This episode is sponsored by Audible. In the future humanity may meet alien life or even create whole new species, but could we ever work together to forge a greater union? Well we’re back again for another Scifi Sunday here on SFIA and we return to one of our favorite topics, Alien Civilizations and how they might behave, if any exist out there in our galaxy. A frequent part of our approach is to look at examples of alien behavior from science fiction and ask how plausible they are. One of the frequent scenarios in science fiction
is for there to be multiple alien civilizations we are interacting with and sometimes under the same nation or confederation. We see examples with the Republic and Empire of Star Wars, the Confederation of Independent Systems, or Separatists, also from Star Wars, the Federation of Star Trek, and maybe arguably also the species-assimilating Borg of Star Trek, as well as the Planetary Union from the Trek Parody The Orville. We also have the League of Non-Aligned Worlds and Interstellar Alliance of Babylon Five, the Citadel Council of Mass Effect, the Systems Commonwealth of Andromeda, the de facto empire of the Peacekeepers from Farscape, the Alliance of Four Great Races from Stargate, and many, many more, and each represents a different style and are examples of how such species might run an empire of many. Indeed it’s a common trope in the fantasy genre too, in everything from, the Unseelie Accords of Dresden Files urban fantasy, to the Alliance of the Warcraft video game franchise, and countless examples of elves, dwarves, humans and more, trying to get along in so many fantasy settings since Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and various Dungeons and Dragons settings. Now as often as not, when there are many alien species, they each have their own territory, and there’s no mixed rule, outside of maybe some equivalent of the United Nations or particularly cosmopolitan city or space station. And indeed such places definitely add a new flavor to the term cosmopolitan, which traditionally implied either a multi-ethnic city or a person who viewed themselves as more of a citizen of the world than of some place, and in this case, the actual cosmos, or at least a big chunk of the galaxy.
Our focus today though is on the examples where we see joint empires, hence the examples. Incidentally if you actually recognized each of those various empires and settings I rattled off, you definitely get at least a 9 out of 10 on the Geekometer, and if not, don’t worry, we’ll give the necessary context and highlights, though those are all recommended reading, watching, or playing, all great picks to steal away your free time. Now governments come in many forms, so we could be looking at involuntary unions under one despotic race, semi-voluntary unions under a semi-benevolent powerful race, or at an equal and democratic alliance. Even then, it might be nothing more than a loose agreement not to kill each other or an agreement to certain trade rules or a full integration down to aliens immigrating to each other’s homeworlds. What’s more, you could easily have an empire composed of many species at war with another empire who was composed of a single species and many of that species were also members of that first multi-species empire.
Or for that matter multiple empires that were multi-species and shared many member species. Like if the Star Trek Federation went to war with some breakaway human colony, or if the federation split down the middle with colonies of many species breaking to both new factions. For that matter, in the fourth season of the scifi classic Babylon 5, we see humanity in a civil war with Earth controlled by an oppressive Orwellian regime, and numerous colonies and deserter fleet elements are eventually joined by a ton of alien ships to assault Earth’s defenses, and that regime had been receiving massive covert resistance from an alien civilization known as the Shadows, who were themselves a multi-species Empire of those Shadows and their servant species like the Drakh. I also want to emphasize that we’re being pretty loose with the term ‘species’ here because in scifi it usually means the lone species that developed technology on a planet that was their homeworld. But you could have humanity and its Klingon allies at war with uplifted whales also from Earth and related to us. Maybe who’d teamed up with whatever that weird probe was from Star
Trek IV. That’s the time travel film where Kirk, Spock, and company go back to modern Earth to save the whales because some massively powerful probe showed up around future Earth, wrecking everything whilst looking for whales, which had gone extinct. That probe did a lot of damage to Earth, the Federation fleet, and the Klingons, so it would not be surprising if they wanted some payback. In the film it’s implied the damage is accidental or indifferent, but when you think about it, an advanced race sending out a probe capable of doing that much damage really hasn’t got much excuse for being that reckless. Some probe so apparently blind to other types of life is much more likely –
