Thursday, 10 November 2016

Alien Species

An Australian Intelligence officer who has been in Japan for ten years advises James Bond:

"'...get it into your head that the Japanese are a separate human species.'"
-Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice (London, 1965), p. 42.

(This would be a science fictional idea if developed further.) Of course the Japanese are not a separate species but what he means is that there are fundamental cultural and psychological differences. We are one dynamic, plastic species, changing our natural and social environments and thus ourselves. One theory held that homo sapiens had evolved separately in both Africa and China but now it is understood that we had a single origin, wherever it was.

Writers of historical fiction, like readers of futuristic science fiction, have to envisage a society different from their own. Sf writers might start to imagine human-alien contact by first considering, e.g., European-Japanese contact. In Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, human beings meet many other intelligent species outside the Solar System and, by the end of the series, human populations on extrasolar colony planets have adapted to different environments and ceased to be human. What the Australian said about the Japanese has become true elsewhere.

For the final confrontation with his enemy, Aycharaych, Dominic Flandry must find the coordinates of the planet Chereion, then lead a raid deep into Merseian space and onto the surface of Chereion. For the final confrontation with his enemy, Blofeld, James Bond must approach a rocky promontory by sea and scale the wall of the estate surrounding the Castle of Death. Chereion is bombarded and the Castle explodes.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

While I agree some planets changed humans enough that the descendants of the original colonists could no longer interbreed with humans from other planets (such as the Kirkasanters we see in "Starfog), that did not mean they were no longer of the species Homo sapiens. I would argue as well that the peoples of most human colonized planets in the Technic series remain capable of having children with each other.