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Sep 29, 2015

Earth-Space War

cover art by Philippe Cazaumayou
I've previously blogged about the fact that I never read Isaac Asimov's mystery novel, The Caves of Steel. Just to be clear, I've also never read The Naked Sun. In his recent review of The Naked Sun, "The Kalpar" wrote that he read it after having previously read Asimov's Foundation and Earth. Asimov's 1986 novel contains a huge spoiler for the mystery of the "disappearing" Solarians (a mystery left dangling in Asimov's robot novels). That's the kind of unfortunate time warp that readers of Asimov's fiction can now fall into. Folks should read Asimov's novels in the order that they were written.

Asimov's Struggle with Aliens
Foundations of Eternity
The Kalpar's review of Foundation and Earth is worth reading. I think Asimov was himself a bit dismayed by the prospect of Galaxia as a possible type of future for Humanity. I'd label the entire Foundation Fictional Universe as dystopian.

And there is nothing wrong with readers being a bit annoyed to see Asimov paint himself into a corner with respect to mysterious unseen aliens from beyond our galaxy. The whole "humans-only-galaxy" was an artificial construct that was forced upon Asimov by a pushy editor. My response to my personal uneasiness over the klunky end of the great Foundation Saga was to write Foundations of Eternity.

Gladia
Gladia Solaria by Snyehola
Asimov introduced the character Gladia Delmarre in The Naked Sun and later brought her back to star in the two robot novels that I have read, The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire. In The Naked Sun, Police detective Baley travels from Earth to the planet Solaria in order to investigate the death of Gladia's husband.

Baley, an agoraphobic resident of Earth's underground cities, has to deal with his fears of being outside under the naked sun of Solaria. The people of Solaria have their own phobias, particularly a fear of physical contact with other people, particularly the unclean people of Earth such as Baley.

Lady Gladia by DarthCrotalus
Gladia is accustomed to viewing people by videophone and apparently Asimov wrote a scene in The Naked Sun in which Baley calls up Gladia for a chat about her dead husband and she appears on the videophone naked since she has not bothered to get dressed for the interview.

source
There are hundreds of accounts of how Asimov "predicted the future" in his science fiction stories. Now that most people have access to digital photography and ways to share their images, we are learning that many people have no qualms about putting their bodies on display. I have fun imagining that in the Ekcolir Reality (the alternative timeline that existed before the world as we know it), there never was a period in the history of Western Civilization when the human body was taboo.

Climate Fiction
I've never been able to take seriously Asimov's idea that in another 2,000 years, the people of Earth will all be living in "caves" (cities) and they all will fear being outdoors. However, for the Exode Trilogy, I've been investigating the differences between our world and Earth as it was in the Ekcolir Reality and I've learned that there were some similarities between life in the Ekcolir Reality and life in Asimov's imagined future. In the previous Reality, the Fru'wu provided Earth with a "technological fix" for global warming. In the Ekcolir Reality, due to a slightly fster rate of technological advance, sea level rise started to become a problem in the 20th century. The Fru'wu then began beaming solar energy to Earth from Mercury and with the availability of that cheap energy source, the use of fossil fuels declined dramatically and atmospheric CO2 levels stabilized.

Climate Fiction
However, the Fru'wu did not confine themselves to only providing Earth with a hierion receiver. The humans of Earth were also given some primitive nanotechnology that allowed for the creation of space elevators and orbital space colonies. Gohrlay recently filled me in on what "went wrong" and how Earth still ended up with a runaway green house effect that melted the antarctic ice cap. The Fru'wu "help" provided to Earth actually backfired.

M-hierions
the basis of super-strong materials
The Earth-Spacer Conflict
A nasty war developed between the "spacers" who lived in the orbital colonies (and were also spreading through the entire Solar System) and the people who remained on Earth. Finally, an orbiting hierion receiver was constructed and Earth was cut off from the flow of clean energy coming from Mercury. The people of Earth went back to using fossil fuels, at a rate greater than ever before.

