“The eleg are stupid,” said Nrusco.
“This has been noticed already,” said Vaareng. “Your simple proclamation does not do justice to the full matter. The eleg are not simply stupid. They are voluminously stupid, fluorescently stupid, pyroclastically stupid.”
“Yet they have invented bows and arrows, sewing, and basic agriculture,” said Nrusco.
“They have achieved the barest minimum of technology that one could achieve and be considered to have any technology at all,” said Vaareng.
“But they are too stupid to do so,” said Nrusco.
“What? Are you saying that some off-world power came and taught them these things? And, being too stupid, they forgot to mythologize it? Or are you saying that they used to be smarter but degenerated somehow?” cried Vaareng.
“Those are possible, I suppose. More likely, the occasional eleg is born somewhat smarter than the others, by chance, and invents a thing,” said Nrusco.
“Ah. But would not the inexorable process of evolution quickly concentrate and amplify their intellect?”
“Only if it were a reproductive advantage to be smart. Given that eleg seem to form exclusive pair bonds, it is not clear that a bit of intellect helps them reproduce. So evolution has no wind to ride,” said Nrusco.
“A pity. They are horrible company,” said Vaareng.
“We could provide it a wind. We could, say, kill off the stupidest of the adults. We could provide healing only for the smartest. We could institute a program of selective breeding, where the smartest marry the smartest, and the stupidest are sterilized,” said Nrusco.
“This would take quite a long time to work,” said Vaareng.
“We are going to be here for quite a long time,” said Nrusco. “We might as well do something that could give us some long-term benefit.”
“Very well. I shall do my part in this cultivation of the eleg!” cried Vaareng.
Ethical Considerations of Selective Breeding
There are serious ethical issues involved in doing a large-scale selective breeding program of intelligent persons. Especially killing off the stupidest ones. (Practical considerations too — I never got a good answer about how they measured intelligence. Badly, probably: it’s a slippery thing to measure under the best of circumstances, and their circumstances are close to the worst.)
But if the four drakes ever thought about the ethical issues, or considered for a moment that mass slaughter of the idiots was a matter one might reasonably have second thoughts about, they never told me, even when I asked directly.
Nor did most draconic readers of early drafts of this text. Csirnis and Itharieth did, of course, and Nrararn too, for which I am surprised and delighted.
But on the whole we are a vicious and horrible species. Me as much as any other dragon.Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.