The story looks back at the alien invasion:
The aliens [sic]ships deployed missiles the size of roses’ thorns, and sleeted down over our cities. They interfaced with the internet, uploaded themselves into our computers and phones, and seized control.
When people cry out, asking what the aliens want, the only answer they receive is not to be afraid. “We love you.”
Of course, the aliens aren’t entirely altruistic, though humanity benefits from the invasion. There is a price to pay, both for the favored and for the cast aside.
Wahls draws a parallel between the alien “love” for humanity and human love for pets. Is it, indeed, love? Even if dogs are happy, are they in some way less whole animals than the wolves they evolved from with the selective breeding they’ve endured at the hands of humans? They were once independent creatures, but are now largely dependent on humans. What’s it like to be a dog? What’s it like to be a dog who doesn’t make the cut?
I don’t know if any of this was in the author’s mind, of course. I’m reading a lot into a short short. The little tale says a lot in a few words.
According to the bio on his page, author Jamie Wahls is a writer, programmer, pianist, suicide counselor, voice actor, massage therapist, mime, model, ex-millionaire, Krav Magi, scuba diver, game developer, neuroscience enthusiast, dance instructor, vegetarian, and very cautious driver. His short story, “Utopia, LOL,” published in Strange Horizons, was nominated for a Best Short Story Nebula Award in 2017.
“A Kept Species” can be read here.
Title: “A Kept Species”
Author: Jamie Wahls
First published: October 11, 2020, Daily Science Fiction