Rockets and Ray Guns: the Golden Age of space war
Based on Gohrlay's description of events, Earth in the Ekcolir Reality had many similarities to the future that Asimov painted for The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun. The coastal cities of Earth were encased in domes and became underwater cities. Eventually the Earth-Space war ended since there was little difference in the social systems of Earth's great underwater cities and the orbital cities in space. But by the end of the war, Earth was trapped in an ecological nightmare with the oceans little more than a vast acidic wasteland.

Next: Gohrlay provides more insight into the Earth-Space war.
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Sep 27, 2015

Final Reality Change

original cover art by Earle Kulp Bergey
In previous blog posts (example) I've meandered through the science fiction vortex of sex, a thought space where writers are free to endlessly explore imagined life forms (both biological and artificial) and their attitudes about sex.

Gohrlay has been telling me tales about the creation of the science fiction genre and how science fiction was different in the Ekcolir Reality. To understand Sci Fi in the previous Reality it is of particular importance to remember that most science fiction story writers in the Ekcolir Reality were women and Western Society was heavily influenced by the Etruscans.

Recently, I was startled by Gohrlay's claim that in the Ekcolir Reality, because of a "chance" genetic event, the analogue of Jack Vance was born as a female. At first, I'd made the silly assumption that Jackie Vance was a rare fluke, but according to Gohrlay, many science fiction writers who were male in the Buld Reality had female analogs in the Ekcolir Reality.

The Secret Galactics
If this is true, then I have to re-think my idea that a "rare chance genetic" event was responsible for Jackie's existence as a female. It now seems likely that someone (Grean?) tinkered with the system for Temporal Momentum that constrained analogues to be genetically similar in the Realities of Earth's Reality Chain.

Earth Factor X
I asked Gohrlay for another example of a famous male science fiction author whose analogue was female in the Ekcolir Reality and she mentioned Alfred Elton van Vogt, who was named Anke in the Ekcolir Reality. I've never read any of van Vogt's stories, but I certainly saw his books on display in the book stores that I prowled during my formative years as a science fiction reader. He published The Secret Galactics right when I was first discovering printed science fiction novels and Earth Factor X was published as a DAW paper back in 1976. That was right when I was discovering DAW editions of Jack Vance novels such as Trullion.

Back cover blurb: the 1976 edition of Earth Factor X
The cover of Earth Factor X provides a good tutorial on why I never read any of van Vogt's stories. The cover illustration of a klunky robot and its human brain was bad enough to deflect a budding science nerd whose idea of a science fiction author was a scientist like Isaac Asimov.

The blurb on the back cover of Earth Factor X is funny. It starts with what can be read as a tongue-in cheek statement: "A.E. van Vogt ... reality twisted ... slightly." One of his writing techniques was to incorporate his night-time dreams into his stories.

science fantasy
Some critics have slammed van Vogt's writing style and I don't know if the blurb on the back cover was lifted from the text of the novel, but the next sentence in the blurb is mind-warping: "Earth shivered in a momentary absence of vibration". Yogi Berra died this week, but this sentence on the back cover of Earth Factor X could be used as a kind of tribute to the linguistically fractured comments that he was famous for. When reading Asimov, you want to turn on your brain and think logically. When reading something like "shivering absence of vibration" you need to let your semantic processing slip like a poorly adjusted clutch. To this day, I still believe that it ain't really science fiction unless you are in Asimov's kind of logical story-telling mode.

(source)
Down through the years, stories of alien invasion have been popular in science fiction. It is tempting to mock most of the "reasons" given by Sci Fi authors for alien invasions, including the idea that alien beings with advanced technology and the ability to travel across vast interstellar distances would come to Earth for our gold.

