(or - What the hell am I doing here!?)
NOTES ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
This will not be a particularly elaborate paper. I'm just noting that in the Light Universe and Dark Zone, the human race seems to exist as a monoculture, arguing that all of humanity in these Universes came from a single source.
On our Earth, there have been, from time to time, theories arguing that the human race arose independently in different regions of the planet. So, following this precedent, one might argue that humans may have arisen independently on different worlds in the Dark Zone and Light Universe, and the term should be humanoid rather than human. I don't think that this holds water, for several reasons.
First, there is almost no apparent diversity among human populations of different planets. They almost uniformly follow the same physical models, down to such trivial items as hair distribution patterns on the head, same numbers of fingers, fingernails instead of claws, round pupils instead of slitted, differences in secondary sexual characteristics, etc. etc. etc. If one were to expect humanoid species to arise from different planets, we might expect some degree of variation and adaptation to. Rather, the distribution of characteristics is quite narrow, suggesting a single common origin from a limited gene pool, rather than multiple origins.
We note that there are some freakish individual humanoids. The three biggest exceptions seem to be Giggerota and her amazing tongue and dietary proclivities, the partially furred Feppo, and the blue man on the prisoner transport. Shlemmi in Luvliner claims to have had sex with a variety of very inhuman sounding females.
However, Feppo appears to orient sexually to humans, and his companion is human. Giggerota is apparently treated as fully human, socially (charged with various crimes including failing to fulfill wifely duties), physically (sentenced to dismantling for robot parts) [information from Giggerota's trial is not conclusive proof, as the holotrial seems pretty automatic and inflexible], and sexually (SuperNova/attempted seduction of Stan). So, do the exceptions represent "other" humanoid races, or are they simply freaks?
Xev may be the answer. It appears that existing technology has allowed human DNA to fuse with Cluster Lizard DNA, creating a not wholly human being. We can assume that this happens deliberately from time to time. People who go out and deliberately modify their genome, so they're not wholly human may be psychopaths, as with Giggerota and Feppo, or sexual deviants, as with Shlemmi's prostitutes.
Given that we aren't seeing a lot of it, there must be flaws in the process. Either people with modified DNA body structures are generally unable to reproduce sexually, or there are usually adverse health effects, or there are strong social taboos and proscriptions. In any event, the result is a pretty normal looking basic human stock
Of course, this may be wrong, and Feppo, Giggerota et al may actually be alternative human stocks evolved on other worlds. If this is the case, however, they don't seem to exist in significant numbers, and human space appears to be overwhelmingly dominated by a single human stock. One planet has gone on to colonize the Universes, and the rest of the humanoid species have been shuffled off to the sidelines.
It should be noted that the Dark Zone is not a parallel Universe to the Light Universe. Rather, it is a separate but linked continuum with its own history. The Universes are not mirror images of one another, the Dark Zone, so far as we know, does not contain identical planets, identical stars, or identical animals. There are no 'parallel or mirror earths.'
Apart from a general uniformity in size, shape and appearance, the human race is united apparently by a common language. Everyone, but everyone, speaks the same language. The language spoken in the Dark Zone is the same as, and easily understandable in the Light Universe. Even completely isolated populations unaware of the existence of the rest of the Universe, Potataho and Nook, speak standard dialect quite recognisably.
For the record, human machine language seems pretty universal as well. 790 has no trouble communicating on a machine level with a 200 year old Heretics world ship in Wake the Dead, or an even more ancient and more distant Dream Machine in Patches in the Sky, or a derelict prisoner ship and cyborg circuitry in 791. That's pretty good, considering the current proliferation of DOS, Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac systems.
Only two exceptions emerge to this basic lingua. In Wake the Dead, at least some of the teens employ slang, which is nevertheless closely based on the basic lingua and seems understandable to Stan and the others. The existence of slang, however, suggests that the language should still be evolving or capable of evolution. If this is the case then, it would seem that within a few thousand years, the basic language should have evolved in different places to be literally incomprehensible to other locations.