and justifiably I’d say – to be classified as the product of someone violently xenophobic. And that’s a point worth noting too, because we usually assume xenophobia in scifi context means aliens from another planet but it might only be of certain types. Maybe they are okay with whale and dolphin-like critters, but loathe anything with wings. Maybe they especially hate uplifted species from their own homeworld, or they get on fine with aliens but hate their mutant cousins from all their interstellar colonies. Xenophobia isn’t usually noted for being terribly rational, so you might get some interesting perturbations. Of course we also want to be careful not to imply
xenophobia is always and utterly irrational either, and it’s usually rooted out of the fairly reasonable biological fear of the unknown, or stranger danger. Visitors to your territory, in nature, usually only represent a positive if you’re planning to mate with them or eat them, or sometimes both, otherwise they’re competition or a threat. A certain amount of fear of the unknown is probably healthy, and how justified such fears are really depends on the setting and authors in ficiton. We don’t know what the Universe or Multiverse is going to hold for us in terms of aliens; what the average is going to be, so to speak. And we also need to consider the motivations for union. In Star Trek, it’s just general goodwill,
because most advanced species are pretty kind and enlightened, and with enough goodwill and effort, you can find a way to make peace, at least until the Borg showed up, as a sort of cruel mockery of the Federation, having way more member races, as they just assimilated everything into themselves. I always consider ‘mockery’ an appropriate word there because the Borg were introduced to the crew of the Enterprise by the omnipotent trickster entity, known as Q, in order to humble them, because the TNG-era season 1 and 2 crew came off as very cocky and smug, as did the Federation. We’re not going to beat up on the Federation and its ethics today, we’ve done that before, but there was often something worrisome about how the Federation kept growing and how its capital was on Earth and virtually all its spaceships in its starfleet were human-captained and crewed.
This could be an example of the semi-benevolent powerful species I mentioned before, ruling over species that joined semi-voluntarily. And this actually is historically accurate, even if unintentionally so, because many ancient Earth empires were really one powerful nation ruling over conquered nations. Often their military came almost exclusively from that one nation or city-state as a result. Now it is common in science fiction, for humans to be over-represented in the settings, and the in-Universe explanations vary, but by and large it’s because it’s a lot easier and cheaper to put a human in a costume with regular old makeup than to sit around gluing prosthetics to their head for five hours before each shot. This could be justified for a multi-species empire where everyone was genuinely very alien. In such a case, it might be that everybody had plenty of representation in their fleets and on space stations and planets, they just tended to be segregated for life support reasons.
You probably don’t mix crews much because it’s a pain to maintain fifty different atmosphere mixes, temperatures, and lighting. What’s more, the various hierarchical and leadership talents of officers probably don’t translate as well to other species. Fifty-foot tall, hundred-armed mega crabs who show their approval with 160 decibel roars, probably don’t mix well on spaceships designed around human scales. So there’s really not a big problem with
justifying why they might all get along as a unified group of civilizations but not really share ships and planets much. One might wonder why they are unified when they need to be inherently separate but there’s many degrees of unity and it might be just simple mutual defense treaties, standardized currency and trade measures, and sharing your technology and science. None of which require you have many types of aliens trying to share a ship. Problem with this, for science
fiction, is it doesn’t let you have a couple neat alien crewmembers on your mostly human starship, no Spock or Worf as interesting characters. There are get arounds to that, maybe they are the rare exchange officer who agreed to be transplanted into a humanoid body or android, or they remotely control one from back in their own quarters with its specialized life support, and a mind-machine link to that body. Or your show might ignore it and tell the fans outright that you crammed in as many aliens as your special effects budgets allowed and they should just mentally substitute in more aliens where they see random extras. Maybe you could say
