“Here It Is”

ESD April 15th, 2629

Malinowski Research Station, Trobriand Sector, Ryosh c

Ryosh System

Wow. That’s about all I can say. All that preparation leading up to this moment—the tons of grant money four universities and a couple hundred donors could scrape together, the all-nighters I thought I’d left behind in grad school, the wondering if I’d actually pull this one out or just screw it up—and here it is. Or rather, here it was. We just returned to our research station (appropriately named Malinowski [5], in the also appropriately named Trobriand Sector) after a five or six hour meet-and-greet with local dignitaries and scientists. It was a pretty big affair in Trobriand Sector’s largest city, which we’ve been calling Metropolis for lack of a better name. Tony’s idea of a joke, I guess, but I don’t get it. Probably another one of his historical references.

The city itself is one of the largest on Ryosh c, with an estimated 3.7 million inhabitants including its suburbs and satellite islands. It wasn’t actually the first city contacted by the discoverers of the planet, if we can call them that without sounding too Columbian, but they of all the other communities here were recommended to host our research team. Our primary base is located on the outskirts of Metropolis, almost right on the kind of beach someone like me would have to save for three or four years on an academic salary to visit for a week. I’m pretty sure I’ll like it here.

As for the two additional bases we have planned, we’ve picked out prospective locations for Mead [6] and Jocano [7] Stations but we won’t be scouting them out for another week or so. Now was that an Earth Standard Week or a local one? I’ll have to ask Tony about that tomorrow. Not that I’m anxious to leave here already, of course, it’s just that I like having things planned out in advance. It keeps me from worrying too much, which now especially is something I’d like to avoid if at all possible.

And let me tell you more about Malinowski. To put it simply, it’s set right in the middle of a landscape so beautiful that even that irascible pervert Gauguin, in all his vibrant Noa Noa dreams, couldn’t have painted it better. I’m told the fantastic colors of the flora here are a result of more intense solar radiation in whiter hues than Earth’s own sun, meaning plants adapted to reflect the excess sunlight in colors so much more diverse than our own home planet’s already wide palette. That sounds good enough for me. All I know is that I don’t imagine I could ever grow tired of it.

The only problem is the atmosphere. Now we knew going in from spectral readings taken lightyears out that the gas composition was going to be heavily oxygen-based with a blend of nitrogen and trace gases similar to our own, so it’s not like the risk of hyperoxia was going to be a surprise. The hard part was getting here and finding that it was just so damn gorgeous on the surface that having to spend all our time in suits was a worse torture even than not being able to itch our own noses until we reached the habitats again. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if this place had turned out to be some frigid hellscape like Pluto or Keffin f but nope. White sand, light breezes, plenty of sunshine, and not a beach towel to be seen.

I suppose that would only be too tempting to have one around and in the long run, as I’d much rather avoid seizures and eventual agonizing death from oxygen poisoning than worry about maintaining a tan. “This is supposed to be work” is what I keep having to tell myself whenever I notice I’ve been staring out the window too long. At this rate I should just get it tattooed backwards on my forehead so I can see it in the window before my eyes can focus on the beaches outside.

So just as expected, Larisha and I are left with what may as well be just a cozy, little corner of our habitat, on the other side of the biochemistry labs from the kitchen. I predict that this will become increasingly bothersome as time goes on. As far as our equipment is concerned, it’s not too different from what I used when I did my dissertation fieldwork, and I can’t determine whether or not this should worry me. Was I expecting something flashier for the first research mission to an extraterrestrial sentient species? I suppose it doesn’t really matter, since not only is our station not permanent, but we’re also not expected to make major communications breakthroughs and decode the entire Ryosh linguistic apparatus in one go. At least that’s what Oranna told me. Instead, we’re just supposed to lay the groundwork for someone else by collecting and evaluating enough data to determine how they communicate.

Well, screw that. I want to bust this thing wide open and get at all the good stuff inside, not just give the presently unknown “someone else” a gimme for their next publication and eventual lifetime grant for overwhelming contributions to human scientific endeavor. Let them do their own research. Larisha will help, of course, and I’m pretty sure she’d say the same.

      5. Bronisław Malinowski (1884-1942) was a Polish anthropologist famous for his ethnographic work in the Trobriand Islands on Earth and renowned as the father of participant-observation.

      6. Margaret Mead (1901-1978) was an American anthropologist whose work in Samoa and Southeast Asia was particularly groundbreaking in broadening understandings of human sexuality and social organization.

      7. Felipe Landa Jocano (1930-2013) was a Filipino anthropologist most well-known for his theories on the populating of the Philippines by Austronesian peoples.


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