Why hasn't it? I can only speculate. I'd suggest, however, that a few things are happening. First, literacy, especially widespread literacy, tends to slow or halt the change or evolution of language. English has not changed significantly in the last three hundred years when literacy was becoming relatively widespread. Although go back another hundred to Shakespeare's time and beyond and things get dicey. In the case of the Lexx Universe, literacy would include technical literacy, including the ability to build, operate, program and maintain the machineries on which civilisation depends. Not only novels, but technical manuals are written in a universal language, and technical manuals especially, have to be understood by everyone.
Secondly, one of the sources of change for languages, is borrowing words from other languages. Thus, English moves away from Germanic languages by pirating Latin and French. Jamaican English has borrowings from African languages or slave pidgin. The existence of a basic language which is persisting for thousands of years without significant change, suggests that there aren't really any other competing languages to contribute words.
Third, another source of change for languages comes with technological or social developments. In this respect, I'm going out on a limb, but I'd say that the level of technology for the Universes has been stable for a long, long time. The level of weapons and technology employed by His Divine Shadow two thousand years before to destroy the Brunnen G, don't seem significantly different than what's around now. The technical level of the rescued ship in Wake the Dead, 200 years out of date, doesn't seem that different from what we see briefly in Love Grows. The Dream Machine in Patches in the Sky is hundreds of years old, but overall considered unremarkable, although apparently now quite rare. Overall, the level of technology in the two Universes seems remarkably stable, and seems to have remained stable for a long, long, long time.
If anything, it seems to have declined a bit, as it seems the ancestors, particularly the Brunnen G, were capable of feats the current ages have difficulty matching (stabilising stars, limited teleportation, the burst of life memory recording, transferring whole populations between universes, immortality, winning the insect wars). Remember that the Brunnen G were renowned as Romantic Warriors [romantic dreamers, actually, but that doesn't significantly change the sense of the paragraph. Flare], not as wizards, which suggests that their peers may have been similarly gifted. Generally, I get the impression that travel between the Universes, for humans, must have been a lot easier and more common at one time than it is now. This might be a sign that the Universes have slowly grown more inaccessible to each other, or that the level of technology has declined.
Anyway, all the evidence that we see, suggests a long term, very stable, universal language, which in turn, may allow us to draw conclusions about the state of the Universes civilizations.
Throughout the whole of Lexx, there is only one example of any other language than basic, having been spoken: The Death Song of the Brunnen G.
What are we to make of that? The Brunnen G were the most ancient of the Universes cultures that we've seen anywhere in the Lexx. But even by the time of their abandoning Brunnis, thousands upon thousands of years ago, they seem largely to have abandoned the old language. Given that the language in the memory records was understandable to Stan, it may be that the old language was abandoned well before the departure. In any case, the old language was restricted to ceremonial purposes (death songs) and certain turns of phrase ("burst of life"). The old language may have survived, like Yiddish or Latin, as a special religious speech.
It seems inconceivable that Brunnen G could have been the only other language in the Universe. At one point, there must have been thousands, even millions of others. What happened to the other languages?
Obviously, they fell by the wayside, as many terrestrial languages are doing now. Currently, there are only half as many languages being spoken as there were even a few generations ago. The cause seems to be increasing urbanization and increasing trade, transportation, mobility and communication. Small cultures are being brought into contact with larger more populous or powerful ones, and are losing their language. For purposes of business or trade, science and technology, certain languages become a kind of baseline. Right now, English is well on the way to dominating the planet. The only challenge to English speaking as a first or second language comes from Chinese, who are restricted to a geocultural island (China itself).
It would seem that way back in spacefaring history, or perhaps before humanity in the Lexx universe got into space, one culture and its language became dominant and simply crowded the others out of functional existence.
The more urban and sophisticated a civilisation, the more standardization is demanded. Which is why the metric system is gradually taking over. In many fields, there is a common drive towards standardized units of measurement or evaluation. It may be that a common language was universally accepted and agreed upon. Yes, I can see the human beings of the Star Trek Universe doing this.... but not the Human beings we know on this planet, or the Humans of the Lexx Universes.
A final impulse towards a unified language might have been desperation. If Humanity was embroiled in a genocidal war, having commands and forces under different languages may not have been efficient, and a single language may have been enforced for purposes of survival. Is the human monoculture a product of the Insect Wars?
