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Decades ago I read a short story in an anthology where one of the first human exploration ships was out traveling to another star system when an extremely advanced alien space ship basically pulled them over to make first contact.

The aliens were extremely arrogant at first and telling the humans to stay in their own little area until eventually it came out that they were suspiciously similar genetically to humanity. And that humans had in fact evolved from the waste products one of the aliens ships had dumped on Earth way back.

The aliens then immediately ran away for unknown reasons. Humanity tried to follow them only to find that the aliens were completely avoiding them to the point of evacuating entire colonies. They eventually run into a different species that tells them that because of the aliens own laws anything derived from them is afforded specific rights. Rights that the aliens really don't want to give humans.

The humans eventually take the case to inter galactic court and basically win an extreme version of child support.

The final reveal is that the narrator of the whole story had no stake in the process because it was a robot the entire time and didn't evolve at all.

I believe it was one of those old pulp stories that Baen collected and published as anthologies. But I've read through all the ones I have access to and can't find it so that might be entirely wrong.

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  • Life on earth evolved from alien trash in "Testament" by Vincent King, but otherwise it's a completely different story.
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 24 at 6:19
  • This story sounds familiar- were there multiple subspecies of humans in it?
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 24 at 11:28
  • The idea has been discussed here before but with no mentions of a story matching the one you remember. Commented Jan 24 at 11:48
  • @Andrew You may be thinking of "Big Ancestor" by F. L. Wallace. It's not the story the OP is looking for, but it also features an embarrassing origin for the human races.
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 24 at 12:53
  • Thank you - that was what I was thinking of (and you're right, it doesn't match what's being sought here)
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 24 at 15:40

1 Answer 1

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I eventually found this as I was reading through my collection of old anthologies. It's Fortitude by David Brin. First published in 1996. The version I read was in the Worst Contact anthology.

In this interview, Brin says:

In my story “Fortitude” I explore the possibility that the “Pre-Cambrian Explosion” of multi-cellular life on Earth—a rather sudden event—might have come from a visiting spacecraft dumping their toilet….

I wasn't aware that I would have to provide evidence that it was the answer to my own question. Here's an additional matching point.

It did them no good in the long run. Eventually, we made contact with the august, honest Kutathi, the judges, who admitted our petition before them.

The galactic equivalent of a cosmo-biological paternity suit.

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  • Can you explain how this story matches the one in the question?
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 20 at 10:10
  • 1
    thehorrorzine.com/Special/DavidBrin/Brin.html "DAVID: In my story “Fortitude” I explore the possibility that the “Pre-Cambrian Explosion” of multi-cellular life on Earth—a rather sudden event—might have come from a visiting spacecraft dumping their toilet…."
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 20 at 12:04

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