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Weren't the Amnion cool?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am    Post subject: Weren't the Amnion cool? Reply with quote

Michael Giantfriend started this discussion. He said, and I quote,
Quote:
I'm sorry, but I love the Amnion as an enemy species. Force growing, mind-transfer, genetic imperatives and "Kazes", Faster-Than-Light Proton Cannon and the rest of it! They're great!

Donaldson really seems to have tried to make the Amnion about as "Alien" as he can - and they're about the most alien "Aliens" in any sci-fi books I've read. What do the rest of you think?

It was interesting that Donaldson didn't try to explain the thought processes of the Amnion themselves. Rather he explained the thought processes of the hybrid Human/Amnions and the difficulties they met in trying to think back to what it was like as a Human. That's one thing a lot of sci-fi authors don't get right - whatever the alien, it's very unlikely that they're going to have a thought process anything like a Human, so it's not a good idea to try to explain how they think or why - unless you want to end up with a Star Trek novel on your hands...

Be seeing you...


For the archive, click here Weren't the Amnion cool?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes they were. I'm not much into SciFi - more into Fantasy and even then not much into that. I really liked the feel of his world - nearly all aspects of it (except for some of the technical oddities perhaps). Is it really Sci Fi or is it more Fantasy in space?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I compeletely agree with the above quote.

Actually, I found one of the most facinating chapters in the whole series was 'Marc' in TDAGD. Its the only true glimpse into Amnion thinking and culture. And becuase its so brief - offering just a few insights from Marc's point of view - it does effectively leave the Amnioin's thought process very alien indeed.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Is it really Sci Fi or is it more Fantasy in space?


wow .. a fascinating distinction .. actually I think that is precisely what sci-fi is .. science fantasy .. mmm ... cool ..

though I have to add that I think the Gap really was less of a fantasy .. having said that .. (above) .. It contained a lot of hard cold reality .. which can be a part of a fantasy .. but it just seemed more like RL than TC's struggle with the Land ..

my 2 cents .. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2002 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Amnion get my vote as one of my favourite alien race in sci-fi. Please dont flame me, guys, but when you've got the terrible races in Star Trek (99% humanoids), it's nice to find an original and truly alien races like the Amnion. Iain Banks' Idirans are a great alien race as well.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2002 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I totally agree Ur-vile the Amnion are the coolest alien life form I've ever encountered--and don't really want 2! Confused
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2002 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL Danlo! How can one alien race interest me so much and terrify me at the same time? That's one thing that SRD does so well - convey the genetic horror of the Amnion so damn well. Maybe in the 3rd chronicles of TC the main character could be an Amnion who bangs its head during heavy g acceleration and finds himself in the Land. Equipped with a vial of mutagen it tries to save the Land by turning the Despiser into an Amnion. Hmmm. Dont know if SRD will like that idea. Razz
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

.. mmm .. interesting plot line Wink .. SRD must possess a dark side .. he is able to 'conjure' up horror so well! The Amnion are like they jumped right out of a horror story .. there description has the power to nauseate (sp?) .. imo .. as does his 'self-mutilation' concept .. among all others.

.. he really is a Master of reaching into the very depths of the reader and unmercifully ripping their guts right out!! .. well speaking from personal experience anyway. *shrug* Wink

He as an author can make me squirm with discomfort .. as he proffers his terrifically twisted ethical conflicts .. to absorb and reconcile ..

.. brilliance is the only word that cuts it!

and yet he always seems to culminate in lifting the reader to some new level of their own humanity having lead them to tap into or discover compassion

.. truly amazing

.. and that is what I admire about SRD the most!! .. yeah .. all that!!
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even the names of their ships ran a chill of terror down my spine Calm Horizons & Tranquil Hegemony! It's, like, listening 2 elevator music while Jason, Freddy, Hellraiser and Lawnmower Man silently surround u....

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah. Calm Horizons and Tranquil Hegemony are such great names. So often, we get ship names that seem to reflect some militaristic virtue. Amnion ship names reflect an alien nature. I study psychology (well, neuropsychology), and find SRD's portrayal into the Amnion to be utterly fascinating. So much mystery, too; were they truly a hive mind or all following some genetic directive.
Can anyone truly imagine what it would be like to be injected with Mutagens? It was that element that made me love SRD's writing so much. When Milos was injected I felt like I was hit by a hammer. Wow. I could feel the terror.
It would a great loss if the Gap series of TCTC was never filmed.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow ur-vile you have introduced some really interesting questions ..

