View Full Version : Dweedles To Mission Control

April 29th, 2015, 07:03 PM
First Message To Planet X

You must have received and digested the information I sent by tachyonic transfer. Sorry I had to work back to front by sending the appendices first. I judged it best to do this, as it eliminates the need for numerous explanatory asides. I shall henceforth use Earth terminology, now surely familiar to you.

It would be beneficial if I were able to present a complete report in one transmission, but you will understand that my resources preclude this. I am forced to decide whether to keep you waiting a long time for the whole story, or to send relatively short missives via the accelerated route, which makes heavy demands of my equipment and necessitates frequent recharging.

I have chosen the second course, so might need to interrupt my offerings at tantalising moments. This would be appreciated by certain humans here – more on them later – who are addicted to being left gasping in anticipation of what is to come in further episodes of whatever serialised entertainment engrosses them. Also, commenting this way obviates any need for possibly misleading epitomisation. I know I am thought of as garrulous, but you don’t have a competent journalist who can match my ability to cruise the Cosmos, right? What would you do without me?

Now, I have been swanning around here for about a century in local terms. How do I convey my experiences? The length of time I have spent here indicates that there must be something to say, or I would not have used a twentieth of my likely current lifespan hovering around a place so remote from home. I have done so because my arrival coincided with rapid developments here.

You will have gathered that this planet has a slightly shorter year than ours, but is strikingly similar with regard to gravity, atmosphere, temperature, water/land distribution, and in having a single unusually large satellite. The Earth is rather younger than our home base and is at present less stable. Still, it is the first body I have found that has conditions broadly approximating to our needs. It would be a tolerable location for our expected overspill, but I must say that anyone moved from home and deposited here would face some uncertainties.

This planet has for aeons experienced upheaval by way of meteorite bombardments, some of which have changed living conditions quite drastically. Being in a fairly quiet quarter of our own galaxy, we have not had to contend with mountain-sized chunks of space debris striking us at many thousands of kilometres an hour. From what I have gathered, this kind of thing disrupts life here for long periods. We could cope, but there would be difficulties.

As if extra-terrestrial intrusions were not enough, the Earth itself throws up some problems by way of volcanic eruptions, grinding tectonic plates, huge ocean waves and goodness knows what else. This place is not for the squeamish. Survival here is a precarious matter, made more so by the activities of humankind – hold your collective breath for the grisly details.

Please don’t excite yourselves about the geography here, as it changes constantly – excuse the apparent oxymoron. The current continental profile arose from a break-up – about 200 million years ago – of a vast land mass called Pangaea, which split into Laurasia in the North and Gondwanaland in the South. No need for us to worry about this, as there will be further movements, with which we could cope.

Now, my batteries register almost empty, so forgive the pause. By the way, I think you should try to get your heads around this communication thing. After all, we are supposed to be quite advanced, aren’t we? It shouldn’t be left to me to tell our boffins what is required. I will resume contact as means permit.

All the best to everyone.


Note to the reader: Don’t be deceived by this quiet start. There’s dynamite on the track ahead, as the exchanges between Dweedles and those pesky types at Mission Control become acrimonious. Does the lonely voyager need a shrink? What will happen when love comes in? Another griping (oops) instalment soon. Editor

* * *

May 2nd, 2015, 06:57 PM
First Reply From Planet X To Emissary

Dear Dweedles

Your initial report duly received, as were the appendices, which are of truly intolerable length, this being the first of the bones we have to pick with you. Was it really necessary to send us such a bundle of bumf? You are excessively verbose, so it is no wonder you encounter battery trouble, which we hardly need point out has cost implications. Please note that the expense account for your jaunt is not unlimited. You have been away for two hundred years (Earth time) and what do we have to show for this but one planet that just might do? Maybe the long time you have spent alone has affected your thought processes.

As for the observations concerning your supposed indispensability, be advised that we have a couple of trainees who could give you a run for your money in the matter of hopping around the galaxies via cosmic wormholes. Nobody has exclusive possession of such skills. You may be interested to learn that as a final test in astronavigation, these two cadets took a short journey to a star twenty-odd light-years from here and returned safely to us, three days before their trip started. That’s what we call travelling.