everybody walks around in augmented reality and their alien peers have their appearance and words shifted to a human perspective and vice-versa. Indeed you might have space stations where everybody walked around in a spacesuit and their feeds were all altered to show and hear everyone put in their species appearance and languages. Nonetheless we do get a lot of in-Universe explanations including “Humans are Special”, in that we have some particular quality that makes us uniquely suited to be running or forging a multi-species empire. Maybe the best justification I heard for that was in the Masters of Orion Video Games, where, of the various alien factions, humans happened to be the most diplomatic and charismatic, rather than the smartest or kindest or best fighters or whichever, all of which might be handy for forging various types of empires. And it wouldn’t be surprising if an empire was forged by
folks who stood out in some way that helped with such forging, by words or by hammer and anvil. Now the problem here is that while we shouldn’t assume ours was the only pathway to technology, it is pretty reasonable to assume that things which helped us claw our way up Darwin’s Ladder into space are probably not uncommon traits in aliens, especially where they make a lot of sense. I’m not really sure how you build a civilization without some very strong analogies for diplomacy and charisma. Even when we suggest a hive species, be it the Borg or someone more friendly,
the impression every critter in that hive just obeys because it does, as we seem to see in nature, seems only justified by them being very stupid. I keep some hives of honey bees, they’re neat and an impressive example what a hive can do, but they’re dumb, not loyal. They follow a very specific pathway for survival. Same for the cells in our bodies, they’re not obedient and loyal, they don’t have brains. They do their functions because versions of them that didn’t,
tended to cause the organism to die, and thus didn’t propagate whereas versions that did do their functions, benefited the organism, and thus went on to propagate. This is additionally complicated by most of the creatures in the hive being only indirectly involved in procreation. And a hive intelligence composed of stupid members isn’t a civilization, it’s a person, same as you and I are composed of many individual cells and organisms, many of which have none of our DNA. This is generally not what we mean by multi-species empire, and so we will mostly bypass the Borg from Star Trek after this point, the Collective is an entity, it’s constituent members really are not, even if still individually intelligent. By this same reasoning we can remove from our list of multi-species empires, an example like the Wraith from Stargate Atlantis, a vampire species that feeds on humans for their lifeforce energy, because there’s no intertwined civilization going on there, anymore than humans and cows, except that the Wraith seem to take perverse pleasure in terrorizing their prey too.
It's not that either the Borg or Wraith or for that matter, the Reapers from Mass Effect aren’t examples of Multi-Species Empires, they just aren’t what we are usually picturing as one, in a Space Opera context, and one can make a pretty good argument that the Borg are essentially a deconstruction or dark mirror of the classic humans & aliens federations of Star Trek and many other series, though in a different way than the brutal empires we see in Star Trek’s various Mirror Universe episodes. Those are cruel and sadistic, like the Wraith, the Borg are just cold. Now we can’t actually rule out an empire that’s basically founded on the principle that there’s one species or group that totally runs the show and keeps everyone else around for its own depraved delights and hobbies. It seems rather unlikely and we explored it more in our episode Gods & Monsters a few years back, but another Stargate example, the original evil aliens, the Goa’uld, were a race of parasites who lived in human hosts, kept other humans as slaves and worshippers, and had modified some humans into a new species, the Jaffa, who were combination soldier and incubator, though still every bit as much the slaves. It isn’t too hard to imagine a fairly conquest-oriented civilization keeping a lot of slaves or tributary kingdoms. And it also isn’t too hard to imagine them selectively breeding or genetically modifying them to be better at some roles. Genetically perfected caste systems
are common in scifi and I can’t say they’re terribly implausible either. This could obviously mean you found or made or modified a race of critters who were great as soldiers and another that were great as administrators, and that might mean you had modified a single species from one world or a whole bunch from different worlds. Calling two aliens evolved on separate planets ‘of different species’ is probably abusing the word, especially if you’re simultaneously trying to use it to describe a bunch of branches or modifications of an actual species from one world, as aliens from different worlds aren’t even in the same biological kingdom or phylum as each other, less related than mushrooms, dolphins, and Ebola are too each other and us.
