This was a pretty dark old short story but also a psychedelic affair.

By "old" I mean that I must have read it in the mid-80s, in an A-4 sized anthology of Sci-Fi. While the text was German, I'm sure it was a translation of an US or UK author's work. There were a couple of black & white illustrations, one of which was Gauguin in front of one of his works, in discussion with a visitor in an interlude scene which apparently was taking place in the afterlife.

Humanity has found that it is divided into two separate races which have different thinking patterns. One is rational, prefers patriarchy and tends to Sun worship. The other is dreamlike, prefers matriarchy and tends to Moon worship. The differences between the races cannot be reconciled and repeated wars are a natural outcome. Indeed, war is the current predicament. The rational ones have shut down their ethical voices; a secret project to implement the Final Solution has been researched a way to target the dreamlike ones' differently wired cerebellum directly (really nasty indeed) and weapons based on this have been implemented.

The plan is about to be set in motion (I have the image of an aircraft looking like a porcupine taking off in my mind) but is foiled by a psychedelic End-of-Evangelion style event whereby Yggdrasil grows out of the ground and snags the aircraft in its branches. I don't know what the significance of the ending was supposed to be. Probably that the Moon worshippers were right!

As mentioned, there was also some interlude where someone visits Gauguin in the afterlife. Apparently to have a philosophical discussion with the artist (?)

  • 3
    Got it. I didn't find the book, but I remembered another story therein with the text "Manche stürzen unsichtbar aus den höchsten Reichen der Luft" (Some pounce, invisible, out of air's highest reaches), which google-resolves to the title of a short story by Keith Roberts which appears in Tor zu den Sternen, an anthology of 1981, which contains a translation of The Fall of Species B by Brian Aldiss. That must be it. Nov 8, 2018 at 21:11
  • Great! Now add that as a self-answer, accept it and we're all sorted.
    – Valorum
    Nov 8, 2018 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


After some Internet-assisted research I have found out that this story is "Drei Rätsel der Evolution" ("Three Evolutionary Enigmas"). It is a story in three parts, written by Brian Aldiss, in 1980. isfb lists it as "Three Revolutionary Enigmas", which is not quite right.

Translated to German by Tony Westermayr, it appeared in a paperback A4 anthology by publisher Goldmann, titled "Tor zu den Sternen" ("Gateway to the Stars") late in 1981 (at the price of 20 DM, i.e. 10 EUR today).

This was a special anthology whereby non-German writers would submit text that would be published in German even before the English version would be published. So the German translation of "Three Evolutionary Enigmas" appeared in print before the English original.

The story is divided as follows:

  1. Der Untergang der Gattung B ("The Fall of Species B")
  2. In den Hallen des Jenseits ("In the Halls of the Hereafter")
  3. Das archaische Heim des Geistes ("The Ancestral Home of Thought")


Three Evolutionary Enigmas

The Fall of Species B

It is zero dark thirty. John Stang is a war reporter. He is sitting in a tank driving to an airstrip, along with a bunch of troopers. He will accompany a mission to "bomb brown people and Allah worshippers back to the stone age" (Sergeant's words), using new weapons designed that attack the nervous system of the enemy directly (KLEWA - Kleinhirnwaffen, sounds like "clever", literally means "Cerebellum weapons"). The soldiers around him are brutish, unkempt, sexually frustrated, the atmosphere is Mordorian. The plane is a semi-biological entity covered in hair, dripping effluents. As the troops board the plane, a mystery figure appears from the shadows, telling Stang: "There is another way", which confuses him greatly.

While the plane is taking off and the troops are being whipped into a killing frenzy against the browns, Stang mentally rips himself apart thinking about the polarization of human nature (male/female, Sun/Moon, rational/dreamlike) and how catastrophe is near (the words Yin and Yang are not used but it's evidently a situation where Yang has decided to get rid of Yin once and for all). Then the Sergeant calls out to the soldiers over the intercom: A traitor is on board - shoot at sight. His name is Jesus Christ. And Jesus is called upon to reveal himself.

Stang, animated by something stronger than himself, gets up and towers over the troops. Gripping the intestinal tubing of flying pig, he fills everything with light. "There is another way". Some soldiers, too dehumanized to show surprise, shoot at him, but to no effect. His form, now female, grows to immense proportions and becomes a Tree reaching to the Moon.

In the Halls of the Hereafter

Barnes Atarver has won a prize: he can visit visit a dead person of his choice. He decides to visit Paul Gauguin. (The idea of talking to the dead is very Aldissian.) Atarver lives two hundred years after Gauguin, "in the 51st year of the Kayyranarth" (Google has zero hits). This takes place presumably some time before The Fall of Species B.

