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Fermi's Answer

E.E. King is an award-winning painter, performer, writer, and naturalist--She'll do anything that won't pay the bills, especially if it involves animals.

Ray Bradbury called her stories, "marvelously inventive, wildly funny, and deeply thought-provoking. I cannot recommend them highly enough."

She's been published widely, including Clarkesworld. Her stories are on Tangent's 2019 and 2020 year's best stories. She has been nominated for seven Pushcart awards.

She has shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles and is collected internationally.

Check out paintings, writing, musings, and books at: www.elizabetheveking.com and amazon.com/author/eeking.

Daniel White is a publisher and writer living in Taiwan. White is the creator of Unfit and Unreal, two of the highest-paying magazines in the speculative short fiction world. His imprint also features Longshot Island, a pulp fiction magazine featuring psychological short stories, and Mythaxis Review, presenting articles and interviews looking at books, movies, music, and anything else in the world of art and artists.

Notes from SETI Meeting #894
Dear Members, at last we have an answer.
After years and years of searching for life on other planets, we have finally heard a sound.
Sadly, it was a scream, the last gasp of a dying race.
"Radio waves" whispered the alien into some interstellar translator.
It was lightyears beyond our technology. It offered instant comprehension but was in no way alive. It was an intergalactic hearing aid, unobtrusive without personality. The aliens had no Siri, no Alexa. Their technologies didn't need names, they were extensions of self, extensions to hearing, sight, and movement.
It was easier to make progress when you didn't worry about AI, the intelligence I-- we-- they had created taking over. There were no issues of personhood or slavery. No, Alexa is just as alive as you. No discrimination biased on algorithms. How much they could teach us. But they were gone.
They contacted us post-mortem, leaving us with a hologram message. It was like life but a little more flickery. The creature was long, elegant and silver, like mercury, like liquid beech, like a silent scream.
"Radio waves." It cried. Its whisper was the susurration of wind, echoing through empty hallways.
"Your radio waves are killing us. And we are not the first.
"Since the first radio wave was cast into an empty night each note traveling on and outward, every frequency disrupting something. Each I Love Lucy episode, every Beatles song dealt a death blow to some distant species. You searched and searched, sending probes into distant galaxies looking for intelligent life, but with every varied oscillation another race, another planet, was gone. Currents innocuous to you have killed everything."
The hologram showed us incandescent worlds, now uninhabited rock.
"How many civilizations have withered under the power and reach of your signals?"
The image faded leaving us alone.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, March 3rd, 2022
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