Helping Hand

People of the Earth:

It was a pleasant surprise, receiving your radio transmissions—even as we realize they have taken several of your decades to reach us, and we may not have been the intended recipients for your messages. If, indeed, you had any particular listener in mind, and this was not just a happy accident.

We certainly did not expect to stumble upon a technological civilization in your sector of the galaxy, much less one capable of generating electromagnetic waves.

You can be justifiably proud of your achievements: Very few of the sadly small number of cultures we have found ever have made that particular discovery. And not one of them at all, but yours, have boldly dreamed of using such a primitive—yet effective enough!—method to announce your presence to the Universe at large.

Yours is truly an enterprising race, and from what we can judge from the content of your messages you have developed an intriguing culture that has so much to contribute to our common galaxy. We can clearly see you have now just started to explore your neighboring space, with the use of technologies so crude we ourselves would never have thought them applicable to the purpose.

Yet despite that obvious disadvantage that would have discouraged so many less daring cultures, you have managed to acquire a not inconsiderable wealth of knowledge about your solar system. Not only that, but after being alerted by the reception of your first signals we as well detected one of your fragile, small space probes, about to start crossing the gulf among the stars in a journey taking even longer than slow-moving radio waves to reach any neighboring
stellar system.

Yes, you have done so much with so little, and defiantly refuse to let the limitations of your current science and technology stop a noble quest for knowledge we have but to admire, and—why not?—envy.

That is why we have decided to reach out to such a deserving young culture as yours, and help you get caught up with the mainstream civilizations in the galaxy. Everything we have attained, every piece of knowledge our combined efforts have laboriously gathered about the universe, the forces affecting it, and their peaceful use for the benefit of all sentient races, will be yours as well.

Who knows the heights your culture will then attain, with both our common shared knowledge and your enterprising spirit—the entire universe will gain in the end.

Our scientists have concluded this task can be completed in the course of no more than two of your generations, even allowing for an understandable cultural shock—which we are confident will be brief and easily overcome, in such a vibrant and original-thinking civilization as yours—and the necessary speeding up of your mental processes.

Operations are therefore in motion; we cannot wait to welcome you to our community of sentient races. Devices we have dispatched to your Earth by means orders of magnitude faster than your electromagnetic wave messages, and which you will notice all around you as you receive this our message, are already at work causing the mild mutations that will very soon allow you to absorb knowledge at an accelerated rate, and also develop what you call ESP capabilities.

There is nothing to fear: the process is both painless and instantaneous, and even physically there will not be any noticeable variations, with the exception of one rather insignificant detail. Our philosophers and psychologists all agree you will conceivably even consider it an added bonus.

On arrival of this message—and the ensuing activation of the devices— individuals of your race will no longer be divided into two sexes.

The science story that inspired this story: A New Batch of Anomalous Repeating Extragalactic-Signals