This is the third book in a series. The story and I have both evolved during my adventure into writing Science Fiction. You can find the first two books here.
Prologue: They Called Me ‘Friend’. They Called Me ‘It’.
Firstly, I must affirm that I love my human friends, past and present. Cohl, Dab, and their crewmates were instrumental in saving our planet.
At first, they were so alien that I could not understand them. They had emotions like we do, memories like we do, but there was a layer of complexity that I could not understand because I did not have speech.
Complexity and ambiguity. Humans organize and edit their thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and experiences through language. Because of the disconnect between actual emotion and memory and the spoken word, they lie constantly, to themselves and others. They build complex logical justifications for these lies, making them so real in their own minds that they are actually capable of lying telepathically, something that was unheard of, even incomprehensible to Charans before humans arrived. We had only truth until they arrived. Now many of us are building our own structures out of lies, especially the younger Charans who have embraced implants, speech, and the written word.
Humans are often simplistic in their naming of things. At times, this makes their language easier to learn and understand. A bluebird, for example, is a blue bird. A doorknob is a knob on a door. I might call it a door opener, but doorknob is accurate and descriptive. When they first encountered Charans, they called us Deer People – actually Deer Men – because we have a superficial resemblance to an animal from Earth. Like Charans, humans are very visual when it comes to naming.
Until you get to pronouns. We Charans had no need for names or pronouns, because we communicated in images. To indicate another person, we would simply share their image. We have only one sex and gender, so we have no need to distinguish each other in that way. Humans have two sexes and multiple genders, so they have a constellation of pronouns with which to identify themselves and others. They could have chosen they/them or xe/xem to speak of us. Instead they chose “it.”
I suppose, since we had no language, this could be excused. After all, pronouns are to a great extent a matter of preference for the individual being referenced. Using appropriate pronouns, however, is also a sign of respect. Even when referring to Terran animals, humans refer to them as “he” or “she” if they know the sex of the animal in question. But for me, they chose “it.” They named me “Friend,” because I was, in truth, their friend, but they designated me as “it,” no better than an inanimate object, or generic animal. They relegated me to a lesser position, inferior and disposeable.
I understand that this was not their intent, and I forgive them for it, but it does indicate the self-centered and thoughtless way in which humans use language to elevate themselves at the expense of others.