Blog Post Number 23 Written: 06-08-2021 Uploaded: 06-24-2022
Warning, Minor spoilers in this post too…
I felt the universe I was creating for The Descendant needed more, more races, more diversity, more culture. One of the best ways I have ever seen that done was in David Brinn’s star tide rising trilogy where humanity had uplifted both chimpanzees and dolphins. The interaction between them and humans, and the culture and color they all brought to the table made for a very complex and fulfilling environment to read about. I loved, I still love those books. I should pick up a set for myself since the actual books I read belong to my father and are still in his possession.
I figured it would be a good addition to the depth of the universe to have some uplifted peoples. And that whole indentured servitude relationship, but as much as I liked David Brinn’s Chimpanzees, I felt like I couldn’t reuse chimpanzees, partially because that’s such an obvious choice, and partially because they had already been done, I’m sure by more authors than just Mr. Brinn. I thought about other intelligent creatures here on earth.
You know what’s really smart? Like scary-smart? Like the most alien creatures native to planet earth that are known to have intelligence, like actual testable IQ levels of smarts. Octopi.
Humans in my universe uplifted Octopi. They’re very smart. They’re invertebrate cephalopods, and the only bone in their body is their beak, but they are damn smart. They can open jars, solve puzzles, crawl out of their tank, cross a room, crawl into another tank, eat the shrimp in it, and then crawl back to their own tank. In the wild, they have been observed to carry coconut shells with them while crossing open ocean floors to hide in them, to shelter in them. Their blood is blue, not red because it’s not based on iron it’s got hemocyanin that keeps them warm at cold temperatures, like, they have antifreeze in their blood. Their skin changes color, but not based on hormones like a chameleon that can take 20 or 30 seconds, but almost instantly because it’s controlled both consciously and subconsciously. Just like you and I breathe, your body does it on its own, and octopi’s skin will automatically change to match the surrounding terrain, it’s been shown in labs that even severed arms and small sections of flesh change colors to match surroundings without input from a brain. But they can consciously decide on colors too, just like you can decide to hold your breath. But sure they can quickly change skin colors, they can change their texture too. The most advanced optical camouflage in the animal world. They also have nine brains, there is a main central brain, but each of their eight arms has it’s own brain, and if not monitored by the central brain, the arms will on autopilot with their own brains wander and explore all on their own. And if severed arms can grow back, and because they don’t have any b0nes they squish and can squirm into all kinds of strange small places. They are smart, solitary, physically advanced in complex ways humans can only imagine and they’re cephalopods, they’re something like 450 million years older than we are, octopi and their relatives have been wandering around, exploring and doing stuff in the oceans since before there was even life on land. They might be one of the most advanced life forms on the planet.
I hypothesize they’re already smart enough. And in the Descendant Universe, the uplifted octopi have had some gene modification to make speech and life on dry land easier for them, and that’s it. Writing from the POV has been great speculative fun since they are so smart, inquisitive but also solitary creatures. I hope you like their addition to the story as much as I do. I hope they add that extra flavor to keep it interesting, and I really suggest you do some research on our aquatic neighbors, because they’re weird, in a cool interesting way.
So, in the lore of The Descendant, Russian scientists did some genetic manipulation to some Octopi pulled from the cold norther oceans and employed them as engineers on space ships where they could fit into small confined spaces and work on systems that humans could never reach. And a whole new class of warships were built around octopus engineers being onboard to service them. They are drafted into the navy and given ranks, but because of their shorter 5-10 year lifespans they are never able to achieve the rank of any major standing, and their solitary sullen lifestyle and attitudes don’t help either. The Octopi in turn resent the humans for having tampered with them, with nature and they just want to be left alone to peacefully explore in the depths of the oceans and eventually, mostly out of resentment, because now with the genetic modifications they can’t really go back to full-time ocean life, the defect from the Russian federation and join the AACR, where in exchange for their services they are allowed more control over themselves and their evolution and they begin undoing the genetic tampering of their own accord so that in a couple of generations they can return to the oceans. In the meantime, they continue to serve as engineers on the AACR ships. Solitary, lonely figures crammed into the dark quiet places aboard a spaceship, their large intelligent eyes peering out of the gloom watching the human crew, silent lurking 80 pound 7-foot long Octopi, in confined spaces with a bunch of AACR naval personnel. I’m sure it will all work out fine for both parties.