‘Rothschild’s Giraffe’ and the Little Brown Job

On the basis (a) of Chris Jones’s call for blogs and (b) that this blog may well be better than my story ‘Rothschild’s Giraffe’, here goes. (It’s not so much a blog as a plea for redemption.)

The suggested timeline for The Singularity included one event that intrigued me very much viz. the resurrection of extinct animal species, and I suspected this topic would not find too much favour (extinct animals vs. sex-bots? – I’m not a gambling man but I know where I’d lay my bot bet).

The obvious thing would be to go for the resurrection of Big Beasts, so to try and subvert that I asked a friend who is a Senior Curator at the Natural History Museum what he thought to be the drabbest, dullest, (most pointless?) thing to bring back from extinction. He suggested the Aldabra Brush Warbler, a Little Brown Job (LBJ) declared extinct in the early 1980s. He even showed me a preserved specimen, and it was indeed drab, dull, little, and brown. So that was the basis of my first draft – all the resources and effort expended, only to bring back a LBJ. (There was a twist to the tale in that the Artificial Intelligence responsible was working behind the scenes on a much more sinister and appalling project.)

Anyway, that draft was rubbish and I was told so, quite rightly and much more politely, by those kind enough to read and comment. So I rewrote the story, made the giraffe of the title a little more of a feature (it never appeared in the first version), and counterpointed the vainglorious, fallible humans with the cold and calculating AI for which the end justifies the means.

I like the final result, especially the maladjusted and monstrously privileged Blanche, Duchess of Albuquerque, and whilst this has been said countless times before, if not for the Create 50 model the story would not have progressed beyond the first spavined draft.

Why Rothschild’s giraffe over the other sub-species of giraffe? Because I like the name, because it is my signature giraffe, and because it has the most ossicones.

Everyone should have a signature giraffe.

And the Aldabra Brush Warbler does make a very brief appearance in the final version of the story. It’s my tiny tribute to all the overlooked LBJ’s of the world. Nothing deserves extinction, even if some things are patently more spectacular and compelling than others. That’s why ‘Jurassic Park’ is about dinosaurs, not warblers.

Finally, whilst behind-the-scenes at the museum, my friend showed me the rows and rows of drawers and cabinets being prepared to hold the specimens of all the extinct species within the collection. All the loss: it’s heart breaking, relentless, and it’s happening now.

So…

Viva the LBJ’s!

Richie Brown.

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