Friday, 4 November 2016

Human Beings On Avalon

What would human beings look like after generations and centuries of living on an extrasolar planet? Probably like some of the aliens that have been imagined: a humanoid form with visible differences. Jack Cohen argued that a native Martian would not be a humanoid tall and thin (because of low gravity), with large chest (for breathing a thin atmosphere), covered in fur (because of the cold) because that is a human being adapted to Mars, not an organism that evolved on Mars.

But, if we are talking about human colonists of other planets, then maybe we can deduce some of their characteristics. In Larry Niven's Known Space future history, Jinxians have black skin from centuries of living under Sirius, not necessarily because their ancestors were African.

Poul Anderson's Daniel Holm, in the olive tunic and baggy trousers of a human member of the Ythrian armed forces, displays evidence of both mongoloid and caucasoid descent but what of the centuries that his more recent ancestors have spent on Avalon? I would expect that also to affect his appearance.


David Birr said...

Similar to the Jinxians, S.M. Stirling, in *War World*, an anthology series set in an offshoot of the Niven/Pournelle CoDominium future, mentioned a planet settled primarily or even solely by Afrikaners. After several centuries under its particularly bright sun, their hair was still mostly blond, but their skins were VERY dark. (I think it was also a heavy-gravity world.) They were deadly fighters; something like Draka without the slavery.

PA contributed a story, "The Deserter," to the first book.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think you missed what seems to me an obvious point: VERY terrestroid planets like Avalon won't be putting pressure on human beings to physically change. Why should they if planets like Esperance, Hermes, or even Aeneas and Dennitza are actually quite comfortable for humans? We DO see humans taking on some "Jinxian" characteristics on the heavy gravity planet Imhotep in THE GAME OF EMPIRE.


Anonymous said...

Kaor, Sean!

It's been some years, but are you sure about the "without slavery" part? IIRC, the convicts and other transportees sent to that world became de facto slaves.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Nicholas!

Ummm, this time I was the one mistaken for someone else! (Smiles)

But, yes, in Co-Dominium times the Bureau of Relocation (BuReloc) exiled many involuntary transportees to various colonial planets. On some, like Tanith, they did become de facto slaves. I'm not sure about Haven (Warworld), however. I am pretty sure some of the societies on that planet practiced slavery, esp. after the First Empire of Man collapsed.

Regards! Sean

David Birr said...

What I meant by "without the slavery" was that this particular Afrikaner-descended group on Haven didn't seek to enslave people — or at any rate, not in anything resembling the aggressive, "everybody's-our-prey" style the Draka did. They MERGED with a village of farmers to become the HaBandari tribe against a common enemy. That enemy, the Saurons (created by Jerry Pournelle), were rather Draka-like themselves.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, DAVID!

Not only that, the ha-Bandari comprised two different peoples: a community of Baptist-like Protestants and Jews.

And if Jerry Pournelle had shown us the Saurons in as much detail as did Stirling with his Draka I'm sure they would have been just as vile and loathsome as the other.