So there has been a bit of “what if humans were the weird ones?” going around tumblr at the moment and Earth Day got me thinking. Earth is a wonky place, the axis tilts, the orbit wobbles, and the ground spews molten rock for goodness sakes. What if what makes humans weird is just our capacity to survive? What if all the other life bearing planets are these mild, Mediterranean climates with no seasons, no tectonic plates, and no intense weather?
What if several species (including humans) land on a world and the humans are all “SCORE! Earth like world! Let’s get exploring before we get out competed!” And the planet starts offing the other aliens right and left, electric storms, hypothermia, tornadoes and the humans are just … there… counting seconds between flashes, having snowball fights, and just surviving.
To paraphrase one of my favorite bits of a ‘humans are awesome’ fiction megapost: “you don’t know you’re from a Death World until you leave it.” For a ton of reasons, I really like the idea of Earth being Space Australia.
Earth being Space Australia
Words cannot express how much I love these posts
Alien: “I’m sorry, what did you just say your comfortable temperature range is?”
Human: “Honestly we can tolerate anywhere from -40 to 50 Celcius, but we prefer the 0 to 30 range.”
Alien: “……. I’m sorry, did you just list temperatures below freezing?”
Human: “Yeah, but most of us prefer to throw on scarves or jackets at those temperatures it can be a bit nippy.”
Other human: “Nah mate, I knew this guy in college who refused to wear anything past his knees and elbows until it was -20 at least.”
Human: “Heh. Yeah everybody knows someone like that.”
Alien: “……. And did you also say 50 Celcius? As in, half way to boiling?”
Human: “Eugh. Yes. It sucks, we sweat everywhere, and god help you if you touch a seatbelt buckle, but yes.”
Alien: “……. We’ve got like 50 uninhabitable planets we think you might enjoy.”
“You’re telling me that you have… settlements. On islands with active volcanism?”
“Well, yeah. I’m not about to tell Iceland and Hawaii how to live their lives. Actually, it’s kind of a tourist attraction.”
“What, the molten rock?”
“Well, yeah! It’s not every day you see a mountain spew out liquid rocks! The best one is Yellowstone, though. All these hot springs and geysers from the supervolcano–”
“You ACTIVELY SEEK OUT ACTIVE SUPERVOLCANOES?”
“Shit, man, we swim in the groundwater near them.”
Sounds like the “Damned” trilogy by Alan Dean Foster.
“And you say the poles of your world would get as low as negative one hundred with wind chill?”
“Yup, with blizzards you cant see through every other day just about.”
“Amazing! when did you manage to send drones that could survive such temperatures?”
“… well, actually…”
“…we kinda……. sent……….. people…..”
“no yeah I heard you I just- what? You sent… HUMANS… to a place one hundred degrees below freezing?”
“and they didn’t… die?”
“Well the first few did”
“PEOPLE DIED OF THE COLD AND YOUR SOLUTION WAS TO SEND MORE PEOPLE???!?!?!?”
My new favorite Humans are Weird quote
“PEOPLE DIED OF THE COLD AND YOUR SOLUTION WAS TO SEND MORE PEOPLE?”
aka The History of Russia
aka Arctic Exploration
aka The History of Alaska
Being from Alaska, this was sort of how I felt going to college in the lower 48′s and learned that no one else had been put through a literal survival camp as a regular part of their school curriculum, including but not limited to:
1. Learning to recognize all forms of animal tracks in the wild so you can avoid bears and moose and search out rabbits and other small animals to eat.
2. Extensive swimming and climbing on glacial pieces with competitions to see who could last the longest, followed by a group sit in the sauna so we wouldn’t get hypothermia (no, not kidding, I really did this many times as a kid!)
3. How to navigate using the stars to get back to civilization.
4. How to select the right type of moss from the trees to start a fire with damp wood (because, y’know, you’re in a field of snow. Nothing is dry.)