Take us to your Women
Apparently the aliens who are trying to invade and control Earth in Earth Factor X are fascinated by human females. Here is a quote provided by van Vogt that comes from an alien instruction manual for their secret agents who are being sent to Earth: "It is agreed by all: women of earth have to be experienced to be believed." As guy, I can almost buy into the male fantasy that aliens would travel across great interstellar distances in order to "experience Earth women". Almost. Isaac Asimov brilliantly turned the whole Sci Fi fantasy of alien-human sex on its head in "What Is This Thing Called Love?"

original artwork by Malcolm Hadden Smith
According to Gohrlay, Anke van Vogt was an influential publisher of science fiction novels in the Ekcolir Reality. She managed what was often called "Anke's harem", a group of mostly female authors who wrote extensively about the Time War and Grean's plans for how to end it. Two members of that harem, from two different generations, were Jackie Vance and Samantha R. Delany who often collaborated and published under the pen name Sam Jacky.

In the Ekcolir Reality.
Original artwork by L. Raymond Jones
and A. Leslie Ross
In the Ekcolir Reality, Samantha Delany's novel Equinox told the story of Grean and how "she" (actually a Kac'hin hermaphrodite) took human form and, operating from a secret base "on" the Moon (actually, within the Hierion Domain) ended the Time War and planned the Final Reality Change.

Originally published in Future Science Fiction Magazine as Equinox: Tide of Love, Samantha's story began with the arrival of aliens on the Moon. The aliens were composed of a swarm of nanorobotic components that could assemble into any desired form. After learning to take on human form, the aliens began sending "humaniform probes" to Earth. Samantha wrote amusing vignettes about how the bumbling aliens learned the fine points of human behavior, including sexual behavior.

Next: The Earth-Spacer Conflict in the Ekcolir Reality.
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Sep 26, 2015

Full Circle

Fanciful movie poster (source)
Isaac Asimov invented and developed an interesting "theory" of alternate Realities for his time travel novel The End of Eternity. In one of my favorite parts of that novel, the protagonist, Andrew Harlan, is in a library located inside Eternity. Asimov invites us to contemplate the idea that in different Realities, a famous author would write different books (Eric Linkollew, 1, 2, 3).

I've adopted Asimov's concept of a momentum of Time for use in my own Exodemic Fictional Universe. I imagine that R. Gohrlay and "her" tribe of positronic robots created an inertial amplifier for Earth. The basic idea is that the momentum of time is a natural phenomenon arising from the existence of the Sedronic Domain. In some sense, "an echo" of every Reality exists within the Sedronic Domain and that "echo" constrains the shape of any new Reality that is brought into existence.

The End of Eternity
I imagine that when the positronic robots began experimenting with time travel, they soon discovered the momentum of time and R. Gohrlay soon began trying to find ways to amplify that naturally occurring phenomenon. Since R. Gohrlay was programmed to protect and defend humans, "she" invented a technology that could automatically "amplify" the momentum of Time and make humans a fixture in all possible Realities. This amplification process involves making many "copies" of each human individual within the Hierion Domain. The existence of those "copies" insures that following a Reality Change, the same people will tend to exist in the new Reality.

In The End of Eternity, Asimov forces readers to consider the possibility that one tiny "chance" event might completely derail the flow of time. The particular example of a small chance event that was used by Asimov was as simple as Twissell's decision whether or not to ride upwhen in the time kettle with Harlan to find Noÿs. Here is how Noÿs herself describes it:

Our Reality Chain
"You were to have come back to the far upwhen...you were to have come back alone...but you came with Twissell, a chance variation."

For the Exode Trilogy, I like to imagine that R. Gohrlay carefully designed the Mallansohn Reality so that Noÿs could quickly terminate it and put an end to Eternity (the time travel "device" on Earth) and bring into existence the Foundation Reality.

When Asimov first introduces us to Noÿs she is in the role of a note-taking secretary for Computer Finge, director of the section of Eternity devoted to the 482nd century. Noÿs appears 40 pages into the novel, after Asimov has explained that Eternity is male-dominated. The Eternity time travel "device" exists in a kind of parallel universe that is outside of the normal flow of Time on Earth. Almost everyone who lives and works in Eternity is male because, for some reason not ever explained by Asimov, extracting women from the timeline of Earth is usually too disruptive.

