Man After Man

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Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future (1990, ISBN 0-312-03560-8) is a speculative book written by Scottish geologist Dougal Dixon and illustrated by Philip Hood. The theme of the book is a hypothetical exploration of the possibilities of the future human evolution.

Unlike his previous two books, his story context focuses on individuals rather than entire species, even giving them human names.

According to Dixon, he did not want to be involved in the book to begin with, and his original idea involved humans of the far future returning to the Earth featured in After Man and ravaging the ecosystem as they did on Earth.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The book begins with the impact of genetic engineering and ecological damage caused by humans. Modern humans manipulate human biological material to create new genetically-altered species of humanoid beings. The early forms are intended as workers to be utilised by conventional humans, used as situationally adapted labour in the space colonization and exploration program. One species - the vacuumorph - has been engineered for life in the vacuum of space. Its skin and eyes carry shields of skin to keep its body stable even without pressure. There are aquamorphs and aquatics, marine humans with gills instead of lungs. Civilization eventually collapses, with a few or some selected humans escaping to colonize space. The humans who manufactured the early genetically manipulated creatures, develop to become The Hitek, almost totally dependent on cybernetic technology, augmenting and keeping their bodies alive way past their natural lifespans. They eventually face extinction, their situation is degenerative as a result of the defeat of natural selection coupled with natural environmental phenomena. They now need the cybernetic augmentation just to overcome their genetic deficiency. The Hitek pursue genetically engineered biological alternatives to their cybernetic dependency, and also build genetically altered humans to sustainably occupy niches in the ecologically recovering world: Genetically-altered humans include a temperate woodland species, a prairie species, a jungle species, and a tundra-dwelling species. The Hiteks artificially evolve into a species known as Tics, living contemporarily with the niche dwellers emplaced by their forebears. The Tics, as the Hiteks did before them, continue to artificially manufacture food products to sustain themselves, relying on solar and marine energy harvesting to fuel their processing facilities. A magnetic reversal results in the failure of the navigation, communication and energy harvesting technology upon which the Tics existence relies. Meanwhile, another subspecies of humans who did not come to rely on artificial life extending technology develops: The Handlers (later speech corruption making the name Andlas) adapt from a mixture of non technological peoples squatting and fighting one another for survival in the squalid ruins of the pre-decline cities, and technologically capable handymen for the Hiteks. They go back to a more sustainable existence, becoming ecologically sound subsistence farmers. Natural selection has helped them to recover from the ecological damage and become stronger again. They too are forced into extinction by the magnetic reversal and its environmental impact upon their crops, animal husbandry and hunting.

Some three hundred years after the Vacuumorph and the Aquamorph, the early genetic engineering products, the genetically-altered niche adapted humans survive. They must face a new phenomenon, but they are well prepared; they can no longer be genetically tweaked in a lab, they begin to evolve through natural selection. Many new forms result from natural selection. Socials, colonial humans with a single reproductive parent, Fishers, goblin-like fishing humans, Slothmen, megatherium-like humans, Spiketooths, smilodon-like humans, hibernating adaptations and even parasitic humans developed through natural changes. The stronger develop to prey upon the weaker, both within and without their own subspecies. Although from a common ancestor, they no longer recognise one another as anything other than a potential enemy or food. Some species develop symbiotic, later some parasitic, cross species dependencies.

After five million years of uninterrupted evolution, the descendants of modern man that retreated into space return. Then the world changed dramatically, Earth was xenoformed and covered in vast alien cities. The humans and other life forms in this new Earth must breathe air with low oxygen content. Thus the alien invaders use cyborg-technology to fuse the bodies of the few human species they find useful on the planet with air tanks and respiration systems. Genetic modification also returned, giant building humans and tiny connection humans were bred to aid city construction. Genetically manipulated antelope-like creatures, their origin in the second original phase of Human re-engineering, serve as mounts for the invaders. The descendants of the Tundra Dwellers were re-engineered to be farmed like pigs or cattle. As with all civilization, this new era of man fell apart once again.

Eventually the spacefaring humans left, the Earth left in ruins once again. With barely any oxygen left in the Earth's atmosphere, all terrestrial life on the planet perished. At the bottom of the world's oceans, in the oases that were the underwater hot springs, life continues. Piscanthropus profundus, a deep-sea descendant of the now-extinct aquatic species, from the second original phase of Human re-engineering, continues to evolve. It is implied that Piscanthropus profundus would eventually recolonize Earth's surface, showing a curiosity of what lies above the water.

Human species included[edit]

200 years hence[edit]

  • Vacuumorph, Homo caelestis, an exoskeletal human genetically modified to live only in space. These creatures were not so much bred as built. The attributes that could not be created were grafted onto the creatures; they could not reproduce independently.
  • Aquamorph, Homo aquaticus, a frog-like human. They have gills on the chest, thick blubber layers and paddle-like legs and feet.