Doubtful. My impression was that the Insect Wars took place primarily in the Dark Zone, with the Light Universe spared much of it, and thus, there would be comparatively little reason for the basic language to be enforced in this Universe. Also, the basic language is spoken on Nook and Potataho, which suggests either that these cultures were founded after the Insect Wars, or that the basic language was already dominant prior to the Insect Wars. My reason for assuming that the Light Universe was spared much of the Insect War, is that an Insect was able to flee and hide in the Light Universe, which suggests it was much less war torn, paranoid and battle hardened than the Dark Zone. I also think that the war must have happened relatively late in Human expansion, and there'd be too much diversity to pull a monoculture together in the last minute. In addition, we have no evidence of any prior pan-species genocidal conflict, so as far as I'm concerned, it's the insect wars or nothing.
A single state might have enforced a common language, but for reasons discussed elsewhere, I simply don't believe an empire spanning two universes was ever possible. The Divine Order was probably as big a human polity as you could achieve.
Trade languages have also evolved, lingua franca's, either an original tongue or a pidgin, used by travellers or traders and spoken by at least a few people in each village. However, these languages tend to be external to societies, used for dealing with outsiders, rather than being adopted wholesale. While the basic language serves obviously and admirably as a trade language, its clearly much more than that.
Overall, given the relatively uniform physical makeup of humans in the two universes, and the existence of a common language, I would guess that the human race and human culture originated on a single world, whose members went on to colonize not one, but both universes.
So, how ancient is human culture in the Lexx Universe? Good question. The Universes are obviously immense places, where even light can take millions of years to cross. At some point, reliable and effective translight travel must have been perfected, the Lexx can cross the Universe in what seems to be a few months, but before that, it must have been pretty slow going.
So far, it's taken humanity about 10,000 years to fill this planet, although our population and technology started out pretty low. But assuming we started out from here, and assuming more or less instantaneous transport, no other problems, and a steady rate of growth, how long would it take?
Well, Earth's population this century has been doubling every 40 years, so lets use that as a yardstick.
Next question is how much of the Universes are habitable. Again, I've discussed this in another paper, but for the purposes of convenience, lets assume between the two universes, a combined low range of 100,000 worlds and a high range of a 1,000,000. These are, by the way, absolutely tiny numbers considering the number of stars out there.
Assume a carrying capacity for each planet of three billion people. Not too far off the populations for the 100 worlds reported toasted in Stan's Trial. Assume a base population starting at three billion and doubling every forty years (call each doubling a cycle). Assume immediate occupation, no waiting, and a hundred thousand worlds to be filled. We'll do it in 16 cycles, or about 650 years. Assume a million plus worlds? That's only four more cycles, 20 in all, or about 800 years. Ten million worlds? Three more cycles. A little over a thousand years.
Of course, we'll have to assume a much slower rate of expansion. After all, England and France took two centuries to double their population. Other regions have had stable populations for several centuries. And of course, there's the difficulties in light speed, transportation, taming new worlds, getting set up, population slowdowns on settled worlds and stuff like that. So let's assume a cycle, the doubling of human space and population takes about 500 years. In which case, our range is 8000 years for 100,000 worlds, to 12,500 years for 10,000,000 worlds. Even at a thousand years to a cycle, our range is still only 16,000 to 23,0000 years. Not bad considering the size of the Universe.
So where do the Insect Wars fit into this? Well, we can reasonably assume that Humanity hadn't totally filled both Universes when the wars broke out. If we had, it would have been known as "the big swat." For that matter, we don't even know that Humanity had significantly begun to fill the Light Universe, or even where humanity started off. The only thing we know, from Brigadoom, is that the war seems to have taken place largely in the Dark Zone.
Let's explore some possibilities.
1) Humanity starts in the Light Universe, pretty much fills the place, begins to fill the Dark Zone, meets Insects and the war breaks out. Insect attack may or may not penetrate into the Light Universe.
2) Humanity starts out in the Dark Zone, discovers the Light Universe, and is steadily filling both when we meet the Insects in the Dark Zone and the war breaks out. Light Universe becomes a refugee point during dark days of the war. Insect attack may or may not penetrate into the Light Universe.
Humanity starts out in and filling the Dark Zone, meets the insects, war breaks out, the Light Universe is filled during and after the war, which is why its still a part of Light Universe folklore.