Nonetheless, it happens a lot in scifi, and I think for today we really only mean “Multi-Species Empire” where the distance apart is a lot more than, say, human, chimpanzees, and orangutans. Not simply where someone has modified a species a bit or it’s undergone speciation from a few millennia of isolation. Of course in galactic empire terms, especially without FTL, we could be talking civilizations millions of years old. And we could also be looking at uplifted animals, like
dolphins taken and given hands and bigger brains. We see an example of specialized races and uplifting with the Jem’hadar and Vorta in totalitarian Dominion of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who play the military and administration of that empire. The Empire’s founders, called the Founders, have massively modified the genetics of both species – programming in utter loyalty and even drug addiction, and of course great skill at their chosen role. This is one way a multi-species empire can form too, and plausible in my opinion. One of the big problems with a galaxy full of thousands of worlds where intelligent life separately arose, is that somebody had to be first, and with FTL they should have had the galaxy utterly colonized in a few thousand years, as quick as they could reasonably grow and explore. Whereas even a thousand species, big as that is, spread over a billion years of galactic emergence would only mean one every million years popped up. Even without FTL though,
it should only take about a million years, tops, for one civilization to spread over the whole galaxy and claim it. So we don’t really expect rival empires of different alien species popping up simultaneously, except by fragmentation of the original empire. However we wouldn’t expect all these worlds to be devoid of life. They might be,
life might be that rare and need to get seeded on barren worlds. More likely though, if we assumed a thousand worlds per galaxy would eventually produce intelligent life independently by now, your species would be getting to space about the same time a hundred other planets were getting to various levels of fairly smart animal, running some spectrum from dinosaurs up to dolphins or maybe even a chimp or neanderthal. The galaxy is yours, you own an empire of a trillion worlds, it’s not hard to imagine you deciding to keep those critters around as a curiosity. To you a single planet in your galaxy is to us what a single small zoo the size of a football field is.
With these primitive aliens, maybe they start getting smart on their own and you uplift some to help manage and police things, so you need not bother personally, they can share the load, and the blame. This is essentially the origin story of the Peacekeepers from Farscape, they were uplifted and organized by a species known as the Eidolons who were pacifists and so the group got their name unironically originally, but eventually the Eidolons disappeared from the scene and the Peacekeeper organization slowly turned into something much more violent and authoritarian. It is not too hard to imagine creating specialized agents to handle things for you, and while we might frown on that ourselves, aliens might not. More to the point, we wouldn’t feel too bad about creating artificial intelligence to perform such roles, and it’s very debatable if making a biological organism from scratch is any different than that. It also is hardly implausible
a future galaxy is one ruled and populated by artificial intelligence, and those could come in just as many species, mutation happens. Something to keep in mind for colonizing a galaxy. You’re the Firstborn species of a newly founded galactic empire, and all over the galaxy, folks are speciating while at the same time you’re uplifting your own pets, smart cats, smart dogs, and creating artificial intelligence. Someone’s probably tried uplifting a few of these alien species too. Time is creeping on, a million years, two, three, even left alone a couple of them are getting smart now, but after a few million years, your own colonies a hundred light years away are no closer to you in appearance and behavior, and honestly probably genetics, than those uplifted pets you had. So you might spawn a multi-species empire that way.