300 years hence[edit]

  • Aquatic, Piscanthropus submarinus, manatee-like humans with gills instead of lungs. The hind legs are fused together to form a fluke, but the hands and arms are still human like, the only engineered sentient species with the exception of the Vacuumorphs and the Aquamorphs. It later evolves to utilise an algal based gelatinous membraned saltwater suit, containing a saltwater pocket of its natural environment, in order to move itself onto the dry land to forage as the ocean's food supplies are diminished.
  • Hitek, Homo sapiens machinadiumentum, a Homo sapiens subspecies that is the result of inbreeding and medical technologies that allow people with deformities and other medical problems to survive and reproduce. Homo sapiens evolved into this sub-species of its own that is now almost totally dependent on cybernetic technology to survive.

500 years hence[edit]

  • Tundra-Dwellers, Homo glacis fabricatus, yeti-like humans that fill the ecological niches of musk oxen and caribou. Migratory creatures with thick rolls of blubber with ice-hooks on their hind feet. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.
  • Plains-Dwellers, Homo campis fabricatus, troll-like humans that fill the roles of gazelles, water buffalos and wildebeests. These humans with modified appendages for scything grass. Capable of growing new teeth through their life and have pot bellies filled with specially-engineered bacteria for digesting grass. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.
  • Tropical Forest-Dwellers, Homo silvis fabricatus, orangutan-like humans that fill the roles of sloths, monkeys, and non-human apes. Long arms with thick claws allow these creature to move faster through the Trees than across the ground. Possess thick jaws for cracking nuts and are capable of reproducing fertile offspring.
  • Temperate Woodland-Dwellers, Homo virgultis fabricatus, australopithecine-like humans designed to fill the roles of deer, bears and wolves. Walk on all fours because the shape of the big toes prevent bipedal locomotion. Omnivorous creatures who are designed to be immune to most natural poisons. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.

1,000 years hence[edit]

  • Tic, Homo sapiens accessiomembrum, the Hitek eventually found the process of diagnosing newborn babies, then creating a mechanical cradle impractical, eventually designed a human subspecies that required a biological cradle/cocoon. However, the fingers are used primarily for touching. The shape of, and number of limbs, on these bodies is often dependent on fashion.

2,000 years hence[edit]

Homo sapiens has mysteriously disappeared. Most have gone extinct due to a magnetic reversal.

5,000 years hence[edit]

  • Memory People, Homo mensproavodorum, a descendant of the Temperate Woodland-Dweller that can inherit memories from their parents and possess a form of ancestral memory. They were not engineered sentient but re-evolved intelligence and can make rudimentary structures.
  • Migrant, a migratory descendant of the Plains-dweller.
  • Tropical Tree-Dweller, a strictly arboreal descendant of the Tropical Forest-Dweller with the ability to hang upside down.

10,000 years hence[edit]

  • Symbiont Carrier, Baiulus moderatorum, a descendant of Tundra-Dwellers with longer fur and low intelligence.
  • Hunter Symbiont, Moderator baiuli, an orang pendek-like descendant of Temperate Woodland-Dwellers with a symbiotic relationship with the Symbiont Carrier by being insulated with its partner's long fur and can direct them with a telepathic ability.
  • Hibernator, Homo dormitor, a species of human (descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller) that hibernates during the ice age winter. These creatures can live for hundreds of years although they spend much of that time asleep. Was not engineered sentient but re-evolved intelligence and can make rudimentary structures.
  • Cave-Dweller, Speluncanthropus, a subterranean species, descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller, that lives in caves and tunnels and only comes to the surface at night to hunt. Eyesight is atrophied but presumably their hearing is acute.

50,000 years hence[edit]

  • Islander, Homo nanus, a species of diminutive humans descended from Temperate Woodland-Dwellers that became isolated. They inhabit the tropical, volcanic islands and feed almost exclusively on meat and other high protein sources.
  • Water-Seeker, Homo vates, a chimp-like species descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller. Due to climatic extremes, it has evolved the ability to detect water over long distances.
  • Communal Plains-Dweller, Alvearanthropus desertus, a very sociable descendant of a group of Migrants that retreated into the semi-desert areas

500,000 years hence[edit]

  • Social, colonial, goblin-like humans descended from the Communal Plains-Dwellers. They have thick blades on their hands for fighting. Only one female breeds at any one time.
  • Boat People, descended from the Memory People that have black fur use their ancestral memories to make wooden boats that look almost like H. sapiens built them.

1,000,000 years hence[edit]

  • Aquatics can now (for a temporary time) crawl on beaches.
  • The tropical tree dwellers have spread into the temperate and coniferous forests.
  • The symbionts are more aggressive.

