I have been thinking about evolution and change a lot lately. That may have to do slightly with the shapeshifting lizard people I have created for the Comyenti Series. They are on my mind as I’m about to embark writing the sci-fi prequel to the series. It crossed my mind how some creatures here on Earth have, more or less, stayed the same over a hundred million years (as they had no cause to change) and others had to adapt quicker and change drastically to fit in with their new environment.
We are unmistakably still subject to evolution ourselves in appearance and intellect.
Scientists have confirmed humans have not escaped nature’s clutches and put a halt on natural selection. Of course. A halt in evolution simply wouldn’t be possible. As long as people have offspring natural selection continues to happen. For example, over time, Dutch people have grown taller because of a natural preference for tall partners who then have taller children and so on. Our intestines can digest baby food (milk) better than we could four thousand years ago when people first started to make cow’s cheese, although it is still unnatural and hostile to our adult bodies and most people are therefore lactose intolerant (not to mention the fact it’s cruel to those mammals such as cows and goats as the dairy industry is a nightmare on earth). Our teeth and jaws have stopped growing to become more powerful because we started to cook our food so it’s softer and easier to chew. And my personal favourite: our eyes apparently are still changing slowly since we emerged out of the water millions of years ago! Our vision is not as clear as it should be! That explains a lot!
Evolution can in some cases take a long time, in other cases more rapidly.
We, as a species I believe, still have a long way to go. In body and spirit. Imagine if we could do what some other mammals or birds can such as dolphins, elephants, geese or bats for example. Communicate over great distances with no device other than their own bodies, have an inbuilt magnet to always find your way home, have x-ray eyes to spot diseases etc. Instead, we rely heavily on machines for these things. It is clever we have invented devices to do so, but it is only through mimicking what other animals already naturally did. The sad part is that we people tend to rely on these devices ever since. So much so, I believe, it stands true evolution in the way. Computers, GPS, mobile phones have a dark side with the radiation they emit. Oh, but I digress.
Evolution. Change. I sometimes get confronted, as we all do, how some people seem so stuck in their ways and thinking they have stopped using their brain and their own judgement. Evolution does not only happen to bodies over thousands of years, it also happens within. Other than non-human animals who had to change due to their ever evolving environment and have certainly bypassed us in many ways, most humans seem simply unwilling to if given a chance. If given the choice, and they are every day, people rather stick to what they know, what they have been taught, despite the consequences and thus continue to act like it. Even if it means the destruction of our planet for example to name just one light subject . . . Or is it something more than that? Perhaps it’s more due to old habits, pride and tradition than reluctance. Remember, humans only need a push sometimes, especially if others are “doing it” and if something is popular (even if it’s wrong, tests have shown people are followers and feel safer in groups rather than think for themselves). Trends are an example of this and how most people feel they need to have whatever other people have.
By reading fiction one gets exposed to other ways of thinking, of change in a different way, especially speculative fiction. It can be educational and refreshing to read what comes from other minds in the form of fantastic stories. Stories we can relate to, open our eyes, and which protagonist say what we think or want to say, or sometimes we are surprised how a story can change our way of thinking. It can even contribute to our growth. One of my readers even admitted how after reading ‘Quarterling’ had made him think more about his food choices from now on. That is good enough for me. Authors can certainly change people’s way of thinking, how hard it initially may seem. But not unless the reader is already willing and on a certain path.
One other way is through movies or series. Since Netflix came into my life a whole new world has opened up to me. I am pleasantly surprised of what it has to offer. Apart from some great movies there are some brilliant series on there that are worth watching. My tendency goes towards the speculative so series and documentaries such as Black Mirror, 12 Monkeys, Touch, Sense8, Star Trek Discovery, Travelers, Dark, Erased, Innsaei, Cosmos, Saimdang, Secret Healer and Anne with an E just to name a few are among my top 20. I would definitely recommended those series.
To stay with the theme of change especially two series come to mind straight away and what they had to say about change.
One of my favourite series is Anne with an E by Emmy-winning writer-producer Moira Walley-Becket. With themes such as search for identity, bullying, prejudice, diversity, being an outsider, to belong and to be accepted, every episode has much to offer a wide audience. The Canadian drama is loosely based on the 1908 novel “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M Montgomery, featuring a young, complex orphan with deep passions for life and people. With her fresh view of the world and eagerness to share it in fanciful language at every opportunity, she affects the hearts and minds of everyone she meets. In the small village of Avonlea, unmarried, aging siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, expected a boy who could help them on their farm, but what they got instead was Anne Shirley. Their lonely lives from then on are forever changed. A world where anything is possible, calamities are most likely, and the biggest adventure is being yourself.
Some quotes from the last episode:
“Change is uncomfortable because the future is unknown. Yet, the future is riding in fast, like a train.”
“Dreamers change the world. Curious minds propel us forward.”
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
“Different isn’t bad. It’s just not the same.”
“There is always another way to look at things.”
“Change is the only way to grow and learn.”
Another great series is Sense8 which is full of diversity and food for thought. It’s an American sci-fi/lgbt drama created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski. Though I skip through the violent parts, I love the dialogues and how these eight people in different parts of the world are mentally and emotionally linked which can lead to intense situations.
Some quotes on change and diversity from the last episode:
“No one thing is one thing only. How people endow what is familiar with new, ever evolving meaning and by doing so, release us from the unexpected, the familiar, into something unforeseeable. It is in this unfamiliar realm, we find new possibilities. It is in the unknown we find hope.”
“For all the differences between us and all the forces that try to divide us they will never exceed the power of love to unite us.”
“I’m afraid of things permanent because nothing is permanent. Things change, people change.”
“We live in a world that distrusts feelings. Over and over we are reminded that feelings are not as important as reason. That feelings are childish, irresponsible, dangerous. We are taught to ignore them, control them, or deny them. We barely understand what they are, where they come from or how they seem to understand us better than we understand ourselves. But I know that feelings matter. Sometimes they’re little and sometimes they’re huge. However, if you’re lucky a feeling comes along that will change everything.”
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See you next time!
Natasja Hellenthal, author of Lesfic Fantasy novels