“Not to Sound Bitter”


ESD May 14th, 2629

Malinowski Research Station, Trobriand Sector, Ryosh c

Ryosh System


It has been 29 days since my arrival on Ryosh c. Not to sound bitter about it, but I’m getting a little worn out. Okay, more than a little worn out. Okay, I’m bitter, dammit. This is precisely the kind of thing that you think you’re escaping when you go into linguistic anthropology. You get your head filled up with ideas of diplomacy, cooperation, exploration, rah rah rah, then you wind up not being able to talk to anyone once you get there.

I can’t say I ever thought to envy the archaeologists, much less the biochemists, who can work freely without the guilt hanging over you that you haven’t even figured out how to ask anything yet, much less ask the right questions. It’s not like you can ask an organelle what its function is or a potsherd where it fits into the regional sequence. As aggravating as I’m sure that is, though, there’s no expectation that you could ever do so, and therefore less pressure to succeed in something that’s physically impossible. Yet here I am trying to communicate with aliens when even the most basic level of communication is eluding me.

The chromatophore part I get; I’m sure we all got that one right from the start. It’s what comes later that’s so infuriating at times. Just to watch seemingly every other team succeed in spite of my shortcomings (and they really are mine because there’s no way Larisha gets implicated in this as a research assistant) while I trudge along with the same pointless holo experiments…

Maybe I’m being too cynical about this, or at least just impatient. I know what I’m like. I get in these weird moods where nothing is good enough, everyone else is engaged in laudable enterprises except for me, etc. None of this is all that productive, really. I guess all I’d really like is to feel like I’m doing something that’s contributing to the mission, not just taking up breathable air that could be best used in the brains of more adept researchers.

There’s really no need to mope about this, especially when there’s work to be done, but that’s part of the problem. Settling on which work needs to be done has been the primary concern since day one down here. The most basic assumption in place at the moment—that the Ryosh beings are intelligent—isn’t going anywhere. But the obvious and necessarily corollary to all that is the existence of a real language, with its own complexity within the confines of grammatical and social rules. Inferring its existence is the kind of task I’d expect from a non-major undergrad. “Are these beings sentient according to this and given that” with the obvious answer being “of course they are”. It’s what follows that leaves me feeling like I’m the only one on the team who can’t see past the flickering lights on the cave wall to some real light, not just a reflection.

I almost don’t even want to admit it, especially when it feels like every single day gives us another unprecedented discovery from someone else. It gets awfully tiresome awfully fast. Not to say that I’m one of those people who has to succeed to the detriment of others or that no one can win here but myself, just that it would be nice to see even a little victory come my way over here.

Of course, I say that now. Asking for just one is usually just enough to get the genie of chance to tempt you with a vision of success, leaving you to wonder why you never thought to ask for more than what you got. Meanwhile, the idea that you get only what you deserve makes you wonder further about what you did to deserve all of this. Was it a test I could’ve studied for better? Doubt it, since none of this was testable when I was in undergrad. Or how about that monograph you should’ve read but instead you just skimmed the first and last chapters for the thesis statements and BSed your way through the discussion? It’s these little irrational fears that turn one into an irrational creature, staying up late to figure out your problems but only getting eye bags and a short temper for your trouble.

Is this really what I signed up for? Who else that’s got a nice, confident face on is really just wishing they’d decided to go home before attempting anything close to going big? Makes me wonder.


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