Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brainstorming Thursday: Plant People?

Who's to say that the intelligent alien we encounter is humanoid or insecticide, or canine, cat like or any other species that we consciously think of as "animal"?

What if the this intellectual being is actually, say, of the plant variety?

I know, I know, your mind is probably jumping to gigantic Venus Fly Traps... and singing one of the songs from Little Shop of Horrors. But I want to think outside the bubble of SF normality for a sec. Come, come with me my geeky buddies into the realm of Outside-Box Land.

What triggered this thought is an episode of Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole titled "How Do Aliens Think?" (LOVE that show by the way.) It put a challenge to watchers about what aliens would actually be when we met up with them. Part of the episode delved into the cognitive processes of plants.

Did you know that plants have several "intellectually charged" behaviors. They are just so much slower, quieter and differently executed than us. They can smell, touch, taste, and possibly hear. Researchers believe they might even have a form of "talk".

For example, there is a problem-solving vine. They don't have roots and they don't thrive through photosynthesis. These ropey vampires attach to other plants and suck the life out of them. To find their next food an "offshoot vine" searches and grows until it finds its next host, smells to detect if its healthy and then begins its feast.

Oh, oh! Then there are plants who can release an odor to call for help from insects to ward off pests. This scent/odor then communicates the dangerous situation to other plants who respond by releasing their own defensive odors.

Now, of course, that doesn't mean they are intellecutally conscious as we mighty humans define it. That takes the special "self-awareness" aspect that seems special to only us. But, wouldn't it be fantastic if plants on another planet had developed self-awareness? What if they had little families, dreams and aspirations, and a sense of community.
There could be dynamic communities of plant "races" and "species" trying to live and exist peacefully together. They could have a partnership with an alien insect that pollinated their community... heck could even be protectors like the wasp when a caterpillar tries to start munching on a plant's leaves.

What do you think? Too farfetched for today's "mature" SF? I know they had killer plants and whatnot in the pop SF of the early days but it seems to have trended away.

On a slightly side note, this post reminded me of a scene I did for Echoes of Regret (Telomere Trilogy, #2). Here it is for the fun of it.

* * * * *

"Beautiful," she (Brenda) whispered then blushed when she realized Captain Yourimoc overheard her and smiled.

"Yes, I agree. Look, all the flowers."

"You notice the beauty? Most men wouldn't," she commented, pleasantly surprised.

"I notice beauty in all things," he said, regarding her with a direct stare for a long moment.

She forced herself to meet his gaze. He grinned and then returned his attention forward. To calm herself, she took in the flowers he'd gestured toward. Vibrantly showcased by the green forest, the flowers posed. Purple blooms with narrow bodies and three petals spun up and then out at the tips. Pink flowers, with tightly packed petals, grouped along the ground. Blue ones, similar to roses, rested on vines, wound around and along the trees. Yellow flowers, soft and puffy like a ball of cotton stood tall and stiff near rocks.

Brenda peered into the trees and spotted a huge blossom growing on the branch of a tree. Folded downward, she only saw a single petal, soft blue with muted purple veins streaked from the base, curved along the body of the petal and accentuated its curves and dips.

The petal vibrated and the purple shimmered. Slowly unfolding, they revealed a petite form curled underneath. What had been mistaken for a petal was in reality a wing, one of two attached to a body of light dusty pink.

"Captain," she whispered. She touched his forearm with one hand and raised her other for the group to stop. She then pointed. The captain's body stiffened, tensed. What power underneath, she couldn't resist noticing, even in the moment.

The creature, skin smooth and shimmery like the wings, stayed in its curled position as the wings unfolded to its sides. The move revealed arms infused into the wings, hands with extremely long fingers extended out at the top corner edge of the spans.

A small head lifted to stare at the group, bright purple eyes stared intently. Ears, long and willowy like petals, rested high on the sides of the head. With no eyelids or eyelashes, the face was round without cheekbones or apparent nose. Small lips indicated a mouth, which seemed to purse together. Cocking the head to one side the creature took on an almost human characteristic, curiosity.

Its lower half, originally tucked down, slowly straightened to show long lean legs and claw-like feet. What had seemed like a small creature was in actuality a very long creature, with more leg than torso. Its chest had no breasts, nipples, or belly button. There was no distinguishing gender.

* * * * *

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  1. Like Zhaan from Farscape. She was a plant life form.

    1. Oh wow, did you just throw me into the past! It's been forever since I've seen that show. LOL, the only thing I really remember about her is totally pervy... something with sun-causing orgasms.