You will see that your query concerning what we would do without you was injudicious, as it caused us to consider that question. Oh dear, perhaps you have tripped over your tongue, which would not be a surprise, considering the length of that organ.

Kindly let us have more details, and in doing so, remember that we are not occupied solely by a growing population here. Our star is warming up and we are experiencing some discomfort. There is an element of urgency.

Keep up the mediocre work.

Best wishes from Mission Control

* * *

Watch out for a sharp reaction from Dweedles

May 6th, 2015, 06:53 PM
Second Message To Planet X

Being back to full transmitting strength, I must start by taking issue with your snide comments concerning my performance. You were aware of my verbosity before sending me into the void, so don’t carp now. I have found one more or less suitable planet and that’s better than none, right? Nobody knew the odds when I set out, so what frame of reference do you have for making judgements?

Regarding my value to the cause, I am forced to laugh when thinking of the two trainees you believe might fill my shoes. I am acquainted with both of them and well aware that neither could negotiate the diagonal of an average living room without following a paper trail. Get with it, folks. You need a galactonaut like me and we don’t grow on trees.

Notwithstanding your harsh words, I will continue to report, though with reduced enthusiasm. Even a superficial examination of the Earth clarified that what is significant to us is the land. Initially I gave brief consideration to the seas, as one naturally does when facing a body comprising over 70% water. There are aquatic creatures here with mental faculties somewhat akin to those of their closest counterparts on terra firma, but advanced as they may be in social interactions, few water-based organisms reach beyond their normal element. Some have large brains, but here it is noteworthy that the relationship between cerebral capacity and body size is important, This explains why human beings (for details see the appendices I sent earlier) have come to the fore.

The local star, the Sun, is an average one, about halfway through its likely lifetime, so it has roughly 5,000 million years still to go. However, the Earth will become uninhabitable for its current life forms, and for us, long before the star expires. I would say there are about 800 million tolerable years left.

Astronomers here have identified eight major planets and one dwarf one in their solar system. There is also a wide scattering of debris – probably a failed planet -between Mars and Jupiter, plus a few similar odds and ends elsewhere, and a number of satellites. The outer bodies would not be of any use to us, but in addition to the Earth, two other inner rocky ones, Venus and Mars, could be adapted to our needs, though I think that in both cases the effort would be too great. The Earth is the only reasonable candidate.

This planet is believed to be about 4,600 million years of age, and research suggests that complex life really got going only about 600 million years ago. The dominant species is, as indicated above, humankind. I shall have more to say about these creatures later. Among them are those who believe that the Earth – and they -appeared, ready made so to speak, on a particular day about 6,000 years ago, and that a creator was responsible for this. Make what you will of that. I do not intend to debate the question of a supreme being.

Unlike our androgynous species, humans have two genders – a common feature here – so procreation is normally a cooperative male/female effort. There is an overlap of sorts, with some people attracted to others of their own sex. I hear this applies to about 3% of the population, but I have not made any effort to confirm that.

Before I forget, let me address your implication that I may have been away from you too long. This led me to think that my absence might not yet have been long enough. A further ‘stretch of solitary’ – do you like the prison jargon? – sometimes seems more attractive to me than does the idea of rejoining you. I am tempted to disable my reverse gear, thus scuppering the prospect of a return trip. That’s a joke, folks. Or is it?

I have other goodies to offer, but owing to your failure to supply me with means befitting my task, I must close for a while. That will give you a chance to do a little more sniping before I can recharge my equipment. By the way, I note that our home star is warming faster than expected. Well, that’s another one for the eggheads, isn’t it? Why do we give them rewards beyond the dreams of avarice when they can’t predict stellar evolution? I repeat that I intend to keep up the work you so nastily describe as mediocre. Would anyone else care to be in my position? No, I thought not.

