Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What If...?

The question “What if...?”generates a lot of speculative fiction.

  1. FACT: A 1992 TIME magazine article on the 53-centuries-old “Ice Man” discovered in the Alps reported that women had inquired about the possibility of having his baby. What if... we found a frozen, pregnant Neanderthal shaman and could transplant the embryo into a modern surrogate mother? =  Ember from the Sun.

  1. FACT: Anthropologists have determined that the Chinese voyaged to South America centuries before Columbus. What if... the Chinese had established a colony in the Amazonian mountains—hidden, until now? = Down to Heaven.

  1. FACT: Nobel Laureate Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA, believed the genetic molecule was intentionally “seeded” on Earth from another world. What if... mitochondria, the power-plants of our cells (mitochondria contain their own, separate DNA) are actually life-seeds from another galaxy? = Second Nature

  1. FACT: Angela Jolie wore a few drops of her (former) husband’s blood in a pendant around her neck. What if celebrities sold their living skin cells in growth cultures that fans could wear as jewelry or trade like trading cards.

  1. What if... people existed as neuter sexes until they went into heat—then they became whatever gender is appropriate to the mate who made them sexually aroused. = The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula Le Guin.

  1. What if... nearby stars was about to go super-nova, and the human race found out it had only a year left to live? Two years to live? Ten years to live?

  1. What if... we received a message from space saying “By the time you translate this message, our ambassadors will be among your population.” But the rest of the message is hopelessly garbled? Are they ambassadors of peace, or are they forward military scouts? Why won’t they make themselves known?

  1. What if... we would quickly sicken or die if we didn’t have sex daily? How could husbands or wives go away to conferences? Would there be emergency sex stations (gives Jack-in-the-Box a new meaning)? Or what if, it wasn’t sex that was necessary for survival, but to be in a relationship, such that people would actually wither and die from being single? Popularity would be genetically selected, because unpopular people would die from loneliness before reaching reproductive age. You could call the short story or novel, Popularity Contest.

  1. Nietzsche said, “Whatever does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” What if... by physically torturing someone you love, you could make them stronger/healthier? By nearly killing them with pain, you could make them virtually invincible? What if it was emotional torture that fortified your loved one? How far would you go to enhance their survivability?

  1. What if... an intuition-enhancing drug called Empathy enabled people to see into each other’s minds for a few hours. Great for lovers? An alternative punishment for criminals?

  1. What if... to stand out in a crowd of young people with multiple tattoos, the “cutting-edge” types will need to go far beyond—into decorative scarring, branding and mutilation? (This particular speculation is already starting to manifest.)

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