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只为认真做自己

阿西莫夫短篇小说:绿斑

How much time, Weiss wondered, had Saybrook had to observe the strange law and order on the planet?-the fact that insects kept their numbers reasonable, though no birds ate them; that the rodent-like things did not swarm, though no carnivores existed to keep them in check.

韦斯不知道塞布鲁克花了多长时间来观察这个星球上奇异的规则与秩序。虽然没有吃虫的鸟,昆虫的数量却控制在合理的范围;虽然没有肉食性动物,那些类似啮齿类的动物也不会过度繁殖。

And then there had come the incident of the white rats.

然后便发生了大白鼠事件。

That prodded Weiss. He said, “Oh, one correction, Drake. Hamsters were not the first animals involved. It was the white rats.”

这提醒了韦斯。他说:“哦,德雷克,有个地方要改正。第一只牵涉到的动物不是仓鼠,是大白鼠。”

“White rats,” said Drake, making the correction in his notes.

“大白鼠。”德雷克边说边修改他的笔记。

“Every colonizing ship,” said Weiss, “takes a group of white rats for the purpose of testing any alien foods. Rats, of course, are very similar to human beings from a nutritional viewpoint. Naturally, only female white rats are taken.”

“每一艘远征船,”韦斯说道,“都要带一群大白鼠用来试验外星上的食物,因为从饮食的角度看大鼠和人类很相似。当然了,只能带母鼠。”

Naturally. If only one sex was present, there was no danger of unchecked multiplication in case the planet proved favorable. Remember the rabbits in Australia.

当然了,如果遇上一个适宜的星球,只有一种性别的话就不用担心会无限制地繁殖。还记得澳大利亚的兔子吧。

“Incidentally, why not use males?” asked Drake.

“顺便问一句,为什么不能带公的呢?”德雷克问。

“Females are hardier,” said Weiss, “which is lucky, since that gave the situation away. It turned out suddenly that all the rats were bearing young.”

“母鼠耐受能力比较强。”韦斯说。“而且幸运就幸运在这儿,因为真相是靠她们暴露的。突然有一天所有的大鼠都怀孕了。”

“Right. Now that’s where I’m up to, so here’s my chance to get some things straight. For my own information, Doc, how did Saybrook find out they were in a family way?”

“对,我刚刚写到这儿,正好问个清楚。博士,我就想知道,塞布鲁克是怎么发现她们要当妈妈了的呢?”

“Accidentally, of course. In the course of nutritional investigations, rats are dissected for evidence of internal damage. Their condition was bound to be discovered. A few more were dissected; same results. Eventually, all that lived gave birth to young-with no male rats aboard!”

“当然是无意中发现的。营养学研究的过程中为了检查有没有内部损伤,要对大鼠作解剖。所以必然会发现她们的情况。再解剖了几只也是一样的结果。最后所有活着的大鼠都生了小老鼠(佳人微信公众号:jiarenorg),而船上一只公鼠都没有!”

“And the point is that all the young were born with little green patches of fur instead of eyes.”

“关键在于,所有的小老鼠都没有眼睛,只有两个长着绿毛的斑点。”

“That is correct. Saybrook said so and we corroborate him. After the rats, the pet cat of one of the children was obviously affected. When it finally kittened, the kittens were not born with closed eyes but with little patches of green fur. There was no tomcat aboard.

“没错,塞布鲁克是这么说的,我们也证实了这一点。除了大鼠,一个小孩的宠物猫也显然受到了影响,最后生出来的小猫也没有眼睛,只有两块绿毛。而船上也没有公猫。

“Eventually Saybrook had the women tested. He didn’t tell them what for. He didn’t want to frighten them. Every single one of them was in the early stages of pregnancy, leaving out of consideration those few who had been pregnant at the time of embarkation. Saybrook never waited for any child to be born, of course. He knew they would have no eyes, only shining patches of green fur.

“最后塞布鲁克让所有的女人都受了检查。他没告诉她们是检查什么,他不想吓到她们。她们每一个人都处于怀孕初期,除了那些上船的时候就已经怀孕了的。塞布鲁克当然不会等到孩子出生。他知道他们不会有眼睛,只会有两块亮闪闪的绿毛。

“He even prepared bacterial cultures (Saybrook was a thorough man) and found each bacillus to show microscopic green spots.”

“塞布鲁克做事非常彻底。他甚至还培养了细菌,然后发现每个细菌都有微乎其微的绿点。”

Drake was eager. “That goes way beyond our briefing-or, at least, the briefing I got. But granted that life on Saybrook’s Planet is organized into a unified whole, how is it done?”

德雷克激动难耐,道:“这在简介上可看不到,至少我拿到的简介没有。但是就算是塞布鲁克星上的生命联合成了一个整体,它们是怎么做到的呢?”

“How? How are your cells organized into a unified whole? Take an individual cell out of your body, even a brain cell, and what is it by itself? Nothing. A little blob of protoplasm with no more capacity for anything human than an amoeba. Less capacity, in fact, since it couldn’t live by itself. But put the cells together and you have something that could invent a spaceship or write a symphony.”

“怎么做到的?你自己的细胞是怎么联合成一个整体的?把一个单独的细胞从你身体里拿出来,即便是个脑细胞,它算是个什么?什么也不是。一个原生质体和一个变形虫一样,没有任何属于人类的功能。实际上还比不上变形虫,因为它没法单独存活。但是所有细胞集合起来,这个整体就能建造宇宙飞船或者是创作交响乐。”

“I get the idea,” said Drake.