Yours as cordially as possible in the circumstances


* * *

May 9th, 2015, 07:00 PM
Second Reply From Planet X To Emissary

Dear Dweedles

Your second message received. We will not dwell on your disparaging comments about us. They are inappropriate and probably attributable to your long period of isolation – we are not unsympathetic, you know. Everyone here appreciates that you are one of a kind, the only question being whether it is the right kind – no offence intended. Let us waltz over your prima donna stuff and get to the nitty-gritty.

We have been studying the way you chart your movements. Dweedie, there are such things as spacetime co-ordinates. Is it really necessary for you to approach an unfamiliar galaxy with such comments as ‘a bit to the left’ and ‘large blobs at two o’clock high’? Do you remember nothing of your training at our Nautical And Space Academy – NASA, in case the acronym eludes you?

Do not underestimate the trainees we mentioned. Both have graduated with honours and could locate you in a trice if necessary – a possibility that is always under review here. This isn’t rocket science, Dwee. Well, actually it is, but you know what we mean. Anyway, don’t attempt to rise above your station.

The temperature here is still rising inexorably and several lakes and rivers have dried up. Because our axial tilt is similar to that of the planet you are surveying, we are experiencing a drift towards the mountainous polar regions, where there is some relief from the heat at times.

One consequence of this migration is that property prices in the high latitudes are soaring. We note that your residence is at 65 degrees North, so if you would like us to make a killing on your behalf by selling it for you and stashing the loot in your bank account, please let us know. You see, despite your insubordinate attitude we do care about you – sort of. However, we wonder sometimes what on earth we are to do with you – or to put it another way, what we are to do with you on Earth. Just a little pun.

Kindly let us have further news, and do make an effort to be brief. You might be interested to note that the latest nickname for you here is Chatsworth. Another merry quip. Do you get it?

Passably sincere greetings from everyone at Mission Control.

* * *

May 13th, 2015, 06:52 PM
Third Message To Planet X

Thanks – hardly the right word but never mind – for the snotty response to my second report. Dear me, we are touchy, aren’t we? I must be careful where I tread, as the sound of crunching corns is audible across the void. Still, I shall do my best, though I feel compelled to raise again the matter of the supposedly redoubtable pair of astrosleuths you have in mind to hunt me down. It’s bad enough that you need two, but couldn’t you have done better? I quake at the thought that they might have been activated when I had that breakdown in Andromeda. But for my foresight in taking along an adjustable spanner and a roll of adhesive tape, you would have been seeking me to this day. Don’t let those two dimwits out even together, let alone solo. They’re not up to it.

I don’t wish to go on too long about the dopey duo, but let me say that Dworkles needs a ball of string to get back home from the office – an epic journey of half a kilometre – while in the case of Dwindles – what an appropriate name – the only thing that has diminished is the intellect, which started at zero, then declined. I heard that the terrible twosome colluded in an examination involving multiple-choice questions. Among other howlers, they selected ‘our historic move to socialism’ as a definition of redshift and ‘stellar-powered central heating’ as a solar system. I’d hate to think of this brace of dumbos getting lost in some asinine attempt to clap me in irons, and can imagine your chagrin at having to appeal to me to find them. I’ll try to avoid mentioning this again, but give no guarantee.

By the way, I’d like to know why we are all pigeon-holed at birth by the first two letters in our names, in my case DW, signifying a space traveller. If you really want to know, I would have chosen to be an architect, but nobody ever asked me, right? When thinking of the designs I could have produced, I cry like a baby, especially when I combine the thought with musings on how I have wrenched my guts in repeated – apparently vain – efforts to satisfy you.

I haven’t much to report because I gave you a great deal of information in the appendices I sent earlier – another effort for which you didn’t embarrass me with thanks. However, I will offer a few words about how the human male/female relationship has functioned. Historically, the usual tendency has been for males to wander and for females to stay at home, so the former have usually been the ones to make first contact with others of their kind. Unfortunately, too many of these meetings have been collisions rather than civilised encounters.