So when Harlan lays his eyes on Noÿs, they are rather hungry eyes, simply due to the paucity of females within Eternity. However, Asimov provides some extra spice to this already provocative situation. Harlan is from the 95th century, a point in Earth's long history where women are expected to be loyal wives and good mothers. In contrast, the 482nd century is one in which women lead independent lives with no expectation that they be part of a family as devoted moms. In fact, Noÿs is depicted as a recent arrival in Eternity from the 482nd century, where she lived alone as a single woman and where the custom was that men and women routinely have casual sexual relationships, purely for pleasure. If a woman wants to be a mother, she can simply pass an egg cell on to the local Ovarium and have a baby manufactured for her.

Thus, when Harlan first lays his eyes on Noÿs, he is stunned. She is dressed as a woman of the 482nd century, "which meant transparent sheathing above the waste and flimsy, knee-length trousers below that hinted delicately at gluteal curves." Harlan can't keep his eyes off of her.

The End of Eternity
Unable to quell his fired-up emotions, Harlan flies into a rage directed at Finge. The idea that Finge might need Noÿs as his "secretary" strikes Harlan as absurd. Eternity has sophisticated recording devices and advanced computers. Harlan suspects that Finge has brought Noÿs into Eternity from the 482nd simply to be his mistress. Also, according to the customs of Eternity, under the rare conditions when an Eternal is granted permission to have a sexual "liaison", the relationship is expected to be conducted with discretion and not flaunted before the majority of Eternals who are supposed to be so busy with their work that they don't have time to think about sex.

source
For the poor suffering Harlan, things go from bad to worse. Noÿs tries to casually chat with him in a hallway, but he is so flustered by her, all he can do is hurry on past. Finally, Harlan must go with Noÿs into Time on an Observation mission and live with her in her house in the 482nd century. For a while, Harlan tries to ignore Noÿs and just do his job of collecting observations on the society of the 482nd century, but soon enough he ends up in bed with Noÿs. Later, Andrew is embarrassed to learn that women of the 482nd think that they can attain eternal life by having sex with an Eternal.

What Harlan does not realize until the end of the novel is that Noÿs is not really a woman from the 482nd century. She is a secret agent from 10,000,000 years in the future who has been sent back through time on a mission that is designed to destroy Eternity and remove time travel technology from Earth. At the end of the book, Noÿs explains to Harlan that the mere existence of Eternity is bad for Humanity, leading to a future in which humans never travel to the stars and the human species eventually dies out on Earth.
Asterothrope hermaphrodite (left)
and Asterothrope female (right).

Role Reversal
In Western literature, there is a long history of stories about fringe societies where men are excluded and women play all roles including that of warrior (see Amazons). For the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that Noÿs was actually not a human being. By 10,000,000 years in the future, R. Gohrlay had brought into existence another type of primate: the Asterothrope. Biologically, the Asterothropes were either females or hermaphrodites. The structure of Asterothrope society and the details of their reproductive biology are only hinted at in the Exode Trilogy, but the basic idea is that the Asterothropes were designed to allow for rapid population growth on newly colonized worlds.

In the Exodemic Fictional Universe, the Huaoshy long ago evolved from biological organisms, but then they re-engineered themselves as artificial life forms. The pek were programmed and sent out into the universe on a mission to find planets like Earth and preserve them as "garden worlds". The pek are always watching and waiting for the development of technologically advances creatures like we humans. In the Exode Trilogy, the human species was almost driven to extinction and replaced by an hermaphroditic primate variant (Prelands) that was designed, crafted and planted on Earth by the pek.

Grean the hermaphroditic Kac'hin.
For the pek, their engineering of hermaphroditic primates is part of their effort to prevent over-population of Earth. The main goal of the pek is develop a type of primate that will quickly abandon its biological existence and willingly be transformed into an artificial life form that transcends its physical existence in the Hadronic Domain and takes up residence within the Sedronic Domain.