Quote:
were they truly a hive mind or all following some genetic directive.


also I cannot imagine what being injected with mutagen would feel like <having not been injected with them before> but similarly I felt that terror .. that awful horror .. it was there with Morn when she was injected too ..

*shudders*
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Skyweir. I find it an interesting topic myself. I'm of the opinion that to some degree Amnioni have free will. This makes sense, for they could be separated from other Amnioni. I dont think it's some sort of collective consciousness mediated by a process other than pheromones. Donaldson wrote about this is Chaos and Order - well, it was a theory, but a theory that might be true (in terms of the setting he created). Pheromones released by glands within the Amnion could be a sort of chemical message, carried through the air. Remember the strong smell in Amnion facilities? I think that may be because of the messenger chemicals. If they are driven by genetic imperatives, then a hive mind is possible. Pheromones (in insects) are produced by cells in glands. They're constructed by RNA transcription and protein factories in cells known as Ribosomes. IF the Amnion have similiar structures in their cells (they have DNA and RNA - we know that), then perhaps their own unique genetic make up also allows the production of unique pheromones via the process I just mentioned.
So, if the Amnion are directed by genetic imperatives, then an Amnioni behaves due to its own genetic code and that imposed on it by outside influence - pheromones produced by other Amnioni. I'll give an example. Say the Amnion - in a facility - are contacted by humans. Amnion perceiving this may trigger the release of special pheromones. These chemicals may direct other Amnioni into a common purpose - namely, to prepare for trade ('mutual satisfaction of needs') or battle (or whatever). It may just be that any sense of personal interest (curiosity) will be overridden by genetic imperatives of the race. As the Amnion play with their own genetics, it is feasible that they can direct how groups of Amnioni act in distant space - this is my idea of their hive mind. What really interests me is that Amnion have figures invested with authority. What does this mean? I take it that this individual's experiences and genetic makeup makes them an important figure in Amnion society. Perhaps this individual's pheromones are effective, and thus able to direct Amnion as though giving orders.
It may also explain why the Amnion are confused by duplicity. I can imagine that it would be impossible for Amnioni to lie when their pheromones may communicate the state of their thoughts (anger, surprise . . .). As humans don't release complex chemicals like pheromones, they find us alien and are unsure of our standings. Perhaps that is why they want to convert humans into Amnion; this would be psychologically more comforting as the human-amnioni would be understood as it now communicates in a way Amnion understand.
Wow. There's so much to think of. Everyone, what do you think?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

THAT'S COOL Ur-Vile!! I agree w/u on ur pheromone theory. "Mutual satisfaction of needs!" God I love that! Finished the books 5 years ago! I need 2 reread soon! I think their collective conciousness is linked throughout space. Like the Outlanders in Hyperion if one is attacked alone they pull any stops in an attempt 2 save their fellow. Some signal is sent or some understanding is met. The Amnion could have originated as a virus that keeps on assimilating-stealing other lifeforms in order 2 perpetually create itself...

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Danlo! Hey, you mentioned Hyperion. It's on a bookshelf next to me. Haven't got around to reading it yet. Think I might after what you were saying about the hive mind.
Need to change something I said: ribosomes are inside cells and manufacture proteins when RNA goes through them. I didn't mean ribosomes are cells. I know I'm being pedantic, but I'm one of those people keen on biology!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow!! I too am way out of my depth .. I havent even finished the series yet and its been a while since I finished the 3rd book ..

What you say ur-vile makes a whole lot of sense ..

Genetic imperative:

I agree it is more than feasible that the Amnion as a race have contrived a genetic imperative or genetic programme designed to serve their mutual benefit .. as you say they have a lot of experience in this area.
I have absolutely no issue with that proposition.

Quote:
As the Amnion play with their own genetics, it is feasible that they can direct how groups of Amnioni act in distant space


The latter part of this quote I have a problem with ..