There is some debate here as to whether the story would have been different if the females, who seem more disposed to cooperation rather than confrontation, had been the ones to venture out. One cannot say, as the few females who have acceded to high office seem to have behaved much like their male counterparts. Perhaps it is a case of the jobs being onerous, no matter who does them – the office moulding the holder and not vice versa. Be that as it may, this gender thing has a certain allure, to which I do not seem to be impervious. Note this well!

Social advancement here has too often been brought about by upheaval rather than sensible progress. When one considers the differing levels of development of various individuals, perhaps the surprising thing is not that society doesn’t operate better than it does, but rather that it works at all. Human beings might be well-advised to follow the example of some supposedly lower species, such as ants, which also have a high ratio of brain to body-size. They seem to realise that each individual forms a tiny fraction of a whole and their behaviour reflects this. There is a glimmer of hope for homo sapiens in this respect, but in my view they are proceeding too slowly. One reason is that humans in general have so far unlocked only a small fraction of their mental wherewithal – some say about 10% on average and perhaps 20% for the most advanced specimens. I suspect that these estimates are too high.

Within the countries I have studied most closely, there is a slight difference between the sexes in terms of longevity, the females usually surviving a little longer than the males. I think the reason is obvious. The female experiences great bodily stress when producing offspring, but this occurs typically – at least in the more developed areas – on only two or three occasions in a lifetime. By contrast, the males are in general subjected to more ongoing strain, for example by working in physically demanding jobs. As heavy industry becomes increasingly mechanised, so the life-length gap between the genders is likely to close. And now I must do the same – those damned batteries again. Just time to say that I was most amused to note that you have nicknamed me ‘Chatsworth’. That’s better than I had expected from such a po-faced lot as you. Oh, your offer to sell my house is appreciated. Please do this and see that there are no sticky fingers around when you bank the boodle. Don’t invest it in any long-term bonds.

Stay cool – as if you could.


* * *

May 16th, 2015, 06:49 PM
Third Reply From Planet X To Emissary

Dear Dweedles

Your third rambling report received. No wonder your resources need frequent boosting. You use far too much power on pointless invective. We would have arranged extra facilities long ago, but you’d have frittered them away by sounding off. We know you are partial to equations, so please note that capacity for loquacity equals mendacity. Yes, we have been boning up – is that the right expression? – on English. In case you are as far adrift linguistically as psychologically, the observation implies that fibbers are inclined to smother their falsehoods under an avalanche of words. You will recall that your friend Dwinkles once went on a jaunt like yours and, in order to extend it, reported to us what we later learned was a tissue of lies. Though we are not suggesting that you are culpable of the same conduct at present, we advise frequent self-appraisal. Would it help if we were to dispatch a top shrink to give you a good going-over?

We were well aware of the dangers of sending you out alone, but couldn’t afford to support two voyagers at the time. We can now (even separately), so note that one way or another you must accept assistance. If you are not prepared to confront a psychiatrist, be aware that we have brought Dwolf out of retirement. You might well quail at the prospect of being hounded by the king of trackers, who – thanks to our new diversification plan – is also a partially qualified head doctor. Big D. will hardly need to put an ear to the ground in order to locate you. Did you really think that we would not have contingency plans for coping with a maverick? You are indeed irreplaceable (just as well), but you are not indispensable.

As for your allusion to treading on corns, the question of where you put your feet has caused disquiet here for some time. Permit us to suggest that one or other of them is usually in your mouth. We’re getting quite good at the funny stuff, don’t you think? Anyway, consider our point.

We have digested your comments concerning human beings. It seems that something must be done about these creatures, and you may rest assured that we are giving this matter the thought it deserves. Please don’t annihilate homo sapiens at this stage – the species might be useful to us.

Your appendices told us most of what we needed to know. However, we believe that the essential information could have been produced with far less toil on your part. Try to remember the old eighty-twenty business rule – 80% of the desired result is usually achieved with 20% of the available effort, while the residual 20% of a perfect outcome requires the remaining 80% of work. That game isn’t worth the candle.

Kindly send your next report soon, as our star has become very hot. It’s marginally comforting that we have no call for meat or fish, since every fridge on this planet is now on the blink. Do not lose sight of the fact that while we are largely in your hands, you are (thanks to Dwolf) more or less in ours. A stand-off.

