Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Some time after 3200 c.e., Jinn and Phyllis are on a recreational ride in their specially designed spacecraft when they notice a bottle drifting near them. Inside it they find a long message written in “the language of the Earth.” They are startled to find that it repeatedly refers to humans as intelligent beings. Ulysse Mérou, a young French journalist, wrote the message, which relates the story of his experiences.
In 2500, Ulysse accompanies the wealthy Professor Antelle and Levain on a privately funded expedition to a planet of the star Betelguese. The passengers on Antelle’s spaceship will experience the round-trip journey as taking two years in each direction. However—because of the relativistic effects of stopping at the destination planet and turning around to come home—when they return, about seven hundred years will have passed on Earth.
The travelers reach their destination safely. The atmosphere seems breathable. Exiting their craft, the men soon see a small human footprint on the shore of a lake. A gorgeous, naked young woman appears and dives into the water. The explorers name her Nova. She fears the men until they remove their clothes. Then, she frolics near them but seems unable to speak, and she kills their pet chimpanzee.
A band of wild humans peers furtively from the underbrush. Finding the earthmen’s clothes on the bank, they tear them into shreds and damage the...
(The entire section is 1025 words.)
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