The idea behind Knowledge Bomb is to share information that I've come across while researching things for my novels. The idea is to share information that writers probably get wrong or just weren't aware of. Firearms was a popular one and I know I learned a lot. Today, however, I wanted to share some info that's been collecting separate from my research.
See, I'm kind of a nerd. I love learning new things. Science was my bag in school and today Neil DeGrasse Tyson is my patron saint. So when looking at fantasy I sometimes have an annoying habit of injecting a dose of reality, of science into the mix. Now, I'm not the guy that goes around saying "magic isn't real!" No, let's assume it is. I just insist that magic make consistent sense.
All that is to say that look at fiction, especially fantasy, and question why choices were made. A trope that I see a lot is "humans suck." But what are humans? Well, believe it or not, human isn't a term limited to homo sapiens, which is what you and I both are (unless you're a dog capable of sentient thought, reading, and internet skills superior to a 65+ old human). Human, however, isn't our species, it's our genus!
Quick science lesson: your scientific classification is broken down by (in order) Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Genus, and Species. As humans, our genus is Homo. Our species is homo sapiens. With me?
Okay, let's get to the fantasy. The same bit of information I'm going to share covers two topics. First, that we as homosapiens are somehow weak or fragile. The second, is that if there were other sapient beings, we'd lose to them (think Elves and Dwarves). Allow me to draw your attention back to our Genus, Homo. That means we aren't the only human species to have existed.
Most famous were probably the Neanderthals, or Homo Neanderthalensis. They were stockier, stronger, and had equal or larger brain capacity to us. We existed side by side, in fact your genes contain Neanderthal DNA. Why? We had sex. Totally did. And when we were done? We killed the hell out of them. Yeah, we warred with Neanderthals. They had tools, primitive art, even musical instruments by some accounts. We killed them dead.
But there were other humans. Homo habilis, homo floresiensis, homo heidelbergensis, homo erectus, homo denisova, and a whole bunch of others existed on this earth. What happened to them? Homo sapiens (that's us) either killed them, slept with them and then killed them, or just managed to outlast them. Back to the fantasy stuff.
A great calamity hits your fictional world and humans die off. Doubtful. We've survived a hell of a lot as a species. Other races come to claim our land as theirs. Let me point you back at the previous paragraph. So when I see Jurassic World say that a few loose dinosaurs is going to transform this planet into a world of dinosaurs... no. We've killed worse. Planet of the Apes (the new series). That's almost literally what we did as an infant species, fought off competing homonids who wanted to the same resources.
I know this is a little rambly (as all my posts are) but I hope you understand that, while its trendy to hate on humans, you need to remember just how remarkable our journey to the present is. It's inspiring, but also violent. Incredible, but also sad. I think the main problem is this: we think of humans as individuals instead of as this incredible macro-organism that we are. It's no stretch to think a single ant will lose a fight to a spider. But that's not how ants fight or operate. Humans are no different. Yes, any given human will lose a fight to a T-rex, but that's not how we operate. It's not how we grew, evolved, or shaped our world.
We are one species, homo sapiens. Regardless of where we come from, we all share a history that's rich in love and art as well as war and death. But we must never forget that our infancy was one that forged our path in the blood of our foes, those stupid denisovians! Er... I mean... just remember when you're writing about how stupid and lame homo sapiens are, remember that we actually did overcome other races like a cave man Lord of the Rings epic.
Don't Forget to be Awesome (because it's in your genes!)
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.