Regards from your worried but still hopeful support group at Mission Control.

* * *

May 20th, 2015, 06:41 PM
Fourth Message To Planet X

Yours received – is that short enough? Regarding your fatuous efforts to engage someone to pursue me, I can only chuckle at the thought that you have wheeled in the big artillery by activating good old – and I really mean old – Dwolf. I’ve heard of tomb-robbing, but this must be the first case in which the occupant of a sarcophagus has been revitalised. A little ghoulish on your part, I suggest. Even when firing on all cylinders – which last happened ages ago – Dwolfie was never very bright. Are you sure the poor soul is sentient? You might just try checking with a cattle prod. Oh, you don’t have such things, do you? I must be getting confused. No wonder, when all my words and deeds are monitored by a horde of control freaks.

It might be mildly interesting to you to learn that my provisions are running out. Did anybody there ever consider how I would sustain myself in space with but one atom of matter per cubic metre? This isn’t exactly a walk in the park, you know. Only my ingenuity has kept me going. I had thought that human being were socially backward, but your latest communication makes me wonder. What a bunch of cheapskates you are. Notwithstanding the above, I appreciate that you’re footing the inadequate bill for this escapade, so I feel an obligation to give you further details, though you may not like some of them.

While humans are a queer crowd, I find them increasingly attractive. Why? Certainly not because of their technological standards. So far, they have lumbered off their own globe to reach the Earth’s satellite, a feat that, cumbersome though it was, extended their ability to its maximum, and made a fearsome racket to boot. Yet, barbarous and destructive as they are, they have something that most of our kind lack. I speak of heart. Yes, that’s a new one for you, isn’t it? I mean, look at yourselves. Your aim is aimlessness. All you’re concerned about is survival. To what end? Most of you aren’t doing much, apart from seeking to prolong your lives for hedonistic purposes. It’s Sodom and Gomorrah all over again if you ask me – but, you won’t, will you?

Human beings have among their number a sprinkling of philosophers, but I must say that the output from these people leaves much to be desired. Usually they choose to speak in terms inaccessible to their contemporaries, a practice which they appear to believe indicates their intellectual superiority. Pretentious rubbish! If they were really clever, they would realise that all great ideas are simple and can be expressed accordingly.

As I mentioned earlier, there are also warriors here. On the whole, they achieve nothing but to wrest from others things which in many cases are lost again through further strife. Idiotic. I mean, if somebody else has something you want, the obvious thing is to buy it or barter for it. Using force is surely not right.

I would say that the best hope here lies in the advancement of the common people, most of whom are, though woefully ill-informed, decent types and don’t care much who owns what, so long as they can live in peace and passable comfort and can enjoy their chosen diversions. In this respect sport, particularly association football (soccer), has a high profile. You wouldn’t believe how much feeling this engenders, especially among the fans, who get even more worked up than do the players, and who seem to think nothing of indulging in unseemly brawls, sometimes even before a match, when they have nothing to complain about. After the event, things often get worse – I attended one football game which was followed by a street-fight involving people stropping each other with broken bottles, bicycle chains and suchlike items.

Now, my egg-timer (a dinky little gizmo I purloined from a shop in Switzerland) tells me that I shall soon be obliged to ‘throw another log on the fire’ to beef up my batteries. Watch this space, and each time you think of sending a chaperone this way, remember that I have my hands on some costly machinery. To what extent are you prepared to antagonise me?

Your increasingly unwilling flunkey,


* * *

May 23rd, 2015, 06:50 PM
Fourth Reply From Planet X To Emissary

Dear Dweedles

We have assimilated your latest wordathon. Let us say first that you should not underestimate Dwolf, who is fully limbered-up, tense as a bowstring and ready for the starter’s gun. We can hardly restrain the Great Hunter. Do you hear those gnashing teeth?

Your cheapskate jibe is unwarranted. Dweedie, there is such a thing as economics – a point you would have understood, had you had a wider education. In fairness, you may be right about designation from birth. A more comprehensive curriculum is being implemented here, within the framework of a wider social study which would be more advanced but for the near-intolerable heat we are experiencing.

