Sunday, October 02, 2011

Haven't Had Sex in 80 Million Years (and other Non-Fiction Book Reviews for Fiction Inspiration)

I doubt that one could write a block-buster alien romance about someone or something that hadn't had sex in 80 million years.

But, wait a minute. One could. It would be a Rip Van Winkle tale with a wrinkle... or a wrinkled pickle.

I'm reading an older Discover Magazine article about self-cloning female whiptale lizards, and also about some aphids that have sex only if there is a useful sexually transmitted infection that they wish to share.

At the moment, I cannot imagine a sexually transmitted disease that might be useful... but, I'm thinking about it. Evolution moves in mysterious ways. All the more reason, I suppose, not to forcibly innoculate twelve-year old girls against the possibility of contracting genital warts from a boy one day.

Would an 80-million-year-old Rip wake up with an itch and a very useful infection to transmit? Ewwww. Horrors.

I see that some scientists are now suggesting that sleep is not a shut-down state, but more like a series of rolling blackouts in the brain. I like this idea. Perhaps, more evolved beings might be able to chose the route of their own rolling blackouts, so that not all senses would be "asleep" at the same time.

There are mountain ranges buried under the ice of Antarctica. Maybe Atlantis is buried under ice, not under the sea. Cool. One could translate Voyage To The Center Of The Earth. Instead of having clouds in the sky, one would have a sky made of the bottom of the icepack. Light would be a problem, but I'm not clear what the light source was for the dinosaur world in the center of the Earth, either.

Three books reviewed in Discover caught my attention for their worldbuilding potential if the contents were combined and translated into fiction. One is Rat Island by William Stolzenburg reviewed by Patrick Morton, about the problems created by explorers (in this case of our own planet) because their ships carried stowaway rats which decimated indigenous populations of seabirds on islands the explorers visited.

I could imagine humans taking the role of the rats. Possibly escaped abducted humans.

Another fascinating review is that by Sarah Stanley of Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl, about the consequences of a sexually skewed population. Too many Asian male children grow up to one-child families that abort female fetuses because they are able to choose the sex of the only child they are permitted to have. But, when all these males are mature and wish to procreate, there aren't enough women to go around.

This sort of scenario is not new to alien-abduction-of-human-mates Romances, but I assume that mainstream Romances tend to focus on privileged and wealthy (lonely) males who treat their bought brides very well, rather than on the potential for monetizing mates. Instead of a futuristic adaptation of "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers", we'd see "One Bride For Seven 'Brothers'".

Reviewer Natasha Fryer's take on Epigenics: The Ultimate Mystery of Inheritance by Richard C. Francis touched on the unintended consequences of messing with testosterone (as in steroid use by professional athletes) and cellular changes that might be passed down to future generations. Mutants, perhaps?

One wonders (this one wonders) what might become of the unplanned descendants of E.D. remedy users. Do they mess with testosterone?

Discover Magazine subscribers (I believe) may still benefit from a special offer if they give gift subscriptions. IMHO, Discover Magazine is an excellent publication.

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