“We contacted aliens year ago. They didn’t have anything useful to say, so we all kind of forgot about it.”

“What? How could you do that? What were they like?”

“Near as we could tell they were kind of like a fungus with some kind of fluid-based decentralized nervous system. R-selectors, no sexes, reproduction by what can only be described as billions of spores. What social bonds they had were formed based on size, not relatedness. They were their own starships, with the little young ones as the crew and the big old ones as the ship itself.”

“You must have tried to talk with them.”

“We had nothing to say to them. It took twenty years for our top men to figure out the system of pheromones, chromoatophores, temperature changes, and sterile airborne spores they used to communicate. And what did we find they were saying?”

“What?”

“They were obsessed with temperature variations on their planets. They talked about the weather, all the time, obsessively. When it wasn’t that it was grading various sources of the nutrient sludge they consume. It was mind-numbing.”

“Did you ask them any questions? Maybe that was just a fluke. Would they really find our conversations all that interesting?”

“We asked about their intentions, and they said they wanted to know what the weather would be like on their homeworld tomorrow. We asked about their technology, and they told us that their nutrient sludge was a little off today. The only thing they wanted to know from us was whether we had any sludge to share. It was just like tolking to a goddamn mushroom.”

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