As for your provisions, we did our best with the resources we had to hand. It is unfortunate that you are having trouble in this respect but really, one atom per cubic metre seems adequate, bearing in mind that space is, as you will have noticed, quite voluminous. What has become of your self-professed ingenuity? If you still have that quality, now is the time to invoke it. Do what you can and be assured that we are applying ourselves to your predicament.

So, you assess us as control freaks, eh? Well, what else did you expect? For goodness’ sake, this is a control centre, you chump. We don’t know when you got this idea of individualism, but you must shed it. Think of yourself as a tiny part of the whole. Consider the terrestrial ants you mentioned earlier. They seem to have the right collective mindset.

Dwee, nobody questions your integrity – well, maybe some have doubts – but there is a general feeling here that you are out on a lake and that the boatmaster is saying “Come in, number whatever. Your time’s up.”

With regard to philosophers, don’t dwell on them. We know all about angels dancing on a pinhead. All the information we have gathered confirms that these ‘thinkers’ are as useless in one place as another. They seek vainly to influence their complanetaries. That’s a nice one, don’t you think? It’s a composite of ‘compatriots’ and ‘contemporaries’, extended to embrace all dwellers on a celestial orb. We’re becoming quite good at inventing words.

The concept of warriors is also familiar to us. No need for you to worry about them. They are invariably limited in terms of mental capacity and the most they can do is delay the inevitable.

Now, we have a couple of bones to pick with you – as if we hadn’t already had a few. First, regarding your comment concerning heart, we do not understand this notion, but will try to analyse it. For the moment, stay pragmatic. Second, you mention sport. What is this? It doesn’t appear in your unbearably long appendices, so why raise it now? Is your mind drifting – again?

Finally, we adjure you most earnestly to think hard about your entanglement with humankind. Mark our words, no good will come of this.

Regards from the extremely warm staff here at Mission Control.

* * *

May 27th, 2015, 06:57 PM
Fifth Message To Planet X

Notwithstanding the provocative tone of your latest missive, I intend to continue doing all I can to acquaint you with the situation on planet Earth. For a few minutes, I shall overlook your more contentious remarks. When last interrupted by technical shortcomings – where are our much-vaunted scientists? – I was about to go into theological matters.

Religion is a big thing here. This is mystifying, as it induces people to kill each other in large numbers, regardless of the fact that nobody can confirm or refute the existence of a supernatural agency. Christians, Jews and Muslims continue their long-established practice of reciprocal butchery, regardless of the fact that they are, as I understand it, branches of a common Abrahamic tradition. This goes further, in that the various adherents have subdivisions, which seem to be as hostile to others of their own kind as to those they consider adversaries in a wider sense. One could be excused for thinking that an omnipotent and omniscient being would have settled for imbuing sentient creatures with a single belief system. By the way, the three strands just mentioned do not represent the whole spectrum. Don’t ask me to explain this because I would not want to insult your intelligence by doing so or my own by trying.

As for governance, once again I cannot offer unequivocal clarification, as this seems to be intertwined with entertainment, both being aspects of show-business. I recently observed a congress of European Union heads of state and government – in some cases there is no distinction. It was hilarious. As far as I could make out, the leaders went back home afterwards, claiming that they had outmanoeuvred everyone else and achieved a triumph for their respective electorates. Growing pains, I’d say, but better than the warfare that ensued from piffling disagreements in bygone days.

The position in the USA – currently top dog in economo-military terms – is not much different, as some of the citizens there have genuine concerns about the world situation, while others don’t give a damn about it, so long as they are apprised of the latest baseball/basketball/football results. I find this a little depressing.

With regard to social organisation, the capitalist system described in Appendix 9 prevails in many of the more highly developed areas, the reason being that this arrangement is the most successful in creating wealth, though it does not really address the spread of material riches. There was – and to some extent still is – an alternative in the form of communism. Regrettably, this has usually proved itself to be more efficient in the distribution of poverty rather than wealth. Still, the socialist idea may well be sound, if a little ahead of its time. I am mindful of the fact that we had similar convulsions in our society long ago. Some compromise will be necessary here. Overall, movement is slow and sporadic, but mainly progressive.

