Thursday Night Bar Fight #13: Even In A Perfect World, Where Everyone Was Equal…
Good news, everyone! NASA has just confirmed that we will soon be welcoming a new type of aliens to into our neighborhoods and workplaces. And by aliens, they mean actual, honest-to-God, extra-terrestrial aliens. They will arrive in exactly one month and will immediately begin to integrate into our society.
The aliens own rules dictate that they must disrupt our own society as little as possible. Even though our leaders have asked doggedly for them to share at least of their advanced technology, they have refused. (Thanks a lot, Obama!) In fact, those aliens that will live among us have no special training in any kind of science that is not already commonly known here on Earth. If the aliens at any time decide that they simply cannot understand humanity enough to live among us, they will leave an never contact us again.
In order to best prepare them, we have been asked to send them a book. The book should be one that says the most about humanity itself and the society we have built. From this one kernel will come the prism from which they understand their new home and us.
The question, of course, is what should that one, single book be?
Do we send them fiction or non-fiction? Or poetry? Do we emphasize our history, or our current state of affairs? Our sciences, or our philosophies? Those parts of us that convey our grace, or our corruption – or both? When making this choice, you must both determine what elements best convey the human condition, and then decide which single book most effectively communicates those elements.
As always, there are some rules:
- The aliens have an inherent and otherworldly knack for comprehension. Any phrase, use of idiom, or reference (no matter how obscure!) will be understood be the aliens as easily as we ourselves understand them.
- The aliens have stipulated that under no circumstances will they accept anthologies. They are willing to make an exception for poetry, but only collections of poetry by a single poet as originally published in book form. That is to say, the poetry collection Questions About Angels by Billy Collins would be acceptable; The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats would not.
- The book may be a religious text, but the rules on anthology still apply. The Bible, therefore, would not be acceptable. However, Genesis, The Book of Job, or Paul’s Letter to Corinthians would be.
- If you wish, you may nominate more than one book, but you may nominate no more than three.
- If you do decide to nominate more than one, you must identify your top choice.
- There will be no up or down voting tallied with the bar fight, but you should feel free to both defend your own choice and challenge the choices of others.
- If there are enough entries – and if those entries are diverse enough – we will publish an Ordinary Times Library of Humanity over the weekend. (Perhaps in Ordinary Tales?)
Bonus Question: If it turns out the aliens are a bunch of slackers, which movie should we send them to accomplish the same goal?