I am so BUMMED. The Tucson Festival of Books was cancelled over fears of the Coronavirus. Never mind that thousands die in the US every year from the flu. That doesn't sell papers or attract viewers. NO, this is a CRISIS! The press has blown this into a world disaster. The real danger is to the economy. That is where everybody will suffer. We're looking at a major effect on every American. Trump is right when he minimizes it. I don't agree with him on a lot of things but he's nailed this one.
This reminds me of Michael Crichton's book, State of Fear. It is fear that drives us to give up control of our lives to someone else on the hope of security. BAH That doesn't work.
I touched on this in my book Dead Reckoning, but in that case, it was a real danger from one of the most lethal pathogens the world has ever seen, SMALLPOX. The Russians and the United States tried to weaponize it, but it was too dangerous. (Russia still maintains a repository of weaponized smallpox at Koltsovo .) Now, few people have immunity. Those vaccinated more than ten years ago are again unprotected. That's most of us because it was declared destroyed. Not so.
THE EVOLUTION OF EVOLUTION
By R. L. Clayton
Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language defines Biological Evolution as the continuous genetic adaption of organisms or species to the environment by the integrating agencies of selection, hybridization, inbreeding, and mutation. In plain terms, life adapts to survive, and that’s evolution.
But other things evolve: Society, technology, language. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find things that don’t evolve. One thing that is evolving is evolution itself. Evolution is the response to changes in the environment, but humans have reached a unique turning point where the ability to genetically adapt the world’s flora and fauna can be controlled through genetic engineering. We can change things by design, rather than in response to the environment.
We are on the verge of the Genetic Age. Humans have moved through many ages: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, The Industrial Age, the Atomic Age, the Electronic Age, to name a few. These ages represented the development of technology that changed human society, and who could have foreseen what changes these developments would bring? That is where we are now with the Genetic Age. Who can foresee all of the results that the design and control of life will bring?
With human evolution, we look back through fossil records, plotting out the evolution of humans from ancestors to today. What about looking forward? We will all be dead, but where will humanity be in 1000 years, or 10,000 years? Will there be physiological changes? Will we have bigger heads to accommodate bigger brains? Will we have connections to the internet built in?
One key point is that species evolve–individuals do not. Individuals adapt, but evolution occurs generationally. Or does it? In the Genetic Age, we have the ability to change ourselves fundamentally. Whether we are curing diseases with designed cells and viruses or fixing genetic defects in vitro, we are changing ourselves. That is a basic change in evolution.
Perhaps we need to consider a new definition of evolution, and a new definition of species. If we create new species of life, who is the evolved species? Is it what we’ve created, or is it us, the creators?
The imagination runs wild. What if we could grow a house, or have a plant that would consume pollution and emit oxygen? What if we could grow replacement organs for ourselves, or in the extreme, change our own DNA to what it was when we were twenty? It’s not only possible, much of it is already happening.
I will not argue whether it is right or wrong. That is opinion. Trying to stop these changes will only delay them or drive the technology underground where we really don’t know what’s happening. These things will happen, because that is the path of evolution, and we must embrace it. Species that do not evolve become extinct.
The next step of evolution has already begun. It’s here with marvelous advancements in fighting disease and improving our lives. What parent would not want their child to be born with a defect that would impair them for life? Who would not want the chance to survive cancer? Articles appear weekly in the media telling of these advancements. What’s different with the Genetic Age is that we have the ability to change humanity.
We know that to remain solely on Earth will insure extinction when an event occurs creating change greater than the ability to adapt. It has happened many times in the past, and will happen again. We have dreams of colonies in space and on other planets, but the truth is that we were designed to live on Earth. Existence elsewhere is feasible, but hugely expensive and not truly possible without support from Earth. A new evolutionary step is required for survival.
With deep introspection, we realize some uncomfortable truths about humanity. Like every species on Earth, we are in competition for resources with other creatures and with ourselves. The basic drives so integral to us could be our undoing. Humans were not made to live in heaven, but need competition and conflict. Yet the march of evolution continues as the descendants of descendants must move out into the universe, expanding and growing.
The fanciful Evolution River Series (www.evolutionriver.com), eerily logical and realistic, presents one description of the journey along the path of evolution. Do you really want to see where evolution is going? Perhaps this series is right, perhaps not, but it is a good read, and it will make you think. It will make you look at evolution with a new perspective. Evolution is evolving.
Arizona author, Bob Clayton, will be at the Tucson Festival of Books (http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/) February 14 and 15 from 9:30 until 4:00. I’ll be in the Big Brothers-Big Sisters booth #448.
Risen from the Dead: Sequel to Dead & Dead for Real
Penelope the Pooting Spider: An Epic Arachnid Battle for the Environment
Reviews of the Dead Series are in
The 4th in the Dead Series is in the works, Stay tuned!
"I was captivated by the way Clayton weaved so many interesting characters and twisted frighteningly plausible storylines together to create a story that I couldn’t put down until the final conclusion"
Stephen Beacher—Indie Book Reviewers on Dead Reckoning
"This is an impressive effort from author R.L. Clayton, and it is quite clear that he is an author to watch. There is the spark of something wonderfully original here."
Jenna Brewster—Indie Book Reviewers on Dead & Dead for Real
The story behind the story of Sea Species
My story ideas come from the world around us and from dreams. I was somewhat familiar with the Biosphere II project. There was magic in their mission of creating a space colony on Earth to learn how to create habitats in space and on other planets. It was fertilizer for the imagination. I built on that and their idea of living with very small footprints. The site for their underground settlement was at the foot of Baboquivari Peak, an enchanting place I’d visited years. Tohono O’Odham legend has it as the birthplace of the people on earth. Thus the name became Kihhim meaning village in the native language. What a great place for a new species to be born!
Sea Species was my first book, and I was amazed how the ideas evolved as I wrote. My first draft was horrible, with poor plot and poor character development. I rewrote. And rewrote and rewrote. I still did not seek a professional editor and had to publish a 2nd edition with much of the errors removed. I later published a 3rd edition because I wanted to tie my Dead Series into the Evolution River Series.
The characters in the story took over, telling me the plot had to go. I pictured Leticia looking like Halle Berry, while Katharine looked like Rene Russo. Ron Carson was a younger version of Harrison Ford. I slashed more than half of that first draft. I was learning to write better. What started out as an angry anti-societal rant became a story of two species struggling to trust each other and get along.
Sea Species was my take on where evolution is going from here. The reality of using genetics to design life was catching up to my story too fast. When I started writing, it was 80% fiction. By the time I finished it was less than 50%. To me, the genetic engineers designing life became a new species, and the logical next step in human evolution. They were able to design themselves to accommodate the environment rather than change the environment to accommodate them.
I was determined this story would not degenerate into a trite series of battles between humans and genetic monsters. The GEs became the protagonists trying to convince humans they could be compatible, not the danger imagined. For acceptance, the human race had to mature. In the mid-twentieth century, the idea of aliens from other worlds was solely the fodder of science fiction writers. Far too many times they were villains trying to conquer Earth. The true existence of extraterrestrials was not accepted. Today only a few do not entertain the possibility. But could humans accept another native intelligent species on Earth? That is the story of Sea Species.