Now, I must inform you of my personal position. Frankly, I am in a conflicted state. Androgyny no longer seems the right course for me. To put it bluntly, I have fallen in love. Snigger if you will, but I am attracted to a human female. She is of Mediterranean extraction and her name is Vulpina. I believe that has some associative meaning, but am not sure what it is. Anyway, she is voluptuous, in addition to which she is also a competent amateur harpist. In fact, I heard someone ask her if she was a virtuoso, to which she replied haughtily that she had ‘never been with a man’. I don’t know what that means.

As a result of her former occupation, Vulpina is financially independent. She worked nocturnally and it is common here for night-shift people to be well-rewarded for their inconvenience – remarkably so in her case. She has a number of videotapes which she says are very valuable, though they will remain so only for as long as they are secreted. I find this baffling, but she must know what she is doing. Anyway, a little light morphing has put me in her good books, and I can think of no place I would rather be.

I have just spent some time hovering around England, home of the mongrel language which, despite its manifest absurdities, or perhaps because of them, becomes increasingly the lingua franca for many of the Earth’s people. Superficially, this tongue would appear an unlikely candidate for its leading role, as (a) writing and pronunciation seem to have undergone divorce proceedings and (b) the rules of speech are pretty much what any given individual wants them to be, though I should say in fairness that the grammar is largely uniform, which means that most Anglophones recognise good style when they encounter it. The explanation is probably threefold. First, the Britons were remarkably active in colonial times. Second, the record of their cultural spread, albeit far from unblemished, was on the whole possibly less negatively charged than those of some other nations. Third, the Anglosphere is prominent in economic affairs and currently accounts for a large proportion of the Earth’s gross international product. This will change, but the unifying effect of English will, I think, endure for quite a while.

Earlier, I studied the second-largest continent, Africa, which I must say is not in good condition – though I believe that circumstances there are likely to improve. Europeans and North Americans often deplore the violent events that occur at times in what used to be called The Dark Continent. This is strange because during the last century, the people of the countries from which this censure emanates were involved in the greatest orgies of bloodletting that even the remarkably murderous human race has ever experienced.

Much as I would like to continue, I am, as they say here, running on empty, so this is all for the moment. It would be nice to think of more backup from the place I am ever-less disposed to think of as home, but what chance is there?

Yours more in hope than expectation,


* * *

May 30th, 2015, 06:35 PM
Fifth Reply From Planet X To Emissary

Dear Dweedles

We are upset by your latest missive, the general view here being that you may have been exposed to too much oxygen. Our boffins have studied the results of other trips like yours and are convinced that this kind of thing can cause flights of fancy.

Regarding your involvement with the human female Vulpina, please note that the name does indeed have an associative meaning. Can this really have escaped you? Look up ‘vulpine’ in your dictionary. What do you see? Relating to or characteristic of the fox. Crafty, cunning, right? Be careful. Further, does it not occur to you that the lady’s former lifestyle has certain connotations? Nocturnal indeed! We could be more explicit. Incidentally, you describe her as of Mediterranean extraction. Do you mean that she is an offspring of a family from the shoreline concerned, or some kind of mermaid you dredged from the briny? We know you are given to meandering, but please try to be specific. Incidentally, when speaking of Vulpina’s musical ability and her retort to a question you asked her, you probably confused the words virtuoso and virtuous. No charge for these language lessons.

Dweedikins, you are infatuated. Do not weaken further. You must have noticed from your experiences elsewhere that this disease is common wherever there are two genders. Get a grip on yourself. Do your duty and try to avoid being more of a chump than nature made you – it did well enough. By the way, there is a limit to the morphing you can achieve. The object of your affection is sure to have, let us say, certain expectations. If you were to be so foolish as to prolong your liaison with her, she would probably anticipate delights which you could not offer. The ‘little light morphing’ you mention is a silly idea, even by your standards. You must learn to live with the fact that there is a limit to the extent to which you can adjust your anatomy. Watch out when the crockery starts flying.