Communication:


Quote:
These chemicals may direct other Amnioni into a common purpose - namely, to prepare for trade ('mutual satisfaction of needs') or battle (or whatever).


.. and if they do communicate via chemical messaging as insects do in the form described .. my question is;

*.. how can they communicate in distant space? .. Would'nt they need to be within some reasonable proximity of each other to process the release of chemicals?

*can insects process the issue of pheremones from many miles away from each other?? Is there a limit to how far away they have to be from each other before this mode of communication loses its effectiveness?

*how can the Amnion transmit messages through deep space? Very interesting questions all ..

A social heirarchy:

Quote:
What really interests me is that Amnion have figures invested with authority


Could this also be analogous to the insect world .. there are Queen ants .. arent there? I am not sure but isnt there a hierarchy in the ant world? Bees are the best example I can think of (not knowing anything much of the insect world) of a hierarchial society .. maybe the Amnion are the same .. maybe there are Drone Amnion .. Worker Amnion .. Queen Amnion .. ????

ok I am way out of my depth and need to re-read too .. so please continue this fascinating exploration Ur-vile .. very interested to hear more.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a hive mind could not communicate over vast distances in space. Even on the scale of a planet it would be difficult. One of my favorite books of all time is Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker. He describes hive mind races as being small collectives of organisms with one mind ruling over them all. My idea of the Amnion is like that. Skyweir, you raised a very interesting point - namely, that of insects communicating over large distances. Some species of Moths are able to do that as their pheromonic sensitivity is so high that they can detect faint hints of pheromones in the air. Regardless, complex communication of such (as I suggested) belonging to the Amnion would attenuate over vast distances. For this reason, I do not think Amnion could have a collective drive on the scale of a planet. Perhaps Amnion are used only to small communities (ie, on the scale of Enablement or the Amnion sector on Billingate). There's evidence for this: the fact that Amnioni communicate to Amnioni in distant parts of Enablement via radio.
My statement about directing how other act in deep space is based on thsi idea: If we assume amnion are driven by genetic imperative, then if one was to tinker with it (genetically, of course), you could affect that imperative. Perhaps Amnion away from their homeworld and closer to human space are genetically modified to behave a certain way. HOWEVER, DNA does not contain information for memories or complex behaviours. It only serves to be used in the manufacture of proteins and enzymes. However, the Amnion are alien (fictional, I must keep reminding myself) and may just contain more genetic information. They may have neurons that process pheromones in such a way as to change the way they think or act.
It is true that some species of insects have a hive society (queen, workers, warriors . . .), and SRD alluded to that the Amnion may have a similar society. It's all conjecture. I'll have to think about this.
Oh, and one more thing. I'm not Hashi Lebwohl.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I do not think Amnion could have a collective drive on the scale of a planet. Perhaps Amnion are used only to small communities (ie, on the scale of Enablement or the Amnion sector on Billingate).


    If this is so .. then does this dis-credit the genetic imperative proposition? .. I am just wondering?


    Or rather, that this genetic imperative does allow for autonomous small group determination (for want of a better description???? Rolling Eyes ) (try to work with me here .. <lay person>) ..


ALTERNATIVELY
What if they are not driven by a genetic imperative as much as they are a by a social imperative? Just throwing around ideas ..

It would seem that communicating via the pheremone theory would only be effective within a given proximal (sp/gmr?) range. As you say .. or else there would be no need of a radio.

So the fact that they may possess this genetically programmed ability is a sound theory .. but limited in its use .. so does not seem to support the suggestion of a genetic imperative per se.

If the Amnion are driven by a genetic imperative (which I like the idea of actually Smile ) then doesnt this suggest that they are not capable of autonomous thought/decision making etc

.. unless ofcourse this is catered for within the limits of the genetic programming .. subject to its serving the higher (genetic or social)imperative.