During the conversation, it is revealed that humanity is split: Cro-Magnon, the rational brute, and Neanderthal, the dreamlike savage, are antithetical beings. The innocence of Cro-Magnon, i.e. the White Race, makes him insufferable, obsessed with tooling, steel and war. It is the consequence of an enlarged Neocortex. Gauguin much prefers Tahitians, descendants of Neanderthal (well, this is not anthropology). It is they who are the Real Humans. While Gauguin materializes gigantic portraits of sexually attractive Thaitians out of the surrounding space, he proposes that the only solution to avert complete destruction is to merge Yin and Yang into a single Ying, merge the world into a single hybrid sexual organ. But then it is time for Atarver to leave for the world of the living again.

The Ancestral Home of Thought

The scene takes place at the same time as The Fall of Species B. A bunker set in a desolate place, at night. It is home to a laboratory where scientists work on Project Vercore (No reference found, except to a 16th century composer). The lab is situated "1506 m above sea level" on a high plateau (maybe indicating that it is near Thika, Kenya).

Mervyn Widdowson and Jay Ling are drinking coffee and talking about war news. Stockholm has been taking by the "Sickle" (a reference to the Soviets I would think). A bit later, as Mervyn is indulging in some heavy movie violence (this scene revealed something about Mervyn's mental health as movie violence was not nearly as prevalent in 1980 as it is today) he's called up by his boss, Neil Teilbard.

Neil wants to have a midnight talk about Project Vercore. Mervyn thinks it is an enormous project about population statistics. Indeed Neil starts by talking about the results: that the project has shown that there are two fundamentally different types of human. First, those with dominant Neocortex, and then those with dominant Cerebellum. The large Neocortex, proper to western people indicates propensity to rational though. The large Cerebellum, proper to non-westerns, means irrationality and dream-driven behaviour. The photos shown make Mervyn reflect that the Neocortex looks like a parasite, a mushroom feeding on a healthy animal.

After Mervyn remands Neil that he is dabbling in dangerous racism, he is invited for The Talk outside the bunker. Neil reveals that the scientific evidence shows that Humanity is separated into two species, A, and B. A came out of Africa, occupied the Middle East, the Far East and the Americas. B later out of India moving West. A and B cannot peacefully live together. War is a natural consequence of the differing thinking patterns and wars are increasing in intensity. Worse, B is being rapidly bred out by A and its promiscuous behaviour. The rational action is to eradicate A as soon as possible, and this is what Vercore is all about. Mervyn is horrified that anyone would think about killing 3/4 of the human population. Neil is as horrified as Mervyn - but facts are facts. The Final Solution was the right approach: Jews being a mixture of A and B, cannot be trusted. Jay, being A, has to go too. Everything has been prepared - nationalism and war fever will make the undertaking possible. Discriminating weapons targeting the Cerbellum have been developed in highest secrecy (only the President and his close advisors have been informed). Diplomatic contact has been established with the Sickle, which is actually B, to gang up against Asia, Africa and other A-specific regions.

Mervyn completely loses it, kills his superior and begins to rant in the night. He is soon surrounded by guards. As their close in, they are interrupted by the light of the appearance of the immensely growing Cosmic Female Tree which finally merges Earth and Sky.

The story does not seem to have been re-edited or translated into anything other than German. isfdb lists it as appearing in "Best of Aldiss" in 1983 and in the magazine "New Pathways Into Science Fiction and Fantasy" in May 1989 only. For a "Best of", that is astonishing.

Bonus: The idea of the Cerebellum as center of Consciousness also appears in Frank Herbert's "Destination Void" (1965). Actual Cerebellum function seems to be general purpose supervised learning. (Hey, I am B, ok?)


Further research reveals that the story appears in rewritten form on pages 303-334 in:

Common Clay -- 20-Odd Stories

Copyright 1995 by Brian W. Aldiss.

First published in Great Britain under the title "The Secret of This Book" by Harper Collins Publishers.

First U.S. Edition March 1996, St. Martin's Press, New York.


Her Toes Were Beautiful on the Mountains

Three Enigmas:

  • Another Way Than Death
  • That Particular Green of Obsequies
  • The Ancestral Home of Thought

...with a postscript praising Paul Gaugin (an maybe the New Wave movement). Here is an excerpt:

When Gaugin propounded this doctrine of expressionism, it was revolutionary; small wonder his work was slow to be accepted. Even surrounded by the savage beauty of Tahiti, he advocated drawing not from nature but from those things that are inward to us. 'My artistic centre is in my head ... I am not a painter who works from nature. With me, everything happens in my wild imagination.' His paintings bear out what he says.

Even today, Gaugin's principle is not widely accepted though it forms the basis for much creative work. We can all share in our outwardness, in the grandeur and havoc of our times: it's the inward thing where true exploration lies.

  • 1
    ...what a strange story.
    – Sora2455
    May 27 at 5:32

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