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Author: H. Beam Piper
Published: 1962
Language: English
Wordcount: 14,527 / 49 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 87.3
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 3,704
Added to site: 2006.08.19 13801

Bishop Berkeley's famous question about the sound of a falling tree may have no standing in Science. But there is a highly interesting question about "sound" that Science needs to consider...

Show Excerpt

ber of native voices. There were over a hundred houses, all small and square, with pyramidal roofs. On the end of the mound toward the Terran camp, animals of at least four different species were crowded, cattle that had been herded up from the meadows at the first alarm. The open circle in the middle of the village was crowded, and more natives lined the low palisade along the edge of the mound.

"Well, we're going to stay here till we learn the language," Meillard was saying. "This is the best place for it. It's completely isolated, forests on both sides, and seventy miles to the nearest other village. If we're careful, we can stay here as long as we want to and nobody'll find out about us. Then, after we can talk with these people, we'll go to the big town."

* * * * *

The big town was two hundred and fifty miles down the valley, at the forks of the main river, a veritable metropolis of almost three thousand people. That was where the treaty would have to be negotiated.


Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 3.8 from 5 reviews: ****
JoJo Biggins

A pretty good story. Interesting, but not intriguing. Characters are pretty good, but not deep.

Terrans try to figure out how to communicate with aliens that just don\'t seem to hear things the way all other sentient beings do.

Sardo Weems

A first-contact story concerning communications with beings who hear and speak, but don\'t seem to convey information through set words.

Characterizations are nice, and Piper even allows women to do technical work. The plotting is good too. I\'m still trying to figure out whether I understand the ending enough to pass judgement on it.

Good story


Stories like this makes me wonder why H. Beam Piper is not up there with Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke as one of the GREATEST modern sci-fi authors.

Steve Bookworm

Mostly I agree with R. Stephan (previous review), however I think the final explanation is scientifically sound and quite original. Worth reading.

R Stephan

Typical pulp SF. While there is an interesting idea and some technological knowledge (speech recognition) behind this short contact story, it is not really worked out and the explanation at the end does not hold water. However, I won't spoil the fun by pointing out the exact flaws here.



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