A science fiction
novel by Robert J. Sawyer
, published in June, 2000 ISBN
0-312-86713-1. Concerns aliens
who come to Earth
looking for evidence that the universe
was created by an intelligent designer who occasionally intervenes in its day to day workings (ie: God
, Mr. Sawyer's
best book to date, a highly entertaining read that asks some damn good big question
s about the universe
(and the small question: "Why do science fiction
aliens always lack a sense of humor
Here is an excerpt from the first chapter, lifted from Mr. Sawyer's very fine web site http://www.sfwriter.com (Which is ok, by the terms of fair use as this is by way of a review). An alien ship has just landed outside the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and an alien has emerged and walked inside
Anyway, the creature moved quickly to the far side of the Rotunda, in between the admissions desk and the membership-services counter. Now, I didn't see this part firsthand, either, but the whole thing was recorded by a security camera, which is good because no one would have believed it otherwise. The alien sidled up to the blue-blazered security officer -- Raghubir, a grizzled but genial Sikh who'd been with the ROM forever -- and said, in perfect English, "Excuse me. I would like to see a paleontologist."
Raghubir's brown eyes went wide, but he quickly relaxed. He later said he figured it was a joke. Lots of movies are made in Toronto, and, for some reason, an enormous number of science-fiction TV series, including over the years such fare as Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict, Ray Bradbury Theater, and the revived Twilight Zone. He assumed this was some guy in costume or an animatronic prop. "What kind of paleontologist?" he said, deadpan, going along with the bit.
The alien's spherical torso bobbed once. "A pleasant one, I suppose."
On the video, you can see old Raghubir trying without complete success to suppress a grin. "I mean, do you want an invertebrate or a vertebrate?"
"Are not all your paleontologists humans?" asked the alien. He had a strange way of talking, but I'll get to that. "Would they not therefore all be vertebrates?"
I swear to God, this is all on tape.