Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Book Four of The Seedling Stars (London, 1972) by James Blish, "Watershed," is an eleven page short story recounting three conversations on a spaceship bridge, yet it is a fitting culmination for this series about seeding the galaxy with Adapted Men.

It is a "spaceship story" as I defined these in a recent post although it ends with the ship still approaching the planet:

"...what was its name again? Oh yes, Earth." (p. 182)

The story's point, about the nature of humanity, has been made in the  conversations.

"Using pantropy, man has seized thousands of worlds that would have been inaccessible to him otherwise. It's enormously increased our chances to become masters of the galaxy..." (p. 185)

Any other imperialistic race will be outnumbered - as by now is the original human form. So much time has elapsed that Earth, now a desert planet, is to be seeded with Adapted Men. This is the "watershed." The basic type can no longer claim any superiority, either in numbers or in ownership of the original planet.

An Adapted pantropist comments that gas giants are not seeded because:

"'You cannot totally change the form without totally changing the thought processes...such worlds are the potential property of other races...'" (p. 190)

Policy makers in Poul Anderson's Terran Empire would agree because they sell Jupiter to the hydrogen-breathing Ymirites whereas the title character of Anderson's "Call Me Joe" would disagree because he is a human psyche beginning a second life in an artificially grown quadrupedal body on the Jovian surface.

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