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A "fantasy" Species

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A "fantasy" Species

Postby NateCat » Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:20 am

I have a rather unusual question for anyone who knows anything about descriptions of species or taxonomy.

I am writing a fantasy/ science fiction novel that has a humanoid species within it. I was thinking of starting off the novel with a kind of scientific report/ documentation of the species. I need it to look convincing and therefore I have been looking around for similar kinds of reports for real animals.

Does anyone know where I could find a typical report on a specific species? I really know very little about taxonomy and I am therefore at a bit of a loss as to where to start. Is there an official database of all species? I am presuming there is.

I hope I have made myself understood here :). I know it is a bit of an odd question.
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Postby alextemplet » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:00 pm

http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Not sure if this'll help but it's a step in the right direction.
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Postby mith » Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:45 pm

You can usually just pick some latin name and add to it as necessary

For example, say you have an animal that's very swift, let's say like some sort of flying insect that's common on your realm:

alacritas vulgaris
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
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Re: A "fantasy" Species

Postby NateCat » Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:58 pm

Interesting site... I have now realised how complex taxonomy can be. I have studied up to the level of kingdom, Phylum, class, order, family, Genus and species. I would not really want to go any deeper than that. I suppose it depends on whether I want to impress the scientific community or whether I want to concentrate on just writing a good novel. I just believe that good science fiction needs to be made believable. Attention to detail is vital.

Thank you for the site and the suggestions. I really need to decide how deep I want to go with this in a scientific sense. I want to concentrate on the human side of story writing but I am also interested in the idea of exploring a non-human intelligent organism.

I would also be interested in exactly how advanced genetic science is these days. I am under the impression that genetically engineering humanoid species is against international law. The question is, what do scientists get up to behind closed doors? It is nothing new with regards to science fiction but I do wonder sometimes exactly how far genetic engineering has gone. There must be many rules and regulations that stop people creating mutants that the general public would just never know the truth; people would be guarded about what gets out into the public. I am sure that people can do more than create glow-in-the dark dogs.

I suppose it would be conceivable that a new humanoid species could be engineered. Anyone know who governs that kind of thing? How do people enforce rules on that kind of research?
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Postby alextemplet » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:54 pm

I find myself in the same boat with some of my writing projects. Currently I am beginning to piece together ideas for a sci-fi series of my own, and like yourself I want to make it as realistic as possible. I would say that attention to detail and desire for accuracy are admirable, but it's probably best to focus on telling a good story and not get hung up quite so much on technical details. Impressing scientists won't help you that much when you're trying to sell a book to a public that may not hold science degrees, and it's in selling to general public that the real money is for a writer. So in the end, a good story will be far more important than accurate scientific details.
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Re: A "fantasy" Species

Postby NateCat » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:23 am

Thank you Alex,

I agree with what you say. I think sometimes we need to hear what we already believe from someone other than ourself. That kind of confirmation is necessary at times...

Things are beginning to slip into place for me. Believe it or not, this is a project that was conceived more than 5 years ago! It has never become much more than sketchy pieces of writing, plans of the characters and many large gaps. A perpetual day dreamer cannot hold his imagination down though. Now it is all about the discipline to sit down and just write, write and write some more.

I wish you well in your own writing endeavours.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:37 pm

It usually does take a few years to put a good story together. My own current idea has been in the making for almost a decade, and it really represents a synthesis of three separate projects I've been working on. I'm still working out all the details of how to put a story together, but I've got the character sketches down for the main characters and I think I've put together a good idea of the technology and science that will be relevant. I'm hoping to start writing sometime this summer.

Good luck with your own projects; you'll have to let us know if you're lucky enough to get published!
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Postby Darby » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:20 pm

If you have a humanoid species, you'll need to decide just how human it is - if humans are describing a humanoid species, they're likely to focus on the differences.

If this is just superficially humanoid but of a type that is much more alien, the description would probably be to other related species of that planet.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:24 pm

I'm considering a species of highly-evolved arthropods for my story. Something similar to the bugs in Heinlein's Starship Troopers, except maybe with the ability to read and write so they're able to communicate with humans. I'm mostly fascinated by the concept of an entire species having evolved a rigid caste system where each individual offers complete and total obedience to the collective. Certainly makes an interesting contrast to the individualist western concept of human society!
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Re:

Postby NateCat » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:57 pm

alextemplet wrote:I'm mostly fascinated by the concept of an entire species having evolved a rigid caste system where each individual offers complete and total obedience to the collective. Certainly makes an interesting contrast to the individualist western concept of human society!


That reminds me of the "Borg" in Star Trek where collective consciousness is concerned. It is an interesting, but at the same time, believable concept.

Darby wrote:If you have a humanoid species, you'll need to decide just how human it is - if humans are describing a humanoid species, they're likely to focus on the differences.


I will definitely have to bear that in mind. I like the idea of the ethics surrounding "superiority". If a humanoid species was found or genetically engineered you could be certain that people would find a way of proving that they are inferior to us. I love to delve into the philosophies of exactly what "superiority" is. The amount of controversy that goes on with regard to different "races" is phenomenal... and we are all the same species.

It is acceptable to presume that a human is superior to a dog. We can't forget the fact that most dogs can run faster and have a greater sense of smell though. If there was a new humanoid species to compare ourselves to then how would people define their level of sophistication? It could create some excellent controversy. I think that many films focus on the concepts of evil, twisted, mutants being created. I believe it would be more challenging to explore the reactions to an apparently weaker humanoid species.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:12 pm

The Borg are indeed similar but there's some important differences. The Borg are an artificial semi-organic species engineered and controlled using computing technology; the arthropods from Heinlein's Starship Troopers are biologically evolved to live in a sort of "perfect communism," as Heinlein put it.

The issue of superiority is also intriguing. One of the main characters in my story comes from a basically stone age society and I use him to give some pretty harsh commentary on modern culture with all of our supposed "sophistication."
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