Setting aside any possible period of time where the two species may have coexisted I would make an educated guess that Humanity was somewhere between halfway to three quarters of the way through its expansion cycles when the War broke out. Using the thousand year maximum for a doubling cycle, that would be somewhere between 8000 and 17,500 years.
If we assume post insect wars history to be 2,000 years post destruction of Brunnis 2, 10,000 years of Brunnis 2, decadence, and call it another thousand years or so between the end of the insect wars and the abandonment of Brunnis, we have an interstellar human civilisation between 20,000 and 30,000 years old. Which is pretty respectable, but considering the size of the Universe, that's still an amazingly short time.
Human civilisation right now, is perhaps 10,000 years old, give or take a few thousand. Mind you, the Neanderthal culture, or what we know of it, seems to have lasted on the order of as much as a quarter of a million years.
But even so, 20,000 to 30,000 years? Could a human culture or language survive that long without fracturing into hundreds of new components. I think it's possible. Our own culture bears relics of more ancient traditions: Our months come from the Romans of two millennia ago, and we still retain some of the base 6 counting systems of the Babylonians of six to eight millennia (12 months, 24 hours, 60 minutes to an hour, 60 seconds to a minute, etc.).
Given a highly mobile, technologically sophisticated, hyper-literate culture, it is probably not unreasonable that a basic language might easily endure that long.
But aside from the basic tools, like language and symbols, what else would survive. Time, unfortunately moves on. Nowadays, the epic of Gilgamesh isn't selling a lot of copies in the book Superstore. The Greek and Roman classics may have a little corner to themselves, but it's a dusty corner. Right now, Shakespeare is doing pretty good at only 400 years old. But what about 4000? How many of us could find Athens and Sparta on a map. Or point out the sites of major battles of the Peloponnesian or Punic wars? Just about any feature or aspect of modern life or history will have been lost in the sands of time as the human race spreads among the stars. Expect a lot of history and literature to be made in this future's past.
Indeed, the best indicator of the ancient history of Humanity is probably Kai. He grew up in a culture which was essentially a fossilized relic of much earlier days, and even in its heyday, the Brunnen G seem to have been tightly bound to ancient traditions. It's significant that Kai knew what a theatre was, in Brigadoom, where the others did not.
Some final notes. The Beans have said that the Lexx Universes have no connection with Earth. The fact that there was almost certainly a source world doesn't necessarily mean that Earth has to be it. Or that Earth even exists, or has or will ever have existed, in either of the Lexx continua.
Perhaps they simply meant no visible connection. If my guesses are accurate, it's entirely possible that the root culture from which Humanity springs in Lexx, is our Earth, but an Earth so far back in the past, that we are entirely forgotten. There is one significant recurring clue (apart from Kai's knowledge of what seems to be a very Earthlike theatre) that links our Earth to the Lexx future: Stan. Or specifically, Stan's hat and uniform, which bear the Arabic numeral "4" on them, and which represent his status as a security guard 4th class (we also see a security guard 2nd class who has the Arabic numeral "2" on his uniform). Arabic numerals are a numeric system which has a clear terrestrial evolution: you can go back and see how the shapes changed and developed into their present form, over time. A numeric system developed elsewhere in the Universe, or in a different culture, would likely be different. This is strongly suggestive that we're looking at an Earth origin.
Of course, it could be that just as the series language is presented as English for the audience, numeric symbols are presented as recognisable as well, and that there's no real connection to Earth.
Finally, I'll note that the isolated and ignorant culture of Potatoho, a world which has no idea that there are other beings out there means that Earth in the Lexx Universe could be a similar backwater. We might exist at any point or any time in the Universe's history as an isolated world, rather than the source world.
On this front, the beans have an interesting idea floating around for the last episode. "The Lexx comes to this star, and they find third out from the sun, a beautiful blue green pearl of a planet with a large moon orbiting it..... And they blow it up."
NOTES: This paper is of course, quite speculative, given the limited base of information. Given the limitations of the hard information, assumptions have been made from time to time which appear to be reasonable. Wherever possible these assumptions have been disclosed. Also, please note that given the uncertainties involved, estimates can only be considered roughly accurate, and many numbers have been rounded or roughed off to a great degree.
© 1999 Darrow
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