“我大概明白了。”德雷克说。

Weiss went on, “All life on Saybrook’s Planet is a single organism. In a sense, all life on Earth is too, but it’s a fighting dependence, a dog-eat-dog dependence. The bacteria fix nitrogen; the plants fix carbon; animals eat plants and each other; bacterial decay hits everything. It comes full circle. Each grabs as much as it can, and is, in turn, grabbed.

韦斯继续说道,“塞布鲁克星上的所有生命是一个有机体。某种意义上说,地球上的所有生命也是,但是我们是靠竞争、靠狗咬狗来维系的。细菌同化氮,植物同化碳(佳人微信公众号:jiarenorg);动物吃植物或者互相吃;细菌再把一切腐烂分解掉。这形成一个完整的环。每一个都能吃多少吃多少,而每一个自己也会被吃。

“On Saybrook’s Planet, each organism has its place, as each cell in our body does. Bacteria and plants produce food, on the excess of which animals feed, providing in turn carbon dioxide and nitrogenous wastes. Nothing is produced more or less than is needed. The scheme of life is intelligently altered to suit the local environment. No group of life forms multiplies more or less than is needed, just as the cells in our body stop multiplying when there are enough of them for a given purpose. When they don’t stop multiplying, we call it cancer. And that’s what life on Earth really is, the kind of organic organization we have, compared to that on Saybrook’s Planet. One big cancer. Every species, every individual doing its best to thrive at the expense of every other species and individual.”

“但在塞布鲁克星上,每个生物都有自己的位置,就像每个细胞在身体里都有自己的位置一样。细菌和植物制造养分,多余的部分喂养动物,而动物给它们提供二氧化碳和含氮的排泄物。需要多少,生产多少。根据当地的环境,明智地变化生命的形式。没有哪种生物比需要的数量多或者少,就好像我们体内的细胞达到了足够的数量时就不会再繁殖了一样。如果细胞不停地繁殖,就叫做癌细胞。地球上的生物实际上就是这样。我们形成的这种有机体,和塞布鲁克星上的比起来,就是一团巨大的癌细胞。每个物种,每个个体都竭尽全力地繁殖,以牺牲其他物种和个体作为代价。”

“You sound as if you approve of Saybrook’s Planet, Doc.”

“看来你好像很认同塞布鲁克星啊,博士。”

“I do, in a way. It makes sense out of the business of living. I can see their viewpoint toward us. Suppose one of the cells of your body could be conscious of the efficiency of the human body as compared with that of the cell itself, and could realize that this was only the result of the union of many cells into a higher whole. And then suppose it became conscious of the existence of free-living cells, with bare life and nothing more. It might feel a very strong desire to drag the poor thing into an organization. It might feel sorry for it, feel perhaps a sort of missionary spirit. The things on Saybrook’s Planet-or the thing; one should use the singular-feels just that, perhaps.”

“某种程度上,是的。那样的生存方式才合乎情理。我能理解它们是怎么看待我们的。假设你身体里有一个细胞能意识到人体和一个单独的细胞相比是多么有效率,能意识到是由于许许多多的细胞联合起来才形成了一个高等的整体。再假设这个细胞发现世界上还有单细胞生物的存在,它们除了活着什么也做不了,这个细胞多半会产生一种强烈愿望,想把这些可怜的家伙拉入它的组织。它会同情它们,觉得这么做是它的使命。塞布鲁克星上的那些生物——也许应该说,那个生物——大概也是这么想的。”

“And went ahead by bringing about virgin births, eh, Doc? I’ve got to go easy on that angle of it. Post-office regulations, you know.”

“于是它们就着手实施单性生殖喽?这个部分我得写得小心点。相关政策,你懂的。”

“There’s nothing ribald about it, Drake. For centuries we’ve been able to make the eggs of sea urchins, bees, frogs, et cetera develop without the intervention of male fertilization. The touch of a needle was sometimes enough, or just immersion in the proper salt solution. The thing on Saybrook’s Planet can cause fertilization by the controlled use of radiant energy. That’s why an appropriate energy barrier stops it; interference, you see, or static.

“这并没有什么不雅的,德雷克。几千年前我们就有办法孵化没受过精的海胆、蜜蜂、青蛙等等的卵了。有时候用针点一下就行,有时候是泡在适当浓度的盐溶液里。而塞布鲁克星上的那个东西能利用辐射能来引发受孕。这就是为什么能用能障屏蔽,能障产生了电磁波干涉或者是静电干扰。

“They can do more than stimulate the division and development of an unfertilized egg. They can impress their own characteristics upon its nucleo-proteins, so that the young are born with the little patches of green fur, which serve as the planet’s sense organ and means of communication. The young, in other words, are not individuals, but become part of the thing on Saybrook’s Planet. The thing on the planet, not at all incidentally, can impregnate any species-plant, animal, or microscopic.”

“它们不仅仅能刺激未受精卵分裂和发育,它们还能改变核蛋白来写入它们自己的性状,所以生出来的小动物都长着绿斑。在那个星球上,这种长绿毛的斑就是感觉和通讯器官。换句话说,那些小动物已经不是单独的个体了,已经成为了塞布鲁克星上那个生物的一部分。最重要的是,塞布鲁克星上的那个东西能影响任何物种,不管是植物、动物还是微生物。”

“Potent stuff,” muttered Drake.

“太强大了。”德雷克嘟哝道。

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