Specialized races certainly seems plausible, but I’d be more dubious about them being natural. It is easy to imagine we might meet 10 or 20 other species and find each of us was just better at some major task than the others. Our genius or virtuoso at some area is their average citizen. So the nominal 10 or 20 departments or key organizations of the empire are basically each run by that species, your Klingon soldiers, your Vulcan scientists, and so on. And again this is plausible enough as it would seem likely that getting yourself from smart animal to technological civilization probably relies on, to borrow a term from RPGs, bumping up your stats a lot. In D&D, that would be Intelligence, Wisdom,
and Charisma traditionally, for non-physical ones, and White Wolf had Charisma, Intelligence, Wits, Perception, Manipulation, and Appearance. Lots of other systems had other stats and scales. There are a lot of traits that are handy to have in our civilization, and which would seem to be necessary for that civilization or make it much easier for it to exist and improve anyway. Those are numerous and they come in many flavors, and one might imagine each civilization having, say, ten relevant stats each with a score of 1 to 10, we’ll just call them math, logic, judgment, negotiation, administration, leadership, agreeableness, aggressiveness, creativity, and patience – those were pretty arbitrarily selected by the way. So everybody has a 1 to 10 in each and presumably starts fairly low and evolution slowly adds points to various groups. You could have a score of anywhere from 0-100 as an individual and as a species average. Say a score of 50 is enough to start making you look more than just an animal and a score of 60 gets you in the technological avalanche to modern times. Well some species have
Captain Average stats, like about a 6 in everything – this is often humans in scifi – and others might have a lot more 1s and 10s. And it might be that you just can’t get into space until one or two of those stats specifically hits an 8, like logic, you just can’t get rockets working without being good at it. So maybe evolution got all your other stats up to 9s and 10s before that finally happened and you get on the galactic stage as near supermen when you do – this is also often implied with humans in scifi. Or maybe you got found, you never need to know rockets because another species who did came across you and was impressed with your other stats. The Krogan in Mass Effect come close to this, they come from a planet that’s basically
a suburb of hell so they are tough as nails, breed and grow fast, and are very good at war. They are decent with technology, enough to have gotten themselves into several nuclear wars, and they get uplifted by another race, the tech-savvy Salarians, to help fight their battles. Needless to say, if you can modify your species’ stats, genetically or cybernetically, this somewhat cuts into any argument for species caste systems Now, this brings up another issue with Multi-species empires, and that’s birth rates.
The Krogan made a great military ally because they bred like rabbits and liked fighting, but that also makes them bad peacetime neighbors. They could have a thousand kids a year, each, who all needed a place to live and didn’t mind taking someone else’s. The answer the Salarians came up with was basically to give them a virus that wrecked their fertility. The morality of that is at best a ‘lesser of two horrendous evils’,
and I always liked Mass Effect for not giving easy moral outs to the players and characters, like a lot of scifi does. In any event, it is a likely issue in multi-species empires. Now on the one hand, nature has two basic approaches to reproduction: quantity and quality; which is to say that you ensure your species survives by either having tons of offspring or by putting tons of effort into a small number. Now this is actually a false dichotomy, you could have a species that had a ton of children and each with a high survival rate but that usually isn’t necessary given how fast a species can double and fill up an environment compared to how fast it can mutate. Generally speaking we would expect single births or smaller and less frequent litters
to be more common with intelligent species though there’s a lot of assumptions in there about how intelligence forms biologically that might have a big terrestrial bias. There really is no ironclad rule saying an organism can’t hatch from an egg able to take care of itself and still grow to be human intelligent and also still want to have social relationships. Even if that is true though, that species with technology usually come from low birth rate species, there is still likely to be a huge difference in growth rates, by both technology and culture. Consider, a civilization whose numbers increased by 1% a year – about what Earth’s does
nowadays – versus 2%, then a thousand years from now, both starting with the population we have now, there’s 200 trillion of that first civilization, 20,000 times as many of them, and maybe 20,000 colonized worlds in their empire, and the second civilization actually has 4 quintillion people and more like 400 million worlds. Compound interest is an impressive thing. Now imagine a planet just like ours came on the scene at that point, a thousand years later, 3000 AD, when Civilization A controls 20,000 worlds and B has 400 Million. Let’s say they have a 3% growth-rate per year, well, come the year 4000 AD, they, Civilization C, go from one lone planet to 7 trillion of them, probably about every reasonably terraformable rock in this galaxy. Civilization A, at 20,000 worlds in 3000 AD is now up to 400 million in the year 4000 AD. As big as B was in 3000 AD, but now dwarfed by civilization C, when a thousand years back they had an empire of 20,000 worlds and C only had 1. Civilization B, at 400 Million in 3000AD,