In Exode, Parthney lives among the hermaphroditic Buld on the planet Hemmal in the Galactic Core. Later, his grandson, Izhiun, grows up on the planet Luk'ru in the Andromeda galaxy. The residents of Luk'ru are descendants of the Kac'hin. In the Exode Trilogy, the Kac'hin were originally created for a special purpose and then they end up playing three different important roles in the story:

Lili the Kac'hin on Earth.
1) The Kach'in (particularly Lili) are used to help merge special Asterothrope gene combinations into the human population of Earth.

2) The Kac'hin (particularly Grean) are used as a special tool by the Huaoshy to make possible an end to R. Gohrlay's positronic robot insurrection on Earth.

3) The prototypical Kac'hin, Kach, is used as the means to provide Earthlings with an understanding of Genesaunt civilization.

Both Lili and Kach are Kac'hin females. Grean is a Kac'hin hermaphrodite. Anatomically, the Kac'hin females and hermaphrodites are difficult to distinguish based on their external physical features. Upon casual inspection, both the Kac'hin females and the hermaphrodites are similar physically to human females. However, both the Kac'hin females and the hermaphrodites have no external genitalia, only an anatomically simple genital groove.

Grean (source)
Sexually active Kac'hin have conscious control of a set of skeletal muscles that can either open the posterior part of the genital groove and allow access to the two Kac'hin vaginas or, alternatively, open the anterior part of the genital groove and allow the Kac'hin penis to become erect and emerge from its recessed socket inside the groove.

The Kac'hin do not have an alimentary canal that connects from the mouth to the anus. The Kac'hin are dependent on "feeding nanites" that shuttle nutrient molecules into their crop and remove waste molecules from the Kac'hin body. Instead of an anus, the Kac'hin have a second vaginal canal. In Kac'hin females, both Kac'hin vaginas provide access to the uterus and two Fallopian tubes.

Artist's depiction of a resident of Luk'ru.
Hermaphroditic Kac'hin only have one Fallopian tube and one ovary. Their second gonad develops as an organ for the delivery of egg-like gametes through the Kac'hin penis to the external environment by ejaculation. For the Kac'hin, reproduction in the absence of technological assistance is almost impossible since so few gametes are produced. The Kac'hin of the Galactic Core reproduce by in vitro fertilization.

The people of Luk'ru reproduce in the absence of any advanced technologies being available to support in vitro fertilization, but as long-lived individuals who are kept healthy by "medical nanites", babies are very rare and the population of planet Luk'ru is in no danger of exploding.

Trysta: artist's depiction #1.
The original Kac'hin and the people of Luk'ru have facial features that are very similar to those of human females on Earth. In contrast, the Kac'hin of the Galactic Core (on planets such as Tar'tron) have long experimented with alteration to their bodily features. However, since the Kac'hin from the Galactic Core (such as Grean) who have visited Earth can control their physical appearance using facial modification nanites, it is not clear what a "typical Kac'hin" looks like or even if the concept "typical Kac'hin" is useful.

Trysta: artist's depiction #2 (source).
Similarly, it is difficult for we Earthlings to know what a "typical Asterothrope" might have looked like. Trysta was modified from the conventional Asterothrope body form so as to conform to the physical features of humans on Earth.

Even Thomas, Trysta's son, was uncertain about his mother's true appearance since she used facial nanites to alter her appearance. Over the past few years, I have used several different human models to depict Trysta in illustrations; none of these should be taken as providing a true representation of her physical features.

Most recently, I have been getting Gohrlay's perspective on many puzzling questions that remain concerning the secret history of Earth. Gohrlay refuses to comment on the question of her own true physical form and the extent to which she uses nanites to disguise herself. I get the feeling that Gohrlay long ago lost interest in mundane matters such as physical appearances.

The Man
Gohrlay and I spend much time discussing the differences between the world as we know it and the past Realities of our Reality Chain. I annoy her by asking questions like, "Did you look different in the Ekcolir Reality?"  and "What kind of science fiction stories did Asimov write in the Asimov Reality?" Most of the time Gohrlay never really answers my questions, but she does usually move our conversations in the direction of other topics that she thinks I should be more concerned about.

