Friday, January 12, 2007

Blog Crawl -- alien romances: Does Human Nature Exist?

Margaret Carter is cool. I don't believe I've ever told her that, so I think I should declare my admiration now. Her post about how technology and culture differences affect who we are and who we become, and just how far we can deviate from our hard-wired parts is a delight.

It ends with this statement (and I agree with it): No matter how much technology changes, it's probable that our descendants two or three centuries from now will be, in the essentials that make them human, fairly similar to ourselves.

What fascinates me about "human nature" is how wide and varied it is, and how only such a narrow band of our behavior spectrum is sanctioned by our culture. It's always instructive to remember that we all have the capability to be saints or psychopaths, depending on our neurology, nurture and personal choices. We're an interesting species, living with tremendous inner tension. It's equally our nature to kill and create. We're a strange bunch.

So while Ms. Carter is correct in that human will probably stay human, as authors we have tremendous latititude in envisioning human alternatives. But that means as authors we have to think in ways that might be uncomfortable, might challenge our own ideas and preconceptions about what's right and what's wrong. What's acceptable and what's taboo. Even what constitutes a happy ending. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Speculative romance is not a place for the mind unwilling to take a walk on the dark side now and again.

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