come 4000 AD, is up to 160 Quadrillion, which represents a fair chunk of the worlds in a Supercluster of galaxies, though more realistically would represent something like 10-12 million Kardashev 2 solar systems, especially without FTL, Faster Than Light Travel, and be in a rough sphere a couple thousand light years wide, a tiny little dot in the galaxy still. Come the year 5000 AD, Civilization C will have caught up to them too. Note that in all of these cases they have easily populated a whole galaxy in a handful of millenia, not even a millionth of the time this galaxy has been around. Also note that human population growth rates, tiny compared to things like cats or dogs, let alone egg layers, is currently 1.1% and has been as high as 3% and higher. This generally is why we tend to think the first species on the galactic stage gets to control that stage, either by being the only people on it or just being more numerous by far. Now you can actively seek to curb or accelerate
growth, and high-tech civilizations can use fertility meds, devote more time to child-rearing than basic survival, even have extended lifespans and cloning technology, or flat out duplication for post-humans. However, it is still very easy to imagine lots of tension between civilizations based on how quickly they are claiming new worlds and filling them up, or immigrating to other species’ worlds inside this galactic empire. Indeed we could imagine terrorist style groups trying to emulate Thanos inside such empires to either curb the growth of one very fertile species or to clear room for them. It is not hard to imagine lots of conflict and strife in such cases. To keep up the MCU references, they may have a vested interest in curbing technological growth too, unless you hatch some Tiamat-style Celestial from your world in the form of a Technological Singularity, that takes over the whole galaxy. Another strategy, especially for high-tech and early arrivers on the scene, is not to worry about your species at all. Obviously there is
an implication in a multi-species empire of the more friendly kinds we see in science fiction, that species shouldn’t matter and that one focuses on ideals, or more selfishly maybe, one’s self. If you’re potentially immortal through your own technology, well exponential cumulative growth works on stock markets and ownership as well as it does for breeding. Right now if humanity divided up the whole galaxy to each living person, we would each get something like 50 stars a piece.
If we wrote that up as a big old contract, and issued deeds to those stars to everyone, then by the end of the year, I’d imagine at least half the population would have sold theirs, and probably for less than a thousand bucks a piece, when in the long term each is considerably more valuable than our entire current planetary economy. Mind you, selling those might be smart, and taking the money and investing it in something more short term or in the company that builds colony ships or such. Imagine we also found life extension technology soon too and folks could realistically expect to live a few million years. A million years from now you might have a couple billion folks who kept their system deeds, or most of them, and even bought more of them, and who had a vested interest in making sure those remained valid. They might be people still, they might be some giant computer intelligence or super brain, but they’ve got that deed and everything that grew up on it. And all those fleets and banks and marketing firms and other assets to help them retain power.
They might easily be in charge of such a multi-species empire a billion years down the road and not really care which of those species were direct descendants, mutant cousins, uplifted cats or dogs, or alien tentacle monsters from some system ten thousand light years from their homeworld. All of these things are alien to what you used to be or are now, and far more than any star trek alien of the week with a couple bumps or spots on their forehead. Aliens so alien in appearance or motive that the very idea of living and working with them might be unimaginable or disgusting, while others might be alliances of convenience or bonds as close as humans have with cats, dogs, and horses. And the thing to keep in mind is, even in a real universe where FTL travel and communication is probably not in the cards, you could have large regions of space, some local mega-swarm of a thousand solar systems all composed of thinly overlapping sea, of space habitats numbering in the quadrillions, home to a trillion, trillion people, where you had constant waves of aliens immigrating in and out of parts of that swarm or from neighboring regions, raising thousands of giant multi-species empires lasting decades or millenia, all inside a relatively tiny piece of the galaxy no bigger to that galaxy than a small village is to Earth. And yet in that little village might be that
trillion, trillion people, which could easily allow a trillion ‘species’ of a trillion people each. Inside a colonized galaxy there is no reason folks might not still migrate around, and find themselves meeting new and strange people and hoping to carve out a home, peacefully or by force, and forming new nations or alliances. Many might find themselves spending centuries on exodus and arriving at places that had more alien-ish species than all of modern scifi has produced combined, living around just one star, each of those millions of species having millions of factions composed of millions of people, and again, just around one star.
