Awful Symmetry 1: The Believable Monster

This is the first chapter of a short introduction to speculative biology. It was seen first by subscribers, so, you know…subscribe.

Introduction: The Believable Monster

The Imagine a tiger. Striped fur over bunching muscles. Its sharp, wet smell. Hot air on the back of your neck. Teeth.

That’s your ecology and animal behavior. Anatomy comes next as you – at least the most nutritious parts of you – make their way through the tiger’s digestive system. Biochemistry explains exactly how the matter and energy contained in your tissues are disassembled and re-forged into more tiger. More tigers, even, if the cat that devoured you is lucky enough to find a mate. Evolution takes over from there, generating the end as well as the beginning of our story.

That’s how I’ve arranged this book, moving from the big, emergent picture to the small and fundamental. That’s the order of importance for most viewers, and more writers as well. If all you care about is what the animal wants to eat, you can safely stop at the end of chapter one, confident that you have created a good tool to move your plot along. Subsequent chapters will get more technical, and using them will allow you to do more sophisticated things with your creature-design.

If it’s worth calling life at all, extraterrestrial life will have ecology, behavior, anatomy, chemistry reproduction, and evolution. No matter how strange an alien is, it still has to work within the laws of our universe. There is such a thing as a believable monster.

Read on if you are nerd enough.


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