"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
- Arthur C. Clarke
||A zoo that brings together plants and animals from many planets.
BuSab agent Jorj McKie enjoyed restful moments at a very dangerous park.
|The park covered about thirty hectares, deep in a well of Bureau buildings. It was a scrambling hodgepodge of plantings cut by wide paths which circled and twisted through specimens from every inhabited planet of the known universe. No care had been taken to provide a particular area for any sentient species. If there was any plan to the park it was a maintenance plan with plants requiring similar conditions and care held in their own sectors. Giant Spear Pines from Sasak occupied a knoll near one corner surrounded by mounds of Flame Briar from Rudiria. There were bold stretches of lawn and hidden scraps of lawn, and some flat stretches of greenery which were not lawns at all but mobile sheets of predatory leaf imprisoned behind thin moats of caustic water.
Rain-jeweled flowers often held McKie's attention to the exclusion of all else. There was a single planting of Lilium Grossa, its red blossoms twice his height casting long shadows over a wriggling carpet of blue Syringa, each miniature bloom opening and closing at random like tiny mouths gasping for air.
Sometimes, floral perfumes stopped his progress and held him in a momentary olfactory thralldom while his eyes searched out the source. As often as not, the plant would be a dangerous one - a flesh eater or poison-sweat variety. Warning signs in flashing Galach guarded such plantings. Sonabarriers, moats, and force fields edged the winding paths in many areas.
McKie had a favorite spot in the park, a bench with its back to a fountain where he could sit and watch the shadows collect across fat yellow bushes from the floating islands of Tandaloor. The yellow bushes thrived because their roots were washed in running water hidden beneath the soil and renewed by the fountain. Beneath the yellow bushes there were faint gleams of phosphorescent silver enclosed by a force field and identified by a low sign:
"Sangeet Mobilus, a blood-sucking perennial from Bisaj. Extreme danger to all sentient species. Do not intrude any portion of your body beyond the force field."
As he sat on the bench, McKie thought about that sign. The universe often mixed the beautiful and the dangerous. This was a deliberate mixture in the park. The yellow bushes, the fragrant and benign Golden Iridens, had been mingled with Sangeet Mobilus. The two supported each other and both thrived. The ConSentient government which McKie served often made such mixtures... sometimes by accident.
|From The Dosadi Experiment,
by Frank Herbert.
Published by Berkley Putnam in 1977
Additional resources -
Roger Zelazny also described a zoo with alien animals in his 1982 novel Eye of Cat, he called it the Interstellar Life Institute, right next to the San Diego Zoo. The animals were trapped or confined as follows "the wire-furred wullabree in a pen of ultra-sonics, the twilpa in an ice-pit, four outan in a vortex of odors..."
Compare to Dream Park from Niven and Barnes' 1981 book Dream Park, boomer park from Bart Kosko's 1987 novel Nanotime and King's Free Park from Larry Niven's 1972 story Cloak of Anarchy.
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