So on first approximation we tend to think Multi-species empires would be rare things, but as we often note on this show, aliens may be rare now, but wait a million years and they’ll be all over the galaxy, even if they maybe all had a connection back to Earth or to some scientist from Earth that created them in a lab or uplifted them on a primitive world. Such being the case, it seems almost inevitable that you would have multi-species empires as a result, assuming the term even means anything by then. And given the sheer quantities involved, across a whole galaxy, we would expect them to come in virtually every flavor, from military conquests to peaceful alliances, close sharing of worlds, to an agreement to mind each other’s space, totalitarian expansionists to pacifist reclusive, and a million, billion, trillion shades in between. As always, one of the few things we can say about the future with much certainty, is that, if we live to see it, it should be a pretty interesting place, since there will be so much of it… and it should be full of many interesting peoples. So we have a few announcements to get to along with our schedule but first it is time for the Audible Audiobook of the Month and keeping with today’s theme I wanted to recommend the awesome ongoing space opera series Dread Empire’s Fall by Walter Jon Williams, the tale of humanity and many other species kept under the thumb of an oppressive empire that’s finally started falling apart after untold millennia and the wars and alliance that break out as that empire collapses.
I’d encountered Dread Empire’s Fall by coincidence, having been grabbing an audiobook from Glen Cook’s excellent Dread Empire series when I saw the similar series title and saw they were narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, one of my favorite audiobook narrators, so I thought I’d give it a try. It didn’t take me long to realize that Walter Jon Williams was an emerging space opera author to rival greats like David Weber, John Ringo, Timothy Zahn, and Micheal Stackpole. Dread Empire’s Fall is everything I love about Space Opera and military scifi, and William’s take on why a ruthless ancient civilization is finally falling is inventive and novel, so I’m glad to award the first novel in the series, Praxis, our Audible Audiobook of the Month. So we mentioned an awful lots of books and authors there and even more throughout the episode and one of the things I love about Audible is just how comprehensive their collection of audiobooks is, but also how they have encouraged so many authors to take their work and make it available as an audiobook too. But they don’t just have audiobooks, including many excellent podcasts, such as Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur. It also has Reels of Justice, the podcast show where movies are brought before a jury to be tried, and I recently was on for another appearance to serve as the Defense for the 2021 version of Frank Herbert’s classic Dune.
That’s just some of the great content in the Audible Plus Catalog, which also has sleep & meditation tracks available, as well as guided fitness programs for getting into shape for the spring, and Audible Original’s like Impact Winter, from the folks who brought you Pacific Rim and the Walking Dead. Audible has got literally centuries worth of content for you to pick from to keep you entertained while commuting or working out, including about 500 hours of this show now, and the whole Audible Plus Catalog full of free books and other content, comes as a bonus when you join Audible, in addition to your usual 1 free audiobook each month and big member discounts on additional ones, and as always, new members can try Audible for free for the first month, just go to Audible.com/isaac, or text isaac to 500-500. So down the years a lot of folks have generously supported this show on Patreon but for one reason or another many have decided to leave that platform and been requesting I open up an additional option, so SFIA will also now be on Subscribestar, and I will link that in the episode description. We are remaining on Patreon too and you can also help fund the channel by joining Nebula, or donating via paypal or even snail mail, or by clicking on our sponsors, and as always we’re grateful for everyone’s continued support especially in rough economic times. Also again, I recently re-appeared on the Reels of Justice podcast to look at the Dune 2021 film and as usual they were a ton of fun to work with, make sure to check that episode out.
Speaking of episodes, next week we’ll be asking what would happen if Earth lost the sun and became a rogue planet? After that we’ll ask how people travel around planets once they settle there, be it hang gliding through the clouds of Venus or darting between shadowy craters on sun-roasted Mercury. Then we’ll take a look at the concept of a Technological Singularity, an artificial intelligence of stunning capability appearing seemingly overnight, and ask if that outcome is inevitable. And Two Sunday’s from now we’ll have our Monthly Livestream Q&A on April 24th, 4 pm Eastern Time. Now if you want alerts when those and other episodes come out, make sure to subscribe to the Channel and hit the notifications bell, and if you enjoyed this episode, please hit the like button, share it with others, and leave a comment below. You can also join in the conversation on any of our social media forums, find our audio-only versions of the show, or donate to support future episodes, and all those options and more are listed in the links in the episode description.
Until next time, thanks for watching, and have a great week!