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c  


   O   O 

By John Hopkins

This article was posted on the ³Notes´ page on the    website at
johnhopkins.us. If you have not read Colony of Courage you can do so at Scribd or link from
johnhopkins.us.

I went into a lot of this in the actual text, but I wanted to get into it again here to facilitate
discussion among interested people. Please note that it is not my intent to produce a scholarly
piece on the subject. I have not done so. My purpose is to generate comment.

I have a link on the main page to a ³Discussion´ page on the StarVenture Sci Fi Facebook page
as well.

In some of my previous writing some complained that my aliens were too much like Humans.
Before I get into that let me address something an editor complained of at one time. That is my
capitalization of Human. In the context of the story Human is a proper noun in the same way as
German, Frenchman, Canadian and other nationalities. A Human is different from a Sorian or a
Cratian. We don¶t capitalize human in our context because all the people we deal with are
human. We have to be more specific in order to capitalize and thus, Australian, Austrian, Italian
and so forth.

One editor complained about my using the terms ³person´ and ³people´ to refer to aliens as well
as Humans. For my purposes a person is a being who is self aware, and prefers one thing over
another and has his/her/its own agenda. The definition of a person is something that I hope will
generate a lot of comment.

Finally to get to the main point. That is the physical similarity of the alien species in O   
O 
and the subsequent stories in the StarVenture series.

Again, I went into this to some degree in O   O 


itself, but wanted to do so more
here to facilitate discussion.

I acknowledge my debt in this area to Carl Sagan and Igor Schkolskii in their classic book


  
  
 

, Holden Day, San Francisco, 1966. It is out of print, but there
should still be used copies out there.

I have studied planetary science for decades. I have had the opportunity to tutor both planetary
and stellar astronomy at Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA. I have read extensively on
the subject for decades as well as the formal instruction in astronomy.
ºet¶s start with life in the broadest possible definition. Fred Hoyle was one of the top
Cosmologists of the twentieth century. It is he who coined the term ³Big Bang´. He did so as a
term of derision to make the concept sound silly.

He also wrote Science Fiction. In his book, „


O  published in 1957 he posits an
enormous black cloud in space that turns out to be a life form that never considered the
possibility of life living on a planet. Maybe there is such a life form out there. It is conceivable
that we may have to deal with such a thing some day, but we would almost certainly not wish to
socialize with such a thing.

One of my favorite series dealing with the differences between species is James White¶s 
 


 series from 1962-1999. He describes a major hospital treating an enormous variety of
species.

One pilot approaching the hospital identified himself to the traffic controller as Human only to
be told that all species consider themselves Human in their own context. The pilot was required
to use the hospital¶s four letter system describing physical structure and environmental
requirements.

In O   O 


and the subsequent stories in the StarVenture series all aliens that choose
to associate regularly will all have the same requirements in terms of breathing gasses, pressure,
temperature and gravity. They are aware of species with other requirements, but do not choose to
associate with them routinely.

One of the best possibilities for alien life in our own solar system is Jupiter¶s moon Europa.
There may be creatures which live in a liquid ocean below the frozen surface.

Even on Earth we have creatures which live around thermal vents on the sea floor. They live
total darkness in extreme pressures and temperatures. Associating with them on a face to face
basis is not even an option.

I live about an hour and a half from a major theme park which houses bottlenose dolphins. They
are air breathing mammals. They are intelligent. Some say that they are more intelligent than we
are. Still, I have no desire to chat with one over a cup of coffee.

I am not a dolphiphobe. I don¶t avoid socializing with them because I hate them. I avoid
socializing with them because they live in water and I do not.

In O   O 


and subsequent stories in the series all of the aliens are about the same
size. Soderians are taller and wider than Humans. Cratians are smaller, but neither are
dramatically different in size.

This is no accident. Sagan and Shklovskii make the point that calcium is a natural for bones,
even in alien species. The strength of bones is a key limiting factor. A man sixty feet tall would
not only be ten times as tall, but ten times as wide and thick. He would weigh eighty to ninety
tons. Given the chemical nature of calcium such a man would break his legs every time he took a
step.

Such a man might be able to walk on a low gravity planet, but a planet with such a low gravity
could not hold on to an atmosphere or liquid water. Consider Mars. Its gravity is 0.38 that of
Earth. It once had oceans of liquid water and a thicker, warmer atmosphere, but no longer.

Many of the scholars I have read have pointed out that a large number of limbs would require too
much brain function just to operate them to make such a number optimal. Most higher animals
on Earth have four or six limbs.

Most are bilaterally symmetrical. Mobility for a being that is not symmetrical would be difficult.

Most higher life forms on Earth have their brains high up on their bodies and encased in bone.
Nerve impulses move rapidly, but not infinitely fast. Therefore eyes and ears need to be near the
brain. In most cases they are encased in the same boney structure as the brain. In order see and
hear efficiently, that boney structure needs to swivel.

Some want to imagine silicon based life. Consider the Horta in the original Star Trek, Episode
26, „

   
.

Once writer, whose identity I cannot remember, pointed out that a carbon based life form inhales
oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide. A silicon based life form would inhale oxygen and exhale
silicon dioxide. We encounter silicon dioxide in nature primarily as sand. That writer pointed out
that he/she did not want to meet a being that exhaled sand.

All things considered it is quite reasonable that a society that is able to easily travel between the
stars would be made up of a variety of beings who are   the same size, with four to six
limbs arranged in bilateral symmetry, with a head that swivels located high on the body.

Given the compatibility between carbon and oxygen it is quite reasonable that there would be
enough of such beings who breathe the same general mix of gasses at similar pressure that they
would find it convenient, useful and maybe even enjoyable to associate.

What do you think?