K. TEMPEST BRADFORD
K. Tempest Bradford’s fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Electric Velocipede, Podcastle, and Strange Horizons. In addition to writing, she’s worked in the editorial trenches of several magazines, and is currently the managing editor for Fantasy Magazine.
Bradford says that she’s an “un-fan” of how SF on television and film often depicts each alien race as a monoculture. “When characters go to alien planets, they generally deal with one government, one group of people, one culture, as if that planet is made up of one huge, happy group who work together and have no internal differences,” she said.
So she started thinking about what it would be like if the aliens that came here had the same problems we have—fighting between groups and cultures and such. “I also thought it would be nice to show that they wouldn’t necessarily come to America first,” she said. “Or, if they did, it wouldn’t be because they think we’re superior.”
I didn’t pay much attention to the aliens at first. Oh, if you mean like that first week, then yeah, we were scared and hiding and shit like everyone else. But once the whole thing calmed down and everything went back to normal I didn’t spend that much time thinking about them.
It’s all well and good to come down from space and promise you can fix the ozone or whatever, but any group of people—aliens, sorry—that come to this planet and start out by talking to our government have to be seriously doubted. All the countries on all the continents and they think we’re the most likely to care about cleaning up the environment? Ha ha, yeah right.
Anyway, like I said, after that first scare I didn’t pay a lot of attention to them. Not like my daughter with her t-shirts and webpages and all that. My little corner of the world wasn’t going to change.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a head-in-the-sand kind of guy. I read newspapers from all over on my Google News. I knew about how other countries were mad that those—whatchacall’em? . . . By-er-nam-yan? Yeah—them Byernamian aliens were making deals with us like America has some kind of power to decide stuff for the whole planet. Thing is, no matter how many threats they make, I live in Mason fucking Ohio. Nothing ever happens here until it’s happened somewhere else at least five times. Aliens or not, I still have to be at work on Monday and take my son to karate on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It got really messed up when the other aliens came, though. The other ones. You know, the ah . . . Deb . . . Debachhhk—whatever. I can’t make that sound—neither can anyone on CNN. My wife and I call them the African Aliens because they have that weird head shape.
I was pulling an all-nighter here at the store—correcting the bedroom set inventory my stupid nephew screwed up—when I heard Nelson Mandela on the radio announcing that he’d been negotiating with aliens too, and that they were from the same planet as the Byerwhosits but a different tribe or somethin’. And you know that it was no mistake that shit was broadcast when it was 4 A.M. here.
Now see, that was when I started paying attention. Cuz those first aliens had promised to do something about global warming, but here the African Aliens come to tell us that they were lying. Flat out. Those Byernams don’t even have access to the technology. And here we’d given them, what, half of the global soy crop already? For nothing?
I tell you though, even though they freak me out a little, I gotta respect those African Aliens. They deal with Mandela and the Dalai Lama and only them two. They did their homework before showing up here. Mandela and the Lama are the only two guys on the planet I would trust not to screw everybody else over. Of course, my wife is pissed that they don’t have a woman in there, too. Knowing her, she’d probably want it to be Oprah.
Hey look, all I’m sayin’ is that if the African Aliens are as powerful as they say they are, then I want someone with a little global perspective negotiating with them. This new President, he’s got his head on straight, yeah. But he has enough to deal with, cleaning up after the last administration. A messed up economy, the Constitution used for toilet paper, all that crap about torture—you know, almost every other country hated us before President Dipshit made that bad deal, now they all do. Maybe Mandela and the Lama can fix the mess he made without starting another damn war.
Then again, if the Byernamers hadn’t made such a big show of making first contact in the middle of the Super Bowl halftime show, the government probably wouldn’t have ever told us about them or the soy deal. We’d be just as clueless as the Chinese were—and don’t tell me you weren’t floored when that bit came out about Mao being in contact with that other other tribe of aliens. 50 years ago and no one knew for all this time! I can’t believe that dude is still alive somewhere out in space.
And you notice how quick the Chinese got their asses out of Tibet after the Dalai Lama talked about it on Al Jazeera? Makes me wonder what else they don’t want us to know.
No, you know what, it makes me worry. All these different aliens showing up and putting us in the middle of their fights that’ve been going on for centuries? Something tells me we won’t come out ahead no matter what we do. We had enough problems of our own before any of them showed up. Now we have to deal with international and inter . . . space relations. Who has the right to talk to who and negotiate what and all else. And we still have global warming!
The aliens don’t care, though. They’re too busy fighting. It’s like what they came here to get out of us is secondary—they still have to learn how to get on with each other.
You know, I used to think that the best part of space travel would be getting away from folk you can’t stand. Just put all your people on a spaceship and go. What’s the use if you all just end up in the same places arguing over the same ol’ shit?
So no, I’m not letting my daughter sign up for that colony thing the African Aliens are setting up. She just turned sixteen, and thank God for that parental consent requirement. This whole “cultural exchange” thing to fix global warming, it just doesn’t sit right. What do they need with a million people? To go off to some planet and do what? For who? We won’t even be able to communicate with them for five years. I don’t think so. Not my daughter.
We should have been solving our own problems instead of counting on some damn handout from the sky. So you know what? I told her no. Don’t make the same mistakes they did, I said. It’ll just be the same shit, different planet. And if you have to deal with the same old shit no matter where you go, so you might as well stay right here and do it at home.
Yeah, she’s mad at me now, but she’ll have other chances. Won’t be long before all the other aliens out there show up. A billion stars in the sky? There’s got to be more than just three kinds.