23

I read this short story in a collection about 30 years ago but it might be older than that.

The main character has a "soup of the day" in his usual restaurant. He finds out it is mostly based on the content of a can. It is written on the label "other poultry" and "chicken". The maker of the content of the can happens to be there and befriends the main character. He even invites him to visit him. Curious about the "other poultry", the latter does go to the address of the can maker. There he finds a strange contraption which he realises to be a time-travel machine, when a very big bird approaches it, is trapped and brought inside. From the past, obviously, since it is a dodo !

Now this is definitely not the story The Ugly Chickens by Howard Waltrop which does not involve time-travel.

6
  • 1
    The story somewhat resembles Asimov's A statue for Father, but if it doesn't involve dinosaurs, it's not that one. Incidentally, dodo meat was often reported to be not very good.
    – LSerni
    Commented Jun 13 at 21:59
  • @LSerni My story does not involve dinosaurs, just dodos. And it is a story ! The taste of dodo meat in the real world is not really relevant...
    – Alfred
    Commented Jun 13 at 22:03
  • You've put several phrases and words into quote marks. Did the story literally use the phrase "ugly chickens" and "other poultry"?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 13 at 22:12
  • @Valorum In the title of my question, "ugly chickens" is my own reference to Waltrop's story. It does not appear at all in the story, which just mentions dodos. As for the ingredients, I don't remember the punctuation. I remember that the label of the can contains (chicken) and (other poultry). Whether the character, when he reads the label, puts these words between quotes marks or not, I am not sure. Whether the thoughts of main character, as written later, reuse the phrase (other poultry) or just muses about the ingredients on the label, again I am not sure.
    – Alfred
    Commented Jun 13 at 22:22
  • @user14111 Yes, in Englsih. chicken and other fowl were in the text.
    – Alfred
    Commented Jun 14 at 4:18

1 Answer 1

24

Full Chicken Richness by Avram Davidson. I read it in The Year's Best Science Fiction, First Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois.

The label on the can is:

But Rudolfo had never heard the rude English story about the pint of half-and-half, neither did Fred tell it to him. Rudolfo said, “I make a stock with the bones after making chickens sandwiches and I mix it with this.” He produced a large, a very large can, pushed it over to Fred. The label said. FULL CHICKEN RICHNESS Chicken-Type Soup.

“Whah-haht?” asked Fred, half-laughing. He read on. Ingredients: Water, Other Poultry and Poultry Parts, Dehydrated Vegetables, Chickens and Chicken Parts, seasoning … the list dribbled off into the usual list of chemicals. The label also said, Canned for Restaurant and Institutional Usement.

The story ends:

That other room was partly crammed with an insane assortment of machinery and allied equipment, compared to which Don Eliseo’s more perfect make-and-bake tortilla engine, with its affinities to the perpetual motion invention of one’s choice, was simplicity. The thing stood naked for Fred’s eyes, but his eyes told him very little: wires snaked all around, that much he could say.

There was a not-quite-click, a large television screen flickered on. No. Whatever it was at the room’s end, sitting flush to the floor with a low, chicken-wire fence around it, it was not television, not even if Abelardo had started from scratch as though there had been no television before. The quality of the “image” was entirely different, for one thing; and the color, for another, was wrong … and wrong in the way that no TV color he had ever seen had been wrong.

He reached to touch the screen, there was no “screen,” it was as though his hand met a surface of unyielding gelatin. The non-screen, well, what the hell, call it a screen, was rather large, but not gigantically so. He was looking at a savannah somewhere, and among the trees were palms and he could not identify the others. A surf pounded not far off, but he could not hear it. There was no sound. He saw birds flying in and out of the trees. Looking back, he saw something else.

A trail of broken bread through the room, right up to the, mmm, screen. A silent breeze now and then rifled grass, and something moved in the grass to one side. He stepped back, slightly. What the hell could it mean? Then the something which was in the grass to one side stepped, stiff-legged, into full view, and there was another odd, small sound as the thing—it was a bird—lurched through the screen and began to gobble bread.

Hopkins watched, dry-mouthed. Crumb by crumb it ate. Then there was no more bread. It doddled up to the low fence, doddled back. It approached the screen, it brushed the screen, there was a Rube Goldberg series of motions in the external equipment, a sheet of chicken wire slid noisily down to the floor. The bird had been trapped.

Fred got down and peered into the past till his eyes and neck grew sore, but he could not see one more bird like it. He began to laugh and cry simultaneously. Then he stood up. “Inevitable,” he croaked, throwing out his arms. “Inevitable! Demand exceeded supply!”

The bird looked up at him with imbecile, incurious eyes, and opened its incredible beak. “Doh-do,” it said, halfway between a gobble and a coo. “Doh-do. Doh-do.”

On searching the SFFSE I find that, although it isn't a duplicate, the story was mentioned in the description of What is the other (besides Davidson’s ‘Full Chicken Richness’) SF story (pre 1998) centred on dodos?

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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