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Appendix 15, Number 2. The Agent Probii Exploration

WHEN DISCOVERY WAS MADE of this planet—the ninth one to which the iotafying machines had sent survivors, millennia ago—the first thing we did was to confirm that its inhabitants were in fact human. Aside from a few small mutations, such as growth of the outer ear and an elongation of the fingers, it was determined that they remained perfectly human. The second thing was to decipher the language in which they communicated, a feat that proved far more difficult than anticipated— not because decoding it seemed impossible, or because they spoke more than one language (a perfectly human possibility), but because what we found defied the very notion of “language.”

The planet was discovered by Agent Probii, one of our best, who, despite having undertaken extraordinary research, was unable to draw the conclusions that would have saved his life. This report is based on his data.

Agent Probii’s first days as undercover agent were particularly disconcerting because the city (if it can be so called) to which he arrived was lacking in stable landmarks: where one day there was a paved corner, later that night he found a wasteland; where there hadbeen a streetlight, the following morning he found just a box of cats. Eventually he understood that this urban transience (if indeed we can employ this adjective or that noun) itself informed him of precisely what he was looking for.

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About Boston Review

Paperback, 128 pages “All history,” writes Maximillian Alvarez in his contribution to this issue, “is the history of empire—a bid for control of that greatest expanse of territory, the past.” Evil Empire confronts these histories head-on, exploring the motivations, consequences, and surprising resiliency of empire and its narratives. Contributors grapple with the economic, technological, racial, and rhetorical elements of U.S. power and show how the effects are far-reaching and, in many ways, self-defeating. Drawing on a range of disciplines—from political science to science fiction—our authors approach the theme with imagination and urgency, animated by the desire to strengthen the fight for a better future. Featuring Nikhil Pal Singh, Arundhati Roy interviewed by Avni Sejpal, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Yuri Herrera translated by Lisa Dillman, Pankaj Mishra interviewed by Wajahat Ali, Frank Pasquale, Adom Getachew, Maximillian Alvarez, Jeanne Morefield, Michael Kimmage, Stuart Schrader, Marisol LeBrón, and Mark Bould.

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