‘Limulus’ is a speculative fiction about the encounter between a piece of ocean debris (a deflated mylar balloon), a horseshoe crab and a 1974 Seeburg ‘Olympian’ jukebox. It addresses two kinds of obsolescence – one, a redundant music machine, the other the once indispensable horseshoe crab whose extinction by over-fishing has been stayed so it’s blood can be harvested for a clotting agent with widespread pharmaceutical use. With synthetic alternatives available the horseshoe crab’s protection is at risk but the contrasting timescales of the two – one machine made history in decades, the other under threat after 450 million years on this earth – gives pause for thought; both about our relationship with the non-human and of our own finitude as a species.
Further to addressing the act of storytelling and formal categories like the allegory or the fable, ‘Limulus’, reflects pressing ecological realities and the way that conceptions of the ‘natural world,’ elemental force and deep time are affected by them. Focusing on oceanic life and the demands on it of human industries, it highlights the interface between scientific fact and mythic fiction in human understanding of the world.
A note on sound: The narrator’s voice was made possible by the Cornell Ornithology Laboratory who provided vocalization of 15 different animals, which were spliced together to make a “voice”.