11 April 2016

Humans are scary

I wind up looking this up a few times a year, and I've never found a sufficiently legible version to satisfy me, so I'm cooking up one of my own.

It’s funny how science fiction universes so often treat humans as a boring, default everyman species or even the weakest and dumbest.

I want to see a sci fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.

How do we know our saliva and skin oils wouldn’t be ultra-corrosive to most other sapient races? What if we actually have the strongest vocal chords and can paralyze or kill the inhabitants of other worlds just by screaming at them? What if most sentient life in the universe turns out to be vegetable-like and lives in fear of us rare “animal” races who can move so quickly and chew shit up with our teeth?

Like that old story “they’re made of meat,” only we’re scarier.


HOLY SHIT THEY EAT CAPSAICIN FOR FUN

YOU GUYS I HEARD A HUMAN ONCE ATE AN AIRPLANE.

A HUMAN CAN KEEP FIGHTING FOR HOURS EVEN AFTER YOU SHOOT IT

humans are a proud warrior race with a pantheon of bloody gods: Ram-Bo, Schwarzenegger, etc.

REMOVING A LIMB WILL NOT FATALLY INCAPACITATE HUMANS: ALWAYS DESTROY THE HEAD.

WARNING: HUMANS CAN DETECT YOU EVEN AT NIGHT BY TRACKING VIBRATIONS THROUGH THE ATMOSPHERE

WARNING: HUMANS CAN REPRODUCE AT A RATE OF 1 PER SPACEYEAR. DESTROY INFESTATIONS IMMEDIATELY

THE HUMAN MOUTH HAS OVER THIRTY OUTCROPS OF BONE AND POWERFUL JAW MUSCLES.

HUMAN BITES CAN BE FATALLY INFECTIOUS EVEN TO OTHER HUMANS

WARNING: HUMANS CAN AND WILL USE IMPROVISED WEAPONS. SEE CLASSIFIED DATA LABELED J. CHAN.

HUMANS CAN PROJECT BIOWEAPONS FROM ALMOST EVERY ORIFICE ON THEIR BODY. DO NOT INHALE

OH GOD THE HUMANS FIGURED OUT DOOR HANDLES OH GOD OH GOD


More seriously, humans do have a number of advantages even among Terrestrial life. Our endurance, shock resistance, and ability to recover from injury is absurdly high compared to almost any other animal. We often use the phrase “healthy as a horse” to connote heartiness — but compared to a human, a horse is as fragile as spun glass. There’s mounting evidence that our primitive ancestors would hunt large prey simply by following it at a walking pace, without sleep or rest, until it died of exhaustion; it’s called pursuit predation. Basically, we’re the Terminator.

(The only other animal that can sort of keep up with us? Dogs. That’s why we use them for hunting. And even then, it’s only “sort of”.)

Now extrapolate that to a galaxy in which most sapient life did not evolve from hyper-specialised pursuit predators:

  • Our strength and speed is nothing to write home about, but we don’t need to overpower or outrun you. We just need to outlast you — and by any other species’ standards, we just plain don’t get tired.
  • Where a simple broken leg will cause most species to go into shock and die, we can recover from virtually any injury that’s not immediately fatal. Even traumatic dismemberment isn’t necessarily a career-ending injury for a human.
  • We heal from injuries with extreme rapidity, recovering in weeks from wounds that would take others months or years to heal. The results aren’t pretty — humans have hyperactive scar tissue, among our other survival-oriented traits — but they’re highly functional.
  • Speaking of scarring, look at our medical science. We developed surgery centuries before developing even the most rudimentary anesthetics or life support. In extermis, humans have been known to perform surgery on themselves - and survive. Thanks to our extreme heartiness, we regard as routine medical procedures what most other species would regard as inventive forms of murder. We even perform radical surgery on ourselves for purely cosmetic reasons.

In essence, we’d be Space Orcs.


I do hope you realize I’m going to be picking up this stuff and running with it right?


Our jaws have too many TEETH in them, so we developed a way to WELD METAL TO OUR TEETH and FORCE THE BONES IN OUR JAW to restructure over the course of years to fit them back into shape, and then we continue to wear metal in out mouths to keep them in place.

We formed cohabitative relationships with tiny mammals and insects we keep at bay from bothering us by death, often using little analouge traps.

And by god, we will eat anything.


  • We use borderline toxic peppers to season our food.
  • We expose ourselves to potentially lethal solar radiation in the pursuit of darkening our skin.
  • We risk hearing loss for the opportunity to see our favorite musicians live.
  • We have a game where two people get into an enclosed area and hit each other until time runs out/one of them pass out
  • We willingly jump out of planes with only a flimsy piece of cloth to prevent us from splattering against the ground.
  • Our response to natural disasters is to just rebuild our buildings in the exact same places.
  • We climb mountains and risk freezing to death for bragging rights
  • We invented dogs. We took our one time predators and completely domesticated them.
  • On a planet full of lions, tigers and bears, we managed to advance further and faster than any other species on the planet.

Klingons and Krogan and Orcs ain’t got shit on us


can we talk about how pursuit predation is fucking terrifying

it’s one thing to face down a cheetah, which will slam into you at 60 mph and break your neck

it’s another thing to run very quickly to get away from a thing, only to have it just kind of

show up

to have it be intelligent enough to figure out where you are by the fur and feather you’ve left behind, your footprints and piss and shit, and then you think you’ve lost it and you bed down for the night but THERE IT IS


WAITING


WHEN YOU WAKE UP


and you split! again! but it keeps following you. always in the corner of your eye. until you just


die


we are scary motherfuckers ok

7 comments:

J'Carlin said...

From the Notebooks of Lazarus Long:
By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man--man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has no enemy to help him.

Don Reba said...

Pursuit predation is exactly what cheetahs do. What you describe for humans is persistence hunting.

Zed Lopez said...

Ummm... in my reading of sf, it seems to me overall like humans as humdrum remains a minority, even slightly radical position -- it's human exceptionalism that's the norm, especially that we're the toughest, most resilient, most adaptable, and overall most unbeatable species around. Poul Anderson's 1960 _The High Crusade_ is an exemplar. Disch's 1965 _The Genocides_ prominently inverted the trope in which despite their overwhelming advantages and incredible technology, the aliens... won. We started seeing other examples in the '70's in Tiptree and Varley.

But it still looks to me like "Independence Day" is the rule.

China said...

I still think a nice exoskeleton would nice. I have found that my soft fleshy exterior is able to be harmed by sharp, bladed instruments, explosives, incendiaries, firearms and Xacto knives (which, although technically a "sharp, bladed instrument", really belongs in a class of its own. And since, yes, I have healed from stabbings, slicings, shootings and a few chemistry experiments gone slightly awry I would agree that we humans have a wonderfully uncanny ability to heal. Perhaps we could install a "volume" dial or dampening device on our extremely intricate and expansive network of nerve endings? The healing process doesn't feel too quick when your nerve endings feel like you are being burned with electricity. Just some suggested upgrades I've noticed as my amazing human meat suit gets older and more experienced.

China said...
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China said...
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