I've previously described some of the differences between the science fiction genre in our universe and in the Ekcolir Reality. Gohrlay claims that an extensive effort was made in the Ekcolir Reality to inform the people of Earth about the important role played by hermaphrodites in Genesaunt Civilization in general and the secret history of Earth in particular.

Tryst and Ekcolir
According to Gohrlay, there is an important connection between science fiction and certain gene combinations that are found in hermaphroditic primates such as Grean. When Grean started experimenting with ways to allow science fiction story writers to tell the secret history of Earth, "she" found that her ability to feed information to science fiction authors by way of the Bimanoid Interface was greatly facilitated by special gene combinations that are present in hermaphrodites like herself. Apparently, this "hermaphroditic fit" to the Bimanoid Interface is why the Huaoshy used Grean as their main "tool" and "interface" with humans during negotiation of the Trysta-Grean Pact.

According to Gohrlay, in order to quickly "produce" a large number of science fiction authors who could be influenced in their writing by way of the Bimanoid Interface, Grean used a virus to spread special "hermaphroditic gene combinations" through the human population of Earth.

microChance
1972 cover art by Dean Ellis.
Viruses play a special role in stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. In Exodemic, I imagined that one stray virus could alter all of human history.

HIV has played a special role in shaping events as told in Trysta and Ekcolir and Exode.

According to Gohrlay, the 1918 influenza epidemic is the "analogue" in our Reality of a "trick" that Grean used to "amplify science fiction" in an Earlier Reality. If I understand this correctly,  Grean used a genetically engineered orthomyxovirus to insert a special "hermaphroditic gene combination" into the human population  of Earth. The result? Many science fiction authors became "susceptible" to having their story writing be guided by replicoids in the Hierion Domain.

in the Ekcolir Reality
I asked Gohrlay for a specific example and she gave me several. Grean's viral intervention allowed science fiction writers like Asimov and David McIlwain to be guided towards writing certain types of stories.

I don't think I've read anything that was written by David McIlwain. He published science fiction novels such as Alph, writing under the name Charles Eric Maine. According to Gohrlay, in the Ekcolir Reality there was an series of novels by McIlwain that quite accurately described the Kac'hin and, particularly, their ability to efficiently use the Bimanoid Interface. These stories were all set in the Galactic Core and extensively documented Kac'hin culture in which there were originally no males, but then a project developed with the objective being to create a man named Ekcolir.

original cover art by Reina Mary Sington
According to Gohrlay, a major science fiction author in the Ekcolir Reality was Reina Mary Sington. Reina wrote extensively about how viruses, replicoids and the Kac'hin were being used to prepare Earth for the Final Reality. Sington was particularly good at using the Bimanoid Interface and she had contact with many science fiction writers who were "recruited into the   "The Writer's Block".

original cover art by Reina Mary Sington
When I expressed skepticism that an RNA virus would be used to insert genes into humans, Gohrlay mentioned that my own biological origins are also linked to an "echo" of Grean's use of a flu virus to quickly insert genes into the human population of Earth.

According to Gohrlay, a member of my own family died in the 1918 flu epidemic. Sadly, she refuses to tell me how that led to my being "inserted" into the Final Reality and positioned as the Editor.

Next: more science fiction novels from Deep Time.
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Sep 23, 2015

Origins of the Sedronites

humans are Sedronites
We humans are fascinated by our evolutionary origins and by speculation about our possible future fate. In this blog post I want to further explore our place in the universe and the question: exactly what type of life form are we humans?

I previously shared a diagram that illustrates the diversity of life in the known universe. My construction of that diagram was inspired by my recent conversations with Gohrlay. Gohrlay is a great source of information about such matters because of her many contacts with life forms that exist beyond our dingy little planet. Here's that diagram again (below):

fanciful depiction of the pek (source)
Most life forms in the universe are artificial life forms that are composed of non-biological components such as nanites. According to Gohrlay, we humans are actually Sedronites (see the gray circle towards the center of the diagram, above). Sedronites are hybrid organisms that are part biological and part artificial because of our zeptite endosymbionts.

