March 09, 2011

Best "real human origins" science fiction

Numerous science fiction outlets have postulated that humanity actually has extraterrestrial origins. It's quite a popular concept. Two of my favorite written word examples follow ...

I'm currently into the fourth book of James P. Hogan's "Giants" series, Entoverse. The entire series is five novels -- Inherit the Stars, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede (at left), Giants' Star, Entoverse, and Mission to Minerva -- and establishes that humanity actually sprang from a race of beings called the Lunarians. The Lunarians are so named due to a dessicated remnant of one being discovered by humans on our moon. These Lunarians were actually a genetically altered race based on Earth's early hominids, and lived on the planet Minerva, which occupied the orbit where our Solar System's asteroid belt is now. But who ... "made" them?

The answer to that is the Ganymeans. The Ganymeans, so named because an old vessel of theirs was discovered by humans on Jupiter's moon of Ganymede, had naturally evolved on Minerva, and experimented on Earth's early hominids in an attempt to battle their own physiological shortcomings in their planet's impending ecological shift. When they realized this would not work, they allowed their creations to occupy their planet, while they took off for another star whose planet would be better suited to them. Over the course of two millennia, these beings built a civilization. But they eventually split into two distinct camps, the Cerians and the Lambians, and a battle for dominance ensued. The ultimate battle destroyed Minerva (creating our asteroid belt), and the Cerians escaped to Earth -- to become Modern Man. And if you're wondering why these advanced beings didn't advance Earth much earlier than what actually occurred in history, the answer to that is part of the annihilated Minerva was eventually captured by Earth's gravity ... to become our moon. The resultant ecological upheaval almost eradicated the Cerians; as it was, the survivors reverted to barbarism, needing the numerous thousands of subsequent years to crawl back to a semblance of what they once were.

In Larry Niven's Known Space universe, it's established that humanity on Earth descended from the Pak (at right) -- a species of humanoid bipeds who lived on a planet in the center of the Milky Way. Millions of years ago, thousands of Pak hollowed out an asteroid and journeyed outward towards the galactic arms, eventually settling on Earth. The Pak had two stages of life: breeder and protector. Their breeders were our planet's early hominids as a results of this long Pak space journey. On the Pak homeworld, breeders would become protectors (at around age 40) by eating a fibrous root dubbed "Tree of Life." The breeder would undergo a drastic physiological change over the course of a few weeks (while in a coma): its brain case would expand for increased intelligence, its joints would swell to allow greater leverage, its sexual organs would disappear, a secondary heart would form, and its skin would harden into a leathery armor. This change to "protector" meant just that -- the protector guarded its own breeders, and was specifically altered to do just that, via enhanced intelligence and strength. (Most of the backstory regarding the Pak and protectors is told in Niven's novel Protector.

But the Pak discovered something very unfortunate a little while after landing on Earth: the Tree of Life root did not grow properly in our soil. The root grew ok, but the virus within which triggered the change to protector died in the root. Eventually, the protectors died out, leaving only breeders to populate our planet. These breeders, over millions of years, evolved into ... Modern Man.

Protector told the tale of Phthsspok, a lone Pak who journeyed from the Pak homeworld in hopes of discovering what had happened to those who traveled to Earth millions of years prior. He succeeded, but discovered what the old breeders had turned into -- a vastly mutated, space-faring race! It is via Phthsspok that humanity learned of its true origins, and in later Niven-approved stories we learn that the Pak themselves are a genetically engineered race created by one of Niven's oldest Known Space background creations, the Tnuctipun, over a billion years ago.

Protector and some later stories (mainly in the Niven-approved "Man-Kzin Wars" books) detailed how some human protectors acted "behind the scenes" to guide humanity to progress and annihilate any threats to humans across Known Space. In addition, it's later established that the Pak constructed Niven's greatest-ever literary creation -- the Ringworld.

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But what about movies and/or television? In one of my favorite scifi shows ever, "Star Trek: The Next Generation," the episode "The Chase" clearly establishes that an ancient humanoid race once "seeded" the Earth and the homeworlds of several Star Trek alien races (Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian) to allow intelligent life to evolve (and also seemingly explains how all these races are more or less at the same technological level!).

What are some others -- that either I've never heard about or am obviously forgetting?

Posted by Hube at March 9, 2011 06:48 PM | TrackBack

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H. Beam Piper did a story closely related to his Paratime series in which Earth was actually originally colonized from Mars.

Keith Laumer once did something similar but I cannot recall the story's name.

Posted by: Steve Newton at March 9, 2011 10:37 PM