and Trevor Scott wrote and directed a slightly less faithful adaptation in black and white. It is set at a train station and involves two other characters not present in the original story. In this version, a homeless conspiracy theorist listens in on the main conversation, and a hapless bystander asks for the time and instead gets vaporized.
In 2015, musical producer Jose Hoffman created a song based on the story.
- Carbon chauvinism
- Fables for Robots (A collection of humorous short stories by Stanisław Lem where humans (and organic life in general) are looked upon in similar way)
- Bisson, Terry (April 1991). "They're Made Out of Meat". OMNI.
- Bisson, Terry. "They're Made out of Meat (play)". Terry Bisson SF Story Showcase. Archived from the original on 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- "Science Fiction Short Film Festival Winners Announced". Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. 2006-02-09. Archived from the original on 2006-04-12.
- Bisson, Terry. "They're Made out of Meat". Terry Bisson SF Story Showcase. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- Bisson, Terry (November 1993). Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories (1st (Hardcover) ed.). New York, NY: Tor. ISBN 978-0-312-85411-9.
- Boden, Margaret A. (2006). "16.v.d". Mind As Machine: A History of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. p. 1386. ISBN 0-19-929238-8. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
- Wolff, Milo (2003). "55: Cosmology, the Quantum Universe, and Electron Spin". In Richard L. Amoroso et al. (eds.). Gravitation and Cosmology: From the Hubble Radius to the Planck Scale. Fundamental Theories of Physics, Vol. 126. Netherlands: Springer. pp. 517–524. doi:10.1007/0-306-48052-2_55. ISBN 978-1-4020-0885-6.
- McGinn, Colin (May 1999). Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World. New York, NY: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-01422-4.