“Watershed,” James Blish, 1955

“Watershed,” James Blish, 1955 — In a future in which the basic human type can no longer inhabit Earth, an Adapted Man and the seal-man Hoqqueah argue over the idea of a “primary type” for human kind.

Wikipedia summary: “[‘Watershed’] takes a look at the more distant future. A very long time after the beginning of the Pantropy program, a starship crewed by “standard” humans is en route to some unimportant backwater planet to deliver a pantropy team who are “adapted” humans resembling seals more than humans. Due to racial prejudices, tension mounts between the crew and the passengers on board. When the captain decides to restrict the passengers to their cabins to prevent the situation from escalating, the leader of the adapted humans informs him that the planet ahead is Earth, where the ‘normal’ human form once developed. He challenges the ‘normal’ humans to follow him onto the surface of their ancestral home planet and prove that they are superior to the ‘adapted’ seal people who will now be seeded there — or admit that they were beaten on their own grounds. The story concludes as the captain and his lieutenant silently ponder the possibility that they, being “standard” humans, are just a minority, and an obsolete species.”

Comments: Read in Supermen, ed. Gardner Dozois. Themes of race, the body, “forms,” nostalgia, home/environment, post-humans.  Dozois says this is a post-human story that discusses the possibility that once mankind goes post-human, it cannot and will not want to go “back” to the primary form.

Author: Wikipedia: “James Benjamin Blish (May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975) was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.”

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1946-1959, cyborgs/posthumans, difference/tolerance, evolution, exiles/"home"/displacement, function/utility/skeumorphs, memory, race/civil rights, the body. Bookmark the permalink.

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