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Re: Evolution in science fiction

Are they kidding? Almost every time I read about/see evolutionary
themes in science fiction, it's *full* of biobabble. Not only are
there evolutionary counterparts to time travel and FTL, they are so
standard that they're cliche. Usually they more or less ignore the
actual principles of evolution, so I'm not sure where this idea of a
lack of wiggle room is coming from; sci-fi authors generally write
what they will, starting with a story concept and working science
concepts into it, instead of starting with solid science and weaving
stories into it. Maybe that's the problem. Dougal Dixon is a notable
exception, as was pointed out.

All I know is, virtually every time I see a sci-fi story/show with
evolution, it ignores real principles like genetic drift, gene-fixing,
and speciation (or distorts more widely-known concepts like natural
selection) in favor of a sort of Victorian progressivism, with clearly
defined ladderesque "stages." Sometimes whole groups of beings even
"evolve" all at once , on the individual scale, and frequently into
"pure energy" (*cough*Babylon 5 & Star Trek*cough*). And, even where
the treatment is often somewhat more naturalistic (as in Star Wars and
to a lesser extent Star Trek), it tends to fall prey to conceptions of
predictable linear development - like the classic "horse sequence" -
instead of the more Gouldian chaotic-branching paradigm. It's
*expected* that intelligent life will evolve on almost any given
planet. (And also expected that it will usually be humanoid, which
makes no sense at all statistically, as you implied.)

Evolution doesn't constrain sci-fi writers; sci-fi writers spit all
over evolution.  They either begin from ignorance or warp it until it
suits the needs of their stories. The same applies to science in
general; the difference is that some areas of science are uncertain
enough that the make-believe is more plausible, or at least more
believable. That's a bit subjective, of course, since not all readers
really understand evolution  or any other given field. But this
pattern is what I see time and time again in popular science fiction.
I assume the less widely popular novel scene has more integrity, but I
can't say how much.

How's that as some food for thought?