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Re: SV: Evolution in science fiction

Stephen -
Thanks. These references and summaries are a great help. - Jeff

At 8:25 AM +0800 7/10/09, Stephen Dedman wrote:
>Larry Niven's 'Known Space' series describes attempts to influence the 
>evolution of sapient species by selective breeding and other interventions. 
>Humans on Earth have attempted to halt overpopulation by restricting the right 
>to have children, though registered geniuses can have as many children as they 
>wish, and there's also a lottery for everyone else. The Puppeteers consider 
>the lottery as a method of selectively breeding for luck, and recruit a woman 
>descended from a long and unbroken line of reproductive lottery winners as a 
>talisman for the expedition to Ringworld. It's also revealed (probably also in 
>Ringworld, though it's been a while since I've read it) that they're trying to 
>influence the evolution of the warlike Kzinti to produce a more docile race by 
>manipulating them into starting wars that will kill off the young and most 
>aggressive males before they can breed.
>Sheri S. Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country uses a similar idea; on a future 
>Earth where the sexes have largely segregated themselves (the women in gated 
>cities, with a few males who choose a peaceful servitude in the cities; the 
>majority of men in semi-nomadic warlike bands), most young women choose to 
>have sex with the more macho male warriors, but the older and wiser female 
>ob/gyns are secretly inseminating them with sperm from the less aggressive 
>city men, in the hope of breeding out war.
>Another story worth checking out is Katherine MacLean's 'Syndrome Johnny', 
>about a man who is trying to accelerate human evolution by deliberately 
>spreading diseases that kill off the less healthy before they can breed.
>Tommy Tyrberg wrote:
>> I thought I would say a little more about Olaf Stapledons "Last and
>> First Men" where he traces the human line into the far future through (I
>> think) fifteen consecutive species, including one winged. Rather dated
>> scientifically (written in 1930) but pretty impressive still.
>> A very different SF book with an at least partly evolutionary theme is
>> Roy Lewis' "What we did to father" (1960), a hilarious story about an
>> Early Pleistocene African supergenius and paterfamilias who chivvies his
>> uncomprehending and unwilling family to adopt fire, cooking, spears,
>> stone tools, living in caves, exogamy etc.
>> I agree with Raptorial Talon that most SF books do not handle
>> evolutionary themes well from a factual viewpoint, but there are
>> exceptions. For example Poul Andersons "Winter of the World" which is
>> set during the next glaciation, when the human species has split into
>> two, physically very similar, but behaviourally quite distinct.
>> Larry Niven has also written a number of good stories which are
>> factually reasonable. For example the short story "Green Marauder" which
>> gives a rather startling view of the consequences when photosynthesis
>> evolved on Earth.
>> As for evolutionary equivalents of time travel there are a number of
>> books "where Chicxulub didn't happen", for example Harry Harrysons
>> "Eden" series, already mentioned.
>> Another theme that comes back frequently is the idea that alien
>> intelligences have visited Earth in the past, and interfered with
>> evolution. A recent example is S. M. Stirlings "The Sky People" and "In
>> the Courts of the Crimson Kings" set in a parallel universe where
>> superintelligences known as "the lords of creation" visited the solar
>> system during the Jurassic and terraformed Venus and Mars (later
>> returning to transplant humans as well). Venus is a rather standard
>> dinosaurs-and-other-giant-beasts scenario, but Mars where the wil-life
>> is dominated semi-avian evolved theropods and a variety of highly
>> modified Mesozoic marine organism is quite fascinated, and makes me wish
>> Stirling had devoted more space to describing the planet. 
>> Tommy Tyrberg
>> -----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
>> Från: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] För Luis
>> Oscar Romero
>> Skickat: den 9 juli 2009 00:00
>> Till: dinosaur
>> Ämne: Re: Evolution in science fiction
>> Many SF books has been written on the future evolution of the human race
>> or the human mind. The Dune saga, by Frank Herbert, comes to mind with
>> the breeding schemes of the Bene Gesserit towards a Homo superior. Also
>> I recall More than Human, by Sturgeon, which focus on the development of
>> a collective mind, and Sirius, by the same author, about a
>> superinteligent dog, capable of speech.  I can't recall now any book which 
>> focus on the past evolution, unless we
>> consider SF the saga of the Children of the Earth ( the Clan of the Cave
>> Bear and its sequels) by Jean Auel, which deals with the interaction
>> between Neanderthals and sapiens. Dinosaurwise , one of my favorites is
>> The Planet of the dinosaurs  and its sequel the Survivors by Anne
>> McCaffrey, that I read in the sixties and already had furry pterosaurs,
>> but it doesn't dwelve in evolution, but the exploration of a planet
>> where earth dinosaurs and pterosaurs had been transplanted, and have
>> survived among the local fauna.   And of course, there is Raptor Red...   
>> Cheers,   Luis Oscar Romero, lor@fibertel.com.ar 2009-07-08  ----- Receiving 
>> the following content -----  From: Jeff Hecht  Receiver: Dinosaur mailing 
>> list  Time: 2009-07-08, 13:56:36 Subject: Evolution in science fiction 
>> 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?  
>> I know a few science-fiction fans are on the list, and I'm curious how
>> you'd answer those questions. Stephen Jay Gould's idea that trying to
>> repeat evolution wouldn't produce the same results comes to my mind.
>> What comes to yours?  
>> --  Jeff Hecht, science & technology writer jeff@jeffhecht.com or 
>> jhecht@nasw.org 525 Auburn St., Auburndale, MA 02466 USA tel. 617-965-3834 
>> http://www.jeffhecht.com

Jeff Hecht, science & technology writer
jeff@jeffhecht.com or jhecht@nasw.org
Boston Correspondent: New Scientist magazine
Contributing Editor: Laser Focus World
525 Auburn St., Auburndale, MA 02466 USA
tel. 617-965-3834  http://www.jeffhecht.com