I was watching original series Star Trek earlier this evening (the Horror Channel is showing reruns – don’t ask me why they consider Star Trek to be appropriate to the Horror Channel, I have no idea, I simply take what I can get). It was the episode The Devil In The Dark. For those not quite as enthusiastic as I am, that’s the episode with the Horta (not Horla – that’s a different story, and an entirely different crossover if they ever wrote it), the rock-creature who is apparently committing wholesale murder on a mining planet, but who is only trying to drive the miners away because they’re smashing her eggs. As the story progresses, Kirk and Spock establish communication with the creature, find out that she is a mother and that her eggs are at risk and that she is intelligent, and end the story by convincing the mob-minded miners of this, and establishing a relationship of mutual toleration, where the miners don’t smash any more eggs and stay out of the Horta’s way, and she and her offspring dig tunnels which the miners can then use for their mining.

Quite a standard episode, you might say.

I’m just trying to think of the last time I saw a plot along those lines in more recent science fiction.

I suppose part of the problem is that these days, it is assumed that your nice kind good Federation-type exploring spaceships are going to have automatic guidelines/protocols along the lines of “assume other forms of life can exist”, “don’t wipe out the native race”, “check to see if there is a native race before you send in the miners”, “examine the mysterious egglike nodules that are turning up all over the place”, and so on. Plus, Star Trek did the story first. All reasons not to see the story elsewhere, or for it to have a lot more camouflage/additional material if it does show up.

Or perhaps we’re just all too cynical these days.

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