2,000,000 years hence[edit]

  • Hiver, a taller descendant of the Social, with a shared mind, and builds hive-like structures. It is mainly herbivorous.
  • Parasite, Nananthropus parasiticus, a small, Sivapithecus-like descendant of the Islander that lives as a parasite by sucking the blood of the parasite host.
  • Host, Penarius pinguis, a blubbery-looking, ogre-like, hairless descendant of the Tundra-Dwellers that migrated south. It is victimized by Parasites, the parasitic humans.
  • Travellers, descendants of the Boat People.
  • Traveller's Attacker, a descendant of the Cave-Dweller that hunts Travellers.
  • Planter, descended from the Hibernator.
  • Seeker, descended from the Water-Seeker. Its ears and arms are quite useless and it now lacks eyes and legs. It now resembles a Homo sapiens baby in a way. Hivers use Seekers as guides to find good locations to build hives.

3,000,000 years hence[edit]

  • Antman, Formifossor angustus, a chimpanzee-like human descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller. They have blade-like nails to rip open Ant hills and eyes and nostrils that can be closed. They are also immune to the formic acid in the Ants' stings, depositing it in their tissue thus making them unpalatable to predators.
  • Spiketooth, Acudens ferox, a Smilodon-like human descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller that evolved to specifically hunt large species such as the Slothmen.
  • Slothman, Giganthropus arbrofagus, humans descended from Tundra-Dwellers that imitate the extinct Megatherium. So heavy they cannot stand upright and have thick claws to pull down branches. Evolved in a predator free environment and have no natural means of defense.
  • Fish-Eater, Piscator longidigitus, a goblin-like species (descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller) that hunts fish.It Inhabits mountain rivers and lakes where it swims after fish with its long claws like a Baryonyx.
  • Tree-Dweller, Arbranthropus lentus, an arboreal sloth-like descendant of the Tropical Tree-Dweller.
  • Desert-Runner, Harenanthropus longipis, a small, swift-footed, desert-dwelling, gremlin-like descendant of the Temperate Woodland-Dweller, that by covergent evolution has evolved the shape that was designed into the plains dwellers 3,000,000 years before.

5,000,000 years hence[edit]

  • Engineered Pack Animal: After the humans that left for the stars returned to the Earth, they xenoformed it and engineered the Pack Animal to put pre-made building parts together.
  • Engineered Food Creature: Engineered by the star travelers, engineered the Host into "mounds of fat and flesh, fed by chemical nutrients." Small machines remove chunks of meat, tissue and body fat while the Food Creature is still alive.
  • Engineered Worker: Lilliputian creature engineered from the Temperate Woodland-Dwellers work small machinery.
  • Piscanthropus profundus, a species of Aquatic that lives in the dark depths of the ocean. Is sensitive to the infra-red spectrum and moves very sluggishly in order to conserve energy in such a poor habitat. It is implied that they will re-colonize the surface after the star travelers left the Earth's surface barren.
  • Hunter, a descendant of the Desert-Runner.

Human sub-species included[edit]

The creatures below are all the same species as they all appear to be capable of interbreeding provided that the external barriers between them were removed. The barriers between the three species below appears to be cultural e.g., the Andlas, Tic and Hitek all view each other with distance and isolate themselves from each other. Note that the distinction between a species and a subspecies is that two sub-species would merge back into a single unified population if given the chance while two species would not. It has nothing to do with 'how different' the different groups appear to be to the observer.

  • Man, Homo sapiens sapiens, technically modern humans. After the schism of mankind that separated the human populations, thus allowing them to evolve along their own paths, these "Andlas" were the only ones to remain true to the ancestral breeding stock. In the future, man has several different names, such as "squatties" living in flooding cities, "handlers" of the Hitek, farmers and fishermen and "Andlas".
  • Hitek, Homo sapiens machinadiumentum, the result of inbreeding and medical technologies that allow people with deformities and other medical problems to survive and reproduce. Homo sapiens evolved into this sub-species of its own that is now almost totally dependent on cybernetic technology to survive.
  • Tic, Homo sapiens accessiomembrum, the Hitek found the process of diagnosing newborn babies, then creating a mechanical cradle impractical, and eventually designed a human subspecies that required a biological cradle/cocoon. However, the fingers are used primarily for touching. The shape of, and number of limbs, on these bodies is often dependent on fashion.
  • Unknown human descendant. In 5 million years, humans return to earth and build cities once again. They are never seen outside without protective suits, mounted on antelope-like humans. Therefore, it is unknown what they look like inside. They are, however, quite small by comparison to their 'cousins' and presumably their ancestors, too.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Of After Man, The New Dinosaurs and Greenworld: an interview with Dougal Dixon, By Darren Naish, April 4, 2014 Scientific American Blog Network

External links[edit]