From my world-building notebook for Stuff Blowing Up in Space.
We read in science fiction stories all the time about the “adaptability of humans” or some other superior concept such as individualism, the triumph of the individual over the collective might of the pesky aliens (or even groups of humans).
What makes the Predator movies so fascinating is humans consider themselves predators, and the movies flip that on its end. Especially the first movie.
Humans are not predators of predators from a pure evolutionary standpoint. Humans need other humans to survive. They are socially adaptive.
The sish, the dominate species in the galaxy for Stuff Blowing Up in Space, form complex social groups to assert dominance to avoid food competition, not because they need to get together and fertilize eggs. They are loners and individuals much more so than humans are. They come with a slew of natural weaponry. What they cannot overpower they seduce with biological seduction weapons. What they cannot biologically seduce they can out think. Evolution can take many paths, the path for fight leads to brains that process information quickly. It’s not just a basic response, either. To a sish, exploration and advancement ties directly to food, and food is sex. Stepping foot on a new planet isn’t just fun, it’s foreplay.
Thus the adaptive, individual race is not humans. It’s sish. On the same evolutionary scale, they achieved FTL faster than others, they found more habitual planets and they are very effective diplomats, seeing war and conflict as the elimination of the food supply.
The human advantage over sish is a cultural one, one that leads to greater technological progress.
That’s a different entry, however.
Below are two sish, talking amongst themselves. They are also vying for dominance and possible sex-play. Not to toot my horn too obnoxiously, but while this banter moves the plot forward, setting the stage for some juicy conflict, it’s also jam-packed with world-building without obnoxiously beating the reader over the head with it, as I have done with the text above.
If anybody who knew anything about military space vessels were paying attention, they would have immediately known something was odd about Task Group Inaeo’s two cruisers and their orbital positions.
Nobody was paying attention, because the last of Task Group Aoe’s space assets had crossed the FTL safety line and disappeared. If someone had been looking, they would have noticed the two cruisers covered a wide swath of the planet, rather than a wide swath of the space before the planet.
The two captains were in their respective private cabins, they had just finished watching what video there was of the human in train car.
Such video was ironic. They only had it because one of the sish in the car had an expensive recorder from the Terran sector, and it was EMP shielded. Who would have thought of such a thing?
“Quite an extraordinary play of events, don’t you think?” said the first captain.
“Indeed. A violent fellow, and the glimpse of the huntress was remarkable,” said the second. “A powerful, powerful telekinetic.”
“The Princess gets kidnapped, now this. Fleet has stepped in it for sure.”
“I am not so sure, Sister. He did say he was a contractor. Witnesses said he was an ‘Ambassador.’ Such people could be contractors, hired by Fleet at whim. Fleet is the only governance for the United Planets of Terra; they tend to hire civilians to deal with other civilians.”
The other sish captain nodded. “In any event, how convenient, do you think, that all of Aoe’s space assets are currently absent from the system.”
“A shame, really.”
“Too bad we are forbidden from initiating any contact of the more, ah, free-enterprise elements that grace the pretty planet below us.”
Both cruiser captains were knee-deep in the last system conversion to the human’s hyper-capitalism, becoming quite wealthy in the process.
Both hated, to their core, the matriarchal system of governance, an anachronism they could appreciate but recognized as one of the biggest disadvantages of dealing with the over-productive humans.
They had seen the endless human fleets. The Navy knew what was going on, even if the system governments did not.
“Yes, our orders were quite clear. Here we sit, unable to open communications.”
“Yes, orders are orders; one could even say they or superiors designed them for the maximum amount of ass-coverage. In case something goes wrong.”
“Funny how we two are the types to always think of what the right thing is to do despite the consequences.”
“Indeed. Very Fleet-like of us, don’t you think?”
“Indeed. What is that Terran saying? Keep your friends close, your enemies closer?”
“I always liked, speak softly and carry a big gun.”
Each suppressed a giggle and sighed.
“La la la, la la la,” said the first captain.
“Dee dee dee, dee dee dee,” said the second captain.
The first captain took out a hairbrush and started in on her ever-hated helmet hair.
The second captain started painting her nails a nice shade of green.
Bleep bleep, went the comm chime in one cabin.
Bleep bleep, went the comm in the second.
Both sish smiled, fangs already extended.