Primitive Aliens Encountering a Laptop

“I have a suggestion,” said Scriber. His voice was slurred from the effort of concentrating over Scrupilo’s thoughts. “When you touch the four/three square and say”—he made the alien sounds; they were all very easy to do—“the screen shows a collection of pictures. They seem to match the squares. I think we … we are being given choices.”

Hm. “The box could end up training us.” If this is a machine, we need some new definitions. “ … Very well, let’s play with it.”

Three hours passed. Toward the end, even Vendacious had moved a member nearer the screen; the noise in the room verged on mindless chaos. And everybody had suggestions; “say that,” “press this,” “last time it said that, we did thus and so.” There were intricate colored designs, sprinkled with things that must have been written language. Tiny, two-legged figures scampered across the screen, shifting the symbols, opening little windows … . Scriber Jaqueramaphan’s idea was quite right. The first pictures were choices. But some of those led to further pictures of choices. The options spread out—tree-like, Scriber said. He wasn’t quite right; sometimes they came back to an earlier point; it was a metaphorical network of streets. Four times they ended in cul de sacs and had to shut the box and begin again. Vendacious was madly drawing maps of the paths. That would help; there were places they would want to see again. But even he realized there were unnumbered other paths, places that blind exploration would never find.

And Woodcarver would have given a good part of her soul for the pictures she had already seen. There were starscapes. There were moons that shone blue and green, or banded orange. There were moving pictures of alien cities, of thousands of aliens so close that they were actually touching. If they ran in packs, those packs were bigger than anything in the world, even in the tropics … . And maybe the question was irrelevant; the cities were beyond anything she ever imagined.

Finally Jaqueramaphan backed off. He huddled together. There was a shiver in his voice. “T-there’s a whole universe in there. We could follow it forever, and never know … .”


Vinge describes a clan of alien wolflike being with mideval technology encountering a computer carried by a human alien visitor.

Folksonomies: technology magic

Primitive Aliens Encountering (0.936342 (neutral:0.000000)), human alien visitor (0.920240 (neutral:0.000000)), intricate colored designs (0.809996 (positive:0.371270)), Scriber Jaqueramaphan (0.677853 (positive:0.431654)), alien sounds (0.654530 (positive:0.277430)), Laptop Vinge (0.634951 (neutral:0.000000)), mideval technology (0.615422 (neutral:0.000000)), Scrupilo’s thoughts (0.611099 (negative:-0.658063)), mindless chaos (0.594658 (negative:-0.601409)), unnumbered other paths (0.590157 (neutral:0.000000)), training us. (0.587622 (positive:0.218152)), cul de sacs (0.585293 (negative:-0.335378)), alien cities (0.582003 (neutral:0.000000)), metaphorical network (0.581090 (positive:0.403414)), new definitions (0.580011 (neutral:0.000000)), two-legged figures (0.576192 (negative:-0.336225)), little windows (0.575378 (negative:-0.309344)), pictures (0.574058 (positive:0.091708)), earlier point (0.570268 (neutral:0.000000)), options spread (0.569643 (neutral:0.000000)), blind exploration (0.559516 (negative:-0.517394)), choices (0.496409 (positive:0.372393)), screen (0.450663 (negative:-0.336225)), voice (0.406550 (negative:-0.658063)), box (0.401555 (negative:-0.117226)), packs (0.391726 (neutral:0.000000)), starscapes (0.378886 (neutral:0.000000)), shiver (0.370502 (neutral:0.000000)), suggestion (0.369135 (neutral:0.000000)), Woodcarver (0.364558 (negative:-0.202646))

Alien (0.918658): website | dbpedia | freebase
Thought (0.881565): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Science fiction film (0.793014): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
The Alien (0.783200): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Fire Upon the Deep
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Vinge , Vernor (2011-08-01), Fire Upon the Deep, Tor Books, Retrieved on 2012-01-03
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: fiction science fictino