Humanoid aliens and mutated species in sci-fi

I talked about the Defiance pilot earlier this week, and its story line. Now I want to present my personal opinions on a few biology type things in the story–proof that having a healthy capacity to suspend disbelief is useful. (Note: I still really like the show.)

I don’t really have a problem with the humanoid aliens–they do need to be played by human actors. The notion of a human-alien romance, though?  Strong friendships I would absolutely buy, and below is a video demonstrating the concept. (Editorial note: Time has passed, and my opinion on this topic has changed. I’ll leave everything up, but know that I disagree with past me.)

Romance, however, implies certain biological stuff happening, which generally requires a degree of similarity between species. If they have a kid, my mind will be blown. After all, the man and gorilla below are probably more similar to each other than a human to a hypothetical alien, considering that their DNA content would be ninety-something percent the same (unless the aliens arose from a splinter colony of early humanoids who somehow got to space? Space Neanderthals?)

But what I really want to talk about doesn’t deal with aliens at all. It deals with the backstory for how the world of Defiance came to be as it is. Wikipedia says that some terraformer technology was chaotically unleashed over the world, mutating animal species and creating new hybrids/species.

Why this happens to other animals, but not humans, I don’t know.

Anyway, mutating animals like that would probably just break something that’s biologically important (like the stuff that keeps you from getting cancer). Or it might just cause mutations that are neutral, instead of beneficial or detrimental–I have no idea what the mutation rate is of whatever terraforming technology they’re using.

You’re not going to miraculously get a badass new species like this. (You’ll just get a very mutated member of the old species, and possibly not for very long.)

Also, why do they need to have these crazily mutated animals running around? Grizzly bears and wolves aren’t scary enough? Or moose, for that matter. In fact, they also mention having alien animals (heavily mutated alien animals). While that is its own issue (similar to the humanoid alien issue), it could have easily made the mutant animal angle unnecessary.

As a side note, Calvin Klein attracts jaguars. As long as we’re on the topic of animals.

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3 Responses to Humanoid aliens and mutated species in sci-fi

  1. Psycho Gecko says:

    Sci-fi series are a bit of a mixed bag on the subject of hybrids. They tend to take certain liberties with science anyway as normal convention. Aerodynamic ships in space, flying in space like it is atmosphere, sound in space, the concept of weapon ranges in space, and on and on.

    Babylon 5 only has a hybrid after a Minbari has somehow been artificially hybridized anyway (don’t know if that’s a proper term. Don’t care). Perhaps it is possible to pull off if the technology was sufficiently advanced.

    Stargate SG-1 (at least as far into it as I’ve gotten) has various other worlds colonized by humans kidnapped from various points in time as slaves and potential hosts for the parasitic Goa’uld. So of course people on those other worlds can have kids with people of Earth. There is maybe one time anything like a hybrid ever occurs. Hathor, in possession of a host of course, mates with a man in order to somehow obtain enough genetic information to lay a litter of the snakey things capable of taking over humans. This isn’t consistent with the later episode where they visit the Goa’uld homeworld and discover primitive Goa’uld in the water that are still capable of taking humans as hosts, so who the hell knows.

    Personally, I think Hathor just liked to reinforce her pheromone control over men with sex, but then they are a screwed up species mentally.

    Farscape is a little more complicated. The Sebaceans are genetically modified humans. Makes them better warriors, makes them natural enemies of the Scarrans, and could maybe make it possible for some kids with humans. The problem is that they are also capable of having kids with Luxans and even Scarrans (though the only example of such a hybrid would have died without advanced technology). In one set of episodes, sexual incompatibility with humanity is brought up as an important plot point as a Sebacean princess has had her DNA screwed up somehow by saboteurs who want her brother on the throne. Only the sole human anywhere around is found to be genetically compatible.

    They almost had it if not for the Luxan and Scarran crossbreeding capability.

    Making things a whole migraine-inducing amount worse is anything where Superman has a kid with Lois.

    Another well-known example of the Mass Effect series. There don’t seem to be any hybrids outside of the Asari, who all appear female and are all capable of having children with members of any other species. In fact, it’s problematic to kiss (culturally too) and potentially fatal to have unprotected sex with the Turians and Quarians due to differences (might be pretty damn fatal to have sex with a Krogan too, but that has more to do with personality and culture). At least with the Asari, it is presented as Asari having some weird connection that lets them randomize genes based on the “father’s” species and produce a fetus all on their own. The kid is physiologically Asari, though.

    Mordin probably has the best quote on this subject, “Trying to determine how scale itch got onto Normandy, sexually transmitted disease only carried by varren. Implications…unpleasant.”

    • Marie Erving says:

      “Only the sole human anywhere around is found to be genetically compatible.”

      Well, isn’t that coincidental. And also kind of creepy.

      • Psycho Gecko says:

        Nah. Gets much creepier when the pale guy in the black leather outfit shows up because he wants John Crichton.

        Yeah, that’s Scorpius, a Sebacean-Scarran hybrid. Sebaceans are coldblooded humans who go braindead when their body gets hot enough, and Scarrans are large, strong, reptilian aliens whose bodies naturally produce a great deal of heat to the extent that they can emit beams of heat from their hands. Scorpius has some drawbacks related to a key difference there, but is an awesome villain character. Full on determinator tragic villain.

        More about Scarrans, they come in long-face and short-face varieties, with the short-faces apparently being the ruling caste. Also, their mivoks are not external:

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