This is more of a setting than a plot. The (unnamed) prime minister of Australia joins a meeting of government and military officials. Outside, bushfires rage, and an alien spaceship hovers, inert, over the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania. It is so inert that seagulls have begun to use it as a roosting site.
“So it’s already interfering with local wildlife,” The prime minister makes a note of this and adds, “Inform me immediately if the seagulls visibly sicken.”
This concern surprises the deputy prime minister. “Why? They’re just seagulls. Nobody will care. We let a billion animals die during the last fire season, and we still got reelected.”
This same heartlessness is shown to the protesters outside. Who cares if the treehuggers die? Granted the mess would be embarrassing—
In the meeting room, a few raise concerns over what the prime minister is doing and saying, but there is also a chorus of faceless brown-nosers, whose encouraging words appear out of thin air, and who laugh on demand.
While I appreciate many of the author’s witticisms (seagulls roosting on an alien spaceship? Cute.), I also feel like this tale is much a reflection of whatever chunk of the twenty-four-hour news cycle one happens to be watching at any given moment. I could not enjoy this piece. It’s all too familiar because it depicts the same callousness reflected in every accursed news broadcast for at least the last four years or so.
Having said that, I know that the story is not the author. In her story notes, author Anya Ow, who lives in Melbourne, speaks of the devastating fires Australia experienced last year:
“…for everyone who volunteered, who raised money or awareness or helped during the bushfire crisis, thank you.”
According to her blurb, author Anya Ow was born in Singapore. She is a graphic designer, illustrator, cat minder, and ex-lawyer living in Melbourne. Her work has appeared in venues such as Strange Horizons, Uncanny, and Aurealis. Her first novella, Cradle and Grave, was published this year. She can be found on twitter: @anyasy or at uneasy.com.
“Other Life Forms Are The Most Of Our Problems” can be read here.
Title: “Other Life Forms Are The Most Of Our Problems”
Author: Anya Ow
First published: Daily Science Fiction, August 10, 2020
Review of “Other Life Forms Are The Most Of Our Problems” by Anya Ow