5. How to carve out a small igloo-like space to sleep in the snow to preserve body heat and reduce the windchill so you won’t freeze to death in the arctic.
“I’m telling you, I don’t think we need to worry about territory conflicts with the humans. You know all those deathtrap hell-worlds in the Argoth Cluster?”
“Those worthless rocks? Yeah.”
“80% of them are considered ‘resort destinations’ by those freaky little primates.”
“I’m telling you, they terraform for fun!”
“Don’t be ridiculous”
“No, seriously. Some of their most celebrated cultural loci are built on swamps. They have an entire city that is literally in a body of water. Not, like, an artificial pontoon city, they literally sunk the foundations into water. For Grilp’s sake, they build elaborate structures out of frozen water AND THEN SLEEP IN THEM.”
“Dear Thilak. Think we could get them to terraform our moons?”
“Psh, they’d probably pay for the privilege.”
Eventually, it occurs to someone that humans are the perfect terraforming shock troops, as it were. They think it’s fun to be sent to horrible planets! They’re really good at surviving and then taming them! All you have to do is sit back and wait until the planet is habitable, and then move there yourself! It’s genius.
It only takes one try before the reality of the situation sets in: human definitions of ‘taming’ and ‘habitable’ are woefully incomplete.
“Why did you not eliminate the venomous plant life?” Grahssk’ti moans, clutching one limb.
“Those?” The human laughs. “Why bother? They’re not that bad. And they eat the mosquitoes.”
Grahssk’ti shudders. The ‘mosquitoes’ are… not to be mentioned. Just one swarm of them caused a landing shuttle to crash three planetary daylights ago.
“And the acid storms? Why did you not warn us of them?”
“I mean, they’re annoying,” the human says, shrugging, “but we figured the cool sunsets made up for it.”
Grahssk’ti flails helplessly. “What about the ten-meter tall Fanged Death Bringers? They can eliminate an entire settlement in under an hour!”
“They’re so cute!” the human says, brightening. “Have you met mine? Her name is Spot!”
Humans are told of some planet or region of space that is considered “completely and utterly inhospitable – it would be folly to try and settle there.”
Without fail, a decent number make it a point to settle there because “Fuck You That’s Why.” It doesn’t matter how uneconomical it is, how difficult the conditions are, how utterly ridiculous it may seem, there will be at least one human who will attempt to do it only because someone else regardless of species says it is improbable or WORSE impossible.
“This moon is still forming as such it is primarily soft – by that I mean most of the magma is close to the surface and-”
‘OH BADASS you mean its like Mustafar right!?!?!?! I’m totally going to build a castle there.’
“What. I mean. There is NO fertile ground there whatsoever. No ecosystem. It is molten rock and minerals only.”
‘Which will make my castle there look METAL AS FUCK am I RIGHT!?!??! Come on. COME ON. I TAUGHT YOU HOW TO FISTBUMP COME ON.’
“….you….you are going to die, you know this right?”
‘I’m getting the feeling you don’t want to come to Lava Castle for some reason?’
“Listen, lad. I’ve built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was molten magma. All those aliens said I was daft to build a castle on a molten planet, but I built it all the same, just to show ‘em. It sank into the magma. So, I built a second one. That sank into the magma. So I built a third one. That spontaneously combusted, turned to ash, then sank into the magma. But the fourth one stayed up. An’ that’s what your gonna get, lad – the strongest castle in this solar system.”
“I’m gonna need for you to explain ‘hurricane parties’ to me again. You humans have the technology to track these apocalyptic storms of wind and rain and predict where on the landmass they’ll hit up to a week in advance. And you…have social gatherings during them?”
“Well yeah, but only up to about Category 3 strength. Then it’s time to pack the car and head inland for most people, although a few hardy souls stick around and ride them out.”
“Oh good. Category 3 is what again? Winds up to 75 kilometers per hour?”
“No no, Category 3 starts at 175 kilometers per hour. You left off the one.”