Avast! Thar be spoilers ahead!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Science Fiction and Sex: Reproduction

Reproduction can be either sexual or asexual. Sexual reproduction produces offspring that are similar but not identical to their parents. Asexual reproduction creates either identical or very similar offspring. Slight variation and mutations are possible from both types of reproduction. There are two common methods of reproducing. One in which few offspring are created, usually nurtured for a time. The other method involves producing many offspring, most of whom die shortly after death.

Humans, generally, reproduce by the hot and sweaty method that leads to a live birth. Sterile procedures, like in vetro fertilization, take some of the hot and sweaty work out of the beginning but the giving birth to a tiny human being is always messy. Some people may question my use of "live birth" but I only want to distinguish this from laying an egg, which is birth to a live thing (sorta) but generally has less blood and cursing. Giving birth is a dangerous thing. For a really, really long time, we're talking thousands of years, most women died in child birth. And most children died, too. Not a pretty picture but it is the harsh reality. Our method takes a lot of energy and years of nurturing.

Some species give birth or lay a clutch of eggs and are basically done. The basic relationship is the more intelligent and the less instinct equals fewer babies and vice versa. Going small is a great way for certain species, but it is not for everyone. When we imagine aliens, we tend to imagine ourselves but hairless and slimy or with lots of arms or with an enormous sloping forehead, one eyed, and laying a small clutch of eggs (or is that just me?). Occasionally, you get what corporate think tanks like to call "thinking outside of the box", or womb in this case. District 9 features aliens which lay/create pods/eggs from which their young are born. Actually, the details are not mentioned but they do not give birth. However, they do have small numbers of children, perhaps due to the humans aborting the fetuses. But they do nurture their young for several years.

Ender's Game features a species of sentient insects who share a collective mind that is controlled by the queen. Like in bees, queens lay numerous eggs over her lifetime. Because the hive thinks as one, nurturing is unnecessary. However, the queens are said to nurture their successors and collaborate with them. In essence the hive is the extended body of the queen's mind which is nurtured by her mother.

No comments:

Post a Comment