Mundane SF — Not so mundane

Given that scientific laws are universal.  And given the number of planets we know are in the universe. Then it is inevitable that life — and probably intelligent life — exists in the universe. As far as I know mundane SF hasn’t written about this.

— Late addition (17/July/12) I read on Charles Stross’ blog that he’s just finished a Mundane Space Opera. If there are aliens in it, I have yet to see…



  1. Thanks for a thought-provoking post. I’d agree with the first half, but not necessarily the second. Although we don’t know the exact circumstances under which life arose, it’s hard to believe that they were so unique to our planet that it’s never happened anywhere else. On the other hand, we know quite a lot about the circumstances under which human intelligence arose, and it seems to have depended on quite a lot of contingencies. Seeing as how it’s happened exactly once on our planet, I don’t know that we can assign it a high probability.
    I’m writing a novel set in the far future now, and am considering whether all intelligent life will be human (though changed and adapted to different circumstances on different planets) or whether any other intelligent species will exist.

    1. Fair point about the development of intelligence. I’d say (with the usual caveats about the potential of intelligence for destruction) that intelligence can be seen as giving an evolutionary advantage. And is therefore likely to arise. What is interesting for the rules of mundane SF however, is that such an intelligence doesn’t need to be human, or an intelligence that’s comparable to ours. (Which would increase the probability of it arising.)

      1. Very good point! Also a terrifying one, if you have my sort of imagination: I’m now picturing creatures with highly developed reasoning skills, but nothing resembling human empathy. Since I’m writing an adventure story set in the far future on other planets, this is a good thing!

      2. I think the problem is ending up with something so alien that readers can’t make any emotional connection. A weird creature without empathy that comes to mind is the black cloud in , err The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle. Very dated compared to current SF attitudes but it would make a great SF film.

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