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Re: Evolution in science fiction

> On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 9:56 AM, Jeff Hecht<jeff@jeffhecht.com> wrote:
>> I'm going to be moderating a panel this weekend at a science fiction 
>> convention called Readercon in suburban Boston. The title is "Is Darwinism 
>> Too Good for SF?" and it's asking if evolutionary theory "has been _too 
>> good_, too unassailable and too full of explanatory power, to leave the 
>> wiggle room where speculative minds can play" that science fiction writers 
>> need to write memorable stories. Are there evolutionary counterparts of time 
>> travel and faster-than-light?

Another example is Harry Harrison's "West of Eden" trilogy, set in a
world where, as in Dougal Dixon's "The New Dinosaurs", the K/Pg
extinction did not occur. Unlike Dixon's book, though, the extinction
still occurred in one hemisphere, so the New World is dominated by
mammals, while the Old World continues to be dominated by sauropsids.
There are sapient sauropsids as well--not dinosaurs, but pygmy,
matriarchal, terrestrial mosasaurs(!!!) These "YilanÃ" have an
advanced civilization based on bioengineering -- their homes are
bioengineered trees, their submarines are bioengineered ichthyosaurs,
their microscopes are bioengineered frogs, etc. Meanwhile, in the New
World, humans have (rather improbably) arisen and have reached a
"caveman" level of progress.

Unfortunately the evolution of the sauropsids is not very well thought
out -- except for the Yilanà and their bioengineered mutants, nothing
in the Old World seems to have changed much since the Cretaceous, or,
in some cases, the Jurassic!
T. Michael Keesey
Technical Consultant and Developer, Internet Technologies
Glendale, California