According to Gohrlay, there are far more species of Sedonites than "plain Eukaryotes" in the known universe. The term "known universe" means "known to the pek". The pek are a type of artificial life that has been spreading through the universe for a couple billion years, so they have explored many galaxies.

femtobot
When the pek visit planets like Earth, they "seed" those planets with zeptites. Zeptites are very small devices that can assemble together and form artificial life forms or they can take up residence inside biological organisms. There are no "plain Eukaryotes" on Earth because all biological organisms on Earth are hybrid organisms, mixtures of biological and zeptite components.

Below, I provide a detailed summary of our human evolutionary tree.

prokaryotes
Our bodies contain eukaryotic cells with cell nuclei. In the diagram above, the red part includes the prokaryotic bacteria of earth, organisms that are composed of non-nucleated cells and, according to Gohrlay, also zeptite components.

We think of bacteria as being small life forms, but artificial life forms composed of nanites, femtobots and zeptites can be far smaller.
Source: The Open Tree of Life

Metazoa
Among all of the life forms on Earth that have eukaryotic cellular components, we humans are metazoans. There are about 1.5 million metazoan species on Earth: we humans are among the bilateria, a very successful form of animal. Unlike the fungi, we animals specialize in mobility. During the past 100,000 years humans have spread over the entire surface of planet Earth and we dream of traveling to new worlds, even distant planets in orbit around far stars.


neurulation
As chordates, we humans have a hollow dorsal nerve cord during our embryonic development, which bodes well for the development of a sophisticated central nervous system.

vertebral column
Humans are among the 64,000 vertebrate species. As bipeds, be have a specialized vertebral column to support our upright body posture and house our spinal cord. However, we are still classified among the tetrapods. Our bipedalism is only a recent evolutionary invention.

Vertebrates

Tetrapods



Humans are among the animals that never produce an egg shell and that give birth to live young. As placental mammals, humans evolved to have large babies that are born quite helpless and dependent on breast milk.

Mammals
chimpanzees
Of the thousands of mammalian species, about 600 are primates. Primates tend to have longer juvenile periods than other mammals and ample opportunities for learning during social interactions with older members a social group. Humans are apes, a clade of primates with no tail, an evolutionary innovation that dates to about 25,000,000 years ago.

Primates

Old World monkeys and Apes


Hominidea
Hominidea
The taxonomic "family" of the human species has evolutionary origins that can be traced back to a common ancestor that lived about 15,000,000 years ago.

Australopithecus
The human genus (Homo) includes several extinct bipedal apes such as Australopithecus, dating back about 4,000,000 years.

The earliest stone tools are attributed to members of the genus Homo who lived about 2,600,000 years ago.

From about 2,000,000 years ago, Homo erectus spread out of Africa and might have had a fairly "modern" hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

New members of the Homo genus continue to be found. Homo naledi is a recently identified, small-brained biped that was found about 10 years after Homo floresiensis.

So far the Denisovans are mostly known through genetic analysis of a few bone fragments.

source
Fully modern human skeletal remains have been found that date back about 200,000 years.

source
Our "modern human" ancestors spread out from Africa and inter-bred with other large-brained members of the Homo genus (Neanderthals and Denisovans) before those members of the genus became extinct.

For the Exode Trilogy, I have fun imagining that space aliens played a role in creating the human species.

The Sedronite family tree.
We can imagine that primates were taken away from Earth about 7,000,000 years ago and "cultured" on planets of the Galactic Core by the pek. Later, the Grendels transferred genetically engineered gene combinations back into the primate population of Earth, resulting in the human species.

It is fun to imagine that many other human-like primate variants have been engineered and spread through the galaxy. I refer to all of these human-like creatures as Sedronites, but the original Sedronintes were produced about 6,000,000 years ago by the pek. Some of those first Sedronites "abandoned" their physical existence as biological organisms and merged into the Sedronic Domain.

Next: more on the origins of the science fiction genre.

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