Thursday, May 3, 2007

"Big Game Hunt" (short story): How about playing God?

This story is very similar to "Patent Pending". Both the device involved & principles involved are the same; but application is different.

Story summary (spoiler).
While understanding ECG maps of nervous system are very difficult, we know that they do represent the mental activity.

Here is the thesis of this story: Suppose I record the ECG of some lowly creature while it is doing some very simple activity - like a slug taking a right turn. Can I then drive this creature to do this activity at my pleasure by simply playing back this recording? Sounds like it will interest some pervert, but that is what this story is about.

Our inventor is happy doing these experiments beginning with very low forms of life, & then moving up the chain of life. Until an entrepreneur gets interested.

The entrepreneur actually has very modest intentions, given the scope of the machine. He simply wants to film the Clarke's favorite monster, the giant squid, in convenient surroundings & at leisure.

PS: Actually, the device described is slightly different: you need to fit electrodes physically into the nervous issue of animal, if I recall correctly. But that doesn't change anything basic about the story. And the final hunt is anyway remotely done.

Fact sheet.
Big Game Hunt, short story, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
First published: 1954
Rating: B

See also.

  1. "Patent Pending": This story also has a similar ECG recording & playback device, but it is intended for distributing porn.
  2. "The Ultimate Melody": This story is similar in that a device is used to tinker with electrical activity of the brain. But the control is exercised through auditory signals rather than clumsy electrodes.
  3. "The Deep Range": Another story that devotes a side track to a hunt for the giant squid. Here, the squid is captures to become an exhibit in a zoo.
The story appears in the following collections.
  1. "Tales from the White Hart"
  2. "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"

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