Now, don’t underestimate Dwolf. Though somewhat long in the tooth, Big D is a veritable bloodhound, capable of finding you in any corner of the Cosmos. We have cautioned you before about getting above your station. Just remember your role as a tool of The Plan. You appear to have assessed yourself as something more than that. You are not.

Here is another point you might find awkward. Your assignment requires that you supply us with solutions, but you seem to be disposed to raise questions rather than give answers. Most of what your communications purport to reveal was clear to us from the appendices you sent before your first message. Dweedie, we had hoped to avoid getting into this situation, but we have no choice. You are to stay in situ and take no action until Dwolf gets there to relieve you. It has been decided that despite your recalcitrance, you are to be accorded a full public reception on your return here, and that suitable employment will be found for you in the civil service. You are to be an archivist, grade two, with no impediment to your reaching the top level (five), should your efforts so merit.

You might wish to note that the heat here is now nearly intolerable – a position which could have been avoided had you worked more swiftly. However, we shall do all within our power to cope.

Regards from your perspiring support team at Mission Control.

* * *

June 3rd, 2015, 07:08 PM
Final Message To Planet X

It amazes me that you can still indulge in berating your cosmic standard-bearer when you have so little time left to save yourselves. Before addressing anything else, I would like to respond to your derisory offer of a clerical post. It is hereby rejected. I have no desire for a desk job, particularly not at the level you mention. Even making allowance for your fuddy-duddy mindset, I can’t believe that you maintain a straight face when replying to my reports. Anyway, kindly note that I do not wish to be a mere jobsworth – you’ll probably have to look that one up. If I had any such desire, I certainly would not wish in such an inferno as my original home planet seems to have become.

I had intended to convey many other things, including a detailed description of sport, a form of warfare unknown to us but very popular here, and an appraisal of radio and television broadcasting. However, your censorious retorts to so many of my observations suggest that this would be a waste of effort on my part.

This is a time for straight talking, so I must tell you that I have long been teetering on the brink of a major decision, and have now made it. You may be unable to put yourselves in the position of one who has been separated from you for so long. Maybe the best thing I can say is that yesterday has gone and tomorrow has not yet arrived, so today is what matters. Just as an experiment, you might try to grasp the idea that the expression ‘long-term’ is relative. Though no biologist, I assume that a housefly here considers the period from dawn to dusk as near-enough a lifetime, but doesn’t get worked up about that fact. An American fellow once said that it is not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years. See what I mean?

To keep it short, I am throwing in my lot with that of humankind. Yes, they are savages, but they have embraced the notion of jesting in the face of adversity and even death. As individuals, we survive longer than homo sapiens, but they are ahead of us in appreciating that, as one of their scribes put it: “One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name.” These creatures know how to live. What do we do? Where are our creative writers, painters, poets and composers? We have not produced any genuinely new artistic work for centuries. I said in my fourth message and I now say again that your objective is mere survival. Why do you want to go on? After all, you’re not achieving anything of consequence, are you?

With regard to my own lot, I was shoe-horned into a career for which I had the talent, but not the desire. Now I am free to choose and intend to share my life with Vulpina – don’t try to contaminate my mind with aspersions about her past. If she was once culpable of indiscretions, she is all right now. And even if things were not quite tickety-boo with her, there is my American friend Polly, who will take anyone, anytime, on financially acceptable terms – and thanks to one of your rare bursts of technical wizardry, I can lay hands on any amount of boodle whenever I like. Long live free enterprise.

Send Dwolfus Geriatricus if you wish, but note that the great stalker will draw a blank, as I am about to destroy the spacecraft which has been my domicile these many weary years, so there will be nothing to find. I shall vanish among the teeming millions here. You will not hear anything more from me, and as things are warming up at your end, my advice to you is fly or fry.

Your erstwhile obedient servant,


The above item concludes the exchanges between Dweedles and Mission Control.

* * *