ok .. now I am totally confusing myself .. riddles?? riddles?? riddles?? Confused

but very very interesting!!! kudos Ur-vile for starting a great discussion Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I apologise if I haven't been all the clear, Skyweir. I'll use an analogy to describe what I mean by the Amnion genetic Imperative. Say a species of ants' genetic imperative is to strip all leaves off an Oak tree. They only like oak leaves as it has some chemical, protein, whatever they use. Now, the very first ant hive sends out some immature females which then go out and start up their own nests. Those females would carry with them that genetic imperative to strip oak trees, and thus behave so. They are not in communication with the first nest, but act similarly because their genes say so. Now, let's add complexity to this analogy. Say that when threatened by a rival species of ants, our ants become aggressive in a unique sort of way that makes them successful. If this behaviour has its origins in the genes, then you could say that ALL nests behave in the same way when threatened. Now, some ant nests are located in an environment that is a bit different from what most of our ants exist in. Consequently, they act a bit differently because the different environment triggers different behaviours that are coded into the ant via its genetics. But still, they follow the same genetic code as the species. Thus, you could argue that the imperative for ant behaviour is genetically driven. They have a hive 'mind' because they all obey their genetic heritage.
The Amnion are similar. Because they are coded exactly the same (allowing for not too excessive genetic change), it does not matter whether they are on their homeworld, on Enablement, or on a defensive; their DNA/RNA directs them in a similar fashion. Hence the hive mind. Now, a defensive may just encounter a UMCP warship. It triggers behaviour that is genetically coded. As the genes could not possibly give behaviour for everything (instinct is simple), obviously Amnion have to rely upon decision making - hence the individuals 'invested with decisiveness'. I'm not saying the Amnion have behaviour as simple as ants, just that some important genetic urge (silly phrase) forces them to want to convert life into Amnion. Unique situations may change that (ie, trading with humanity), just as a unique environment may change ants' behaviour a bit from the norm.
So, the genetic imperative statement can function wherever Amnion are. I suppose it's like a simple to complex thing. Genes govern the overarching Amnion aim - mainly, genetic tyranny, but how individuals act determine the details. Marc Vestabule was driven by the imperative to ensure Amnion profit, but could act within bounds to deal with minor things (ie, Nick's treachery).
Hope that helps. I'm off to see my lady, so you all look after yourselves!!!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I'm talking about is instanteneous, or almost instantenous communication at great distances on the organic level--something very difficult for us 2 understand. David Brin tries 2 show us how this works in Heaven's Reach, the 6th book of the Uplift Series, with the non-breathers, The Gaseous ones. The only way they could exist was in a extreme organic environment, hive mentality was the only thing that could keep them 2gether, and a "hierachy" was established according 2 simple access 2 data, like the AI's "Data Core" in Hyperion. It's very difficult 2 describe--it's almost like that feeling u get in the original Alien, where, in the totally dead, totally organic spacecraft u still feel it watching u, it's almost alive--it still is and has always been alive... It's like Organic Chemistry vs. Quantum Physics. But that may b what SRD is showing us: remember @ one point that he talks about the communication crystals--that's the physics--instantaneous communication at incredible distances. It's the old quantum theory that any particle seperated in 2, no matter where they now exist in the Universe share the exact same memory--and are completely aware of each other's location. I know, from what I described w/the Gaseous ones, the hive mentality idea is now starting 2 sound like the Borg--but try 2 look at this from a purely organic POV....Another interesting point is that the Gaseous Ones had 2 travel collectively--they all had 2 leave their home "territory" en masse--I'm talking millions. Maybe the Amnion have 2 do that 2. I had that feeling reading the Gap Series, 4 some reason, like hundereds of ships carrying every Amnion ever created were just around the corner. I kno, SRD never said that--but u can c the fun I'm having! Very Happy Genetic imperative--leads right back 2 a virus....
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2002 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ur-vile,
What you're saying is fascinating. I'm interested what is the connection between 'hive mind' and intelligence. The Amnion were definately intelligent, they were able to surpass human technology in many domains. They were masters in bio-technology, their genetic engineering capabilities surpass my wildest dreams.

For the life forms that we know here on earth, the more primitive the life form, the more it's behavior is driven by genetic imperative than by intelligence. Bacteria are definately driven by genetic imperative. What about bees? Can a single bee be attributed intelligence? And what about rats, dogs, chimps, and finally humans? I find it really hard to figure which human behaviors are genetically driven (except for maybe procreation...)

What I'm trying to say is - can a hive mind exist when the individuals are intelligent, or the other way around, can human-like intelligence be achieved by a hive mind?

-pitch
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