"The obvious target for any attempt at communication is one's peers."
November 22, 2021 5:43 AM   Subscribe

"The Case for Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant" by Slant is a 4-part fanfic responding to "Expert judgment on markers to deter inadvertent human intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant" (the "this place is not a place of honor" report).

From the story:
Eleventh Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox

Despite our discoveries, and continued good health, morale is flagging as the members of the expedition spend extended periods in the man-made awkwardness of the Site. I have increased hunting detail and given the surveyors the task of creating accurate maps of the surrounding land to give them all a chance to get out from under the Site. The persistent engraving of anguished faces on virtually every surface got to young Peasforth last night and he attacked the wall nearest to the camp with a pry-bar. I can't say as I blame him - I should perhaps have left the cubes closest to the camp covered with green things. Anyhow, having wrenched one carving down, he exposed another, in better repair, as it had been shielded from the elements. I cannot imagine but that the Architects chose this scheme solely to crush the lad's spirit.
And:
In the effort to communicate the message to leave the alleged waste alone, the pre-Discontinuity civilisation has made an overwhelmingly large investment to mark the Site, but they do not explain why they chose to incur these additional costs. We are therefore left uncertain as to their motivations. Without this data it is impossible to fully trust their apparently nonsensical investment.
posted by brainwane (21 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
See also The Writing on The Wall (previously)
posted by persona at 6:05 AM on November 22


There's a real place sort of like this, just outside Cincinnati. Up until 1989, the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center produced uranium fuel cores for nuclear weapons. After the surrounding community found out the plant was leaking uranium into the air and water, it was closed down and cleaned up, at a cost of several billion dollars. The nastiest stuff was gathered up and shipped to other facilities, but the lower-level waste, many tons of contaminated soil and other debris, are buried on site under an only slightly menacing earth-work.

Despite the fact that the site will be unfit for human habitation and require environmental monitoring (best official government estimate:) forever, there is no Landscape of Thorns, no Forbidding Blocks, no Spikes Bursting Through Grid. Instead there's a welcome sign! And a visitor center! It's now a nature preserve. And a pretty nice one! We saw some Northern Shovelers. Only if you're a nerd and actually read the informational signs here and there would you even notice something is up. I guess maybe the nature trail that ends in a barbed wire fence and a sign "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY" also might raise some questions.

There's even an official viewing platform with coin-op binoculars for the big mound of radioactive dirt.
posted by steveminutillo at 6:58 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]



Spoilers
Funny how in part 3 the report suggests that those sneaky ancients put up these attention-grabbing megaliths for a reason. Maybe to misdirect their attention towards ground sensing technology and away from something else.

Implying they start developing other unknown technology, which for whatever reason causes the next discontinuity. People are curious and can be kept safe only temporarily.

posted by otherchaz at 7:08 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


I have never before considered the concept of fanfic based on nonfiction sources. Wonderful!
posted by DSime at 7:13 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Instead there's a welcome sign! And a visitor center!

Maybe the visitor center "staff" are secretly members of an esoteric cabal sworn to defend the site's integrity, and if failing that, to avenge its desecration.
posted by otherchaz at 7:14 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


I like to sing Don't Change Color, Kitty with random cat colors, so you can blame this all on me.

Don't change color, kitty
Keep your color kitty
Stay that pretty teal

The radiation - whatever that is
Is something we can't appeal

posted by Zarkonnen at 7:19 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Maybe the visitor center "staff" are secretly members of an esoteric cabal sworn to defend the site's integrity, and if failing that, to avenge its desecration.


If we want to get the WIPP deterrence project right, gathering data at Fernald makes sense.
posted by ocschwar at 7:23 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Maybe the visitor center "staff" are secretly members of an esoteric cabal sworn to defend the site's integrity, and if failing that, to avenge its desecration.

When I got there, there were some people walking around with clipboards. I overheard a guy giving a report to a very stern woman:

"Johnson's people want access to area 7."
   "Let them go through channels."
"And this morning we found the northeast gate was unlocked."
   "WELL I CAN'T BE F#*$&ING EVERYWHERE AT ONCE!"
posted by steveminutillo at 7:41 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


I have never before considered the concept of fanfic based on nonfiction sources. Wonderful!

They are usually my favorite part of Yuletide -- WIPP is a regular appearer, and Ea-nasir and his tablets too. Or random Youtube nature videos.
posted by tavella at 7:45 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


The long-time nuclear waste warning page is one of my favorite wikipedia pages.

This place is a message... and part of a system of messages... pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.

What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location... it increases towards a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

posted by subdee at 7:54 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


One last memory: My wife had found Fernald on a list of birding sites along our travel route, so I had no idea what lurked beneath the surface until we got there. As we walked down "Weapons to Wetlands" trail I was furiously googling and excitedly telling her about the site history and trying to explain the whole 10,000 year communication thing while she was trying to focus on the birds. Reality finally cleaved in two for me when we got to a stone monument inscribed "Honoring the leaders behind the Fernald cleanup".

"But... I thought this was NOT.... a place... of honor!!??!?!"
posted by steveminutillo at 8:06 AM on November 22 [15 favorites]


Landfills, sewage treatment plants, nuclear waste sites, there is no place birders won't bird.
posted by mollweide at 8:08 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


This is like a whole category on Etsy.
posted by credulous at 8:53 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]


I can’t tell if those Etsy entries are human-created or pure algorithmic shovelware.
posted by clew at 9:24 AM on November 22


Shades of Always Coming Home, here, which is always great.
posted by Kreiger at 10:05 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


This is like a whole category on Etsy.

Hell, I've done a couple of lino pieces about it. But yeah, the primary genre on etsy seems to be "plausibly machine-generated Live Laugh Love shitpost".
posted by cortex at 10:08 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]




Hooray for weird Yuletide fics coming up on Metafilter!
posted by Tesseractive at 10:56 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Talking Heads - "This Must Be The Place of Honor (Extremely Naive Melody)"
posted by credulous at 11:17 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


I love that the appendix includes a citation for Mass Effect's Jack's secret files, which incorporates part of the warning ("A warning/ This is not a place of honor/ No esteemed dead are buried here") into her pseudonymously published poetry.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:55 AM on November 22


Kinda want to print out those signs and attach them to Confederate monuments.
posted by stevis23 at 12:28 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


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