10

I probably read this story 20 years ago. I only remember random details about it. The protagonist is a heavily modified human and he is conducting first contact with an alien species on their planet. I believe they were doglike in their description. They perform shows and the like for him (which he finds silly). He worries or wonders about if he will have to call his Soldier equivalents to annihilate them (the Soldiers may be called "Shrikes"). He ponders that the Soldier equivalents are barely even human from his perspective. He definitely looks down on the aliens. His ship has a station or pod or something that performs as both a mother and a lover role for the protagonist. I believe he mentions that it has multiple breasts.

1
  • If you agree with an answer, please confirm it by clicking on the check mark. May 29 at 14:59

1 Answer 1

15

This reminds me in many respects of Dinosaurs, a short story by Walter John Williams, first published in 1988.

The central character, named Drill, is a posthuman diplomat "the ultimate product of nine million years of human evolution". His task is to make diplomatic contact with a relatively primitive race called the Shar. Humanity have been sending out terraforming ships, and inadvertently they have begun assimulating Shar worlds, resulting in the losses of billions of their lives.

The humans have become extremely specialised. In particular, in agreement with the question, the Warrior castes are called Shrikes:

Our terraforming Ships are very good at what they do," Drill said. "They are specialists. Our Shrikes, our Shrews, our Sharks‑-each is a master of its element. But they lack intelligence. They are not conscious entities, such as ourselves. They weren't aware of your civilization at all. They only saw you as food."

On board his ship is a barely sentient creature called "Surrogate" that Drill uses for sexual pleasure:

It was a human subspecies... designed to comfort voyagers on long journeys through space, when carnal access to their own subspecies might necessarily be limited. Surrogate had a variety of sexual equipment designed for the accommodation of the various human subspecies and their sexes. It also had large mammaries that gave nutritious milk, and a rudimentary head capable of voicing simple thoughts.

Drill is at first successful in calming the Shar politicians, but is bemused at their primitive emotional responses to his statements. He indeed monitors their broadcasts, but rather than finding them silly, he finds them "delightful".

In the end things turn bad when a Shar vessel destroys an Earth terraforming ship. Unfortunately

the responses of the humans have become so automatic that this will result in the total destruction on the Shars.

5
  • Also the unaccepted answer to this old question scifi.stackexchange.com/q/23407/28516 and accepted here scifi.stackexchange.com/q/175599/28516 May 29 at 11:51
  • Thank you! I could remember everything about this story except the title. :)
    – DavidW
    May 29 at 12:04
  • @DavidW please mark the answer as accepted by clicking on the check sign.
    – jo1storm
    May 29 at 18:31
  • Weird - I had no idea that Walter John Williams had a group of aliens called the "Shar" before the Dread Empires Fall series, which kicks off with the death of the last "Shaa". Wonder why he has used basically the same name twice. May 29 at 23:19
  • Clara, thank you so much! That's definitely it
    – Rob
    May 30 at 0:59

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.