“While certainly the big news is that we are not alone,” says the lead astronomer on the project, Dr. Frank Ocean, “I personally am having a hard time getting past our one-star rating on this alien Yelp we have stumbled across.”
The reviews – which Yelp themselves have verified as sounding eerily similar to ones you would find on their site, but from aliens – number in the thousands, with only a few of them having been decoded so far. But those that have are telling. And damning. And not especially favourable.
“Go for the fish, stay for the people-watching. Odd species of mostly hairless bipedals who spend their lives simultaneously loving everything and fighting each other about who loves what more. Still believe in deities. Randomly burn a bush for extra entertainment. Highly recommend the bull,” said a reviewer named “Yaweh,” whose post had a time signature indicating it was penned somewhere around 3500 years ago.
“Awful place,” begins another, with a date that roughly corresponds to the year 1940 in our calendar. “Seriously, what the fuck is going on with that planet? This is the last time we stop between Saturn’s moons and Mercury’s hot baths. Our family space-wagon was nearly destroyed when we parked it in a bucolic French field, having heard the lavender was divine at that time of year, only to find we were in the middle of some sort of battle between the natives. Loud business. Very violent. Some asshole named Hitler seems to be winning. Couldn’t leave fast enough. Never going back.”
“I give them one star,” says another review, the briefest of those so far intercepted. “I mean, that’s just a fact. You can’t argue with that.”
Still others err towards the overtly ominous in their references.
“The locals seem to realize they are ruining everything, but can’t decide if they should stop. Very odd. Lovely ice caps, while they last, and those are about the only thing worth going there for. That and the panda bears. So adorbs. Also of interest: the fourteen-kilometre-long serpents hibernating on the bottom of the planet’s oceans. The human people seem unaware of these. They should be waking soon. Hilarious.”
“A small rock full of short-lived beings who despite only existing for a few turns around a dying sun, are oddly obsessed with coupons. Favourite sport involves arbitrarily using only half their limbs, which is indicative of their approach to life in general: making everything harder than it has to be. Another popular pastime, mostly of their elite, is to smash a small ball with a stick across an enormous field that the poor people aren’t allowed on, and then shout and swear. Great fun to watch. While cloaked use your space craft’s hover-turbines on silent to blow their ‘golf’ balls into the water, preferably at a major event. They. Will. Lose. Their. Fecal matter.”
Which brings us to the last communique to have so far been decoded:
“Unusually there are just two genders, one of which should clearly be in charge but isn’t and the other of which is in charge but shouldn’t be, despite eons of poor results. Belligerent chaos reigns. Do not recommend stopping here, could hardly sleep for all the chest thumping. So true what the soothsayers of the outer dimensions say: Binary is scary.”
Dr. Ocean promises they are working around the clock to render more of the messages intelligible to our wild, marauding species, but says he can’t promise any of the reviews to come will be any more favourable than those already interpreted, and he admits he is more than a little disturbed by what he has so far discovered.
“I am having a bit of a hard time focusing,” the noted astrophysicist says, visibly unsettled by the exhilarating, but ultimately unnerving, dispatches from space. “Fourteen-kilometre-long sea serpents have always had that effect on me. They make me a bit uncomfortable. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.”