This fiction is shared for the community, with Wormulon and Luc as admins.
The order Cetacea has existed for 50 million years, a long lineage of sentient organisms which had been navigating the oceans for long enough for continents to change and entire galactic civilisations to rise, fall and be forgotten.
Species physiology Edit
It is unknown when in the last 50 million years when the members of Order Cetacea evolved sentience, as they may have done separately at different times. It wasn't until the 22nd century that cetaceans were regarded as sentient by mainstream science. Although humans had known they were capable of abstract reasoning, language and consciousness since the 20th century, humanity attempted to uplift the cetacean species to human-type understanding, which instead was an invasion of the Cetacean's contemplative culture. While this allowed cetaceans to use technology, they were already sentient in their own way.
In terms of mass, size and computational efficiency, the brains are dolphins are comparable to of average "Earther" humans. Adult dolphin brains can weigh as much as 250 grams more than Homo sapiens, although mass alone doesn't give an accurate measure. Structurally, human brains could hardly better than they are in terms of evolution; any bigger, the neocortex, sensory and motor connections would slow down (but given the human ability of creativity and critical knowledge making, technology and language surpasses these organic limitations). In Cetaceans, the structure is different, dolphin brains are much quicker to react to sensory input. Thus the brains of various Cetacean species and humans and posthumans vary somewhat in capabilities. The neurons of baseline Cetacea have about the same sentience quotient as an unmodified Homo sapiens, in terms of the ratio between information processing efficiency and mass.
The cognitive faculties and minds of Cetaceans cannot be directly compared to human brains in any sense of hierarchy. Cetaceans evolved under different selective pressures and despite coming from the same planet, their complex brains having evolved to model, communicate and solve problems in a non-anthropic environment.
Perception, psychology and language
The reality to dolphins and whales was alien to that of human perception, and so of course, meanings and being. Dolphins, could reason and communicate by manipulating sonic imagery, each audio frequency have particular quale attached (perhaps best equated to colours). Their brains have advanced dopplar sense. The images of a shark could be created in the water through sounds, this underlying structure was often missed even as humans appreciated the sounds. Despite differences, the cetaceans had a sense of aesthetics, building three dimensional sculptures out of sound. But because their brains could abstract ideas, the sculptures could mechanically stimulate bio-luminescent Noctiluca miliaris bacteria in the water, building sculptures out of light.
Dolphins and porpoises could see through each other's flesh into the cavities between bones. It is likely the cetaceans have little concept or desire to hide things from other, psychologically.
For the whales, whale-song changed yearly and was used to communicate and map the ocean for thousands of miles and contained the information of volumes of books. Surging water currents created a multitude of sounds often emanating from the same source, thus to whales, an object or meaning can have several counter-factual differences. The songs of Whales in particular, touched a cord of objective beauty, as it was appreciated as an artform by various other species in the Milky Way.
Thus, human and cetacean mentality was different. Human brains developed the ability to use creativity and criticism a lot faster, building complex languages and tools to solve problems. Tool use in cetacea on the other hand, was rare. Some things both species shared, was cooperation but also violence.
History with humans Edit
The cetacean nation occupied all the world's oceans for a 50 million year dawn, as countless songs of the whales crossed the depths, each one different for there was nothing to write on, just the endless recursion of information, meanings almost incomprehensible to humans. Whether the cetacean nation had encountered extraterrestrials in that time, is either unknown or not shared with outsiders.
18th to 20th, 21st century Edit
Strange, slow shadows started to appear in numbers on the surface, manned by humans. Cetaceans had been hunted before, but the industrialisation of their slaughter would begin. The great networks of communication, some thousands of kilometres long shrunk as the machines and sonar of man's purposes encroached on the cetacean nation. It was as if some intelligence had entered the solar system, utterly alien, had begun to use it for its purpose. But man was aware, and thus, immoral. The seas were polluted, the ocean currents changed. The prey suffocated, the sonar confused whole pods of cetacean onto land, and the ecosystems were altered. Dolphins were put to military uses.
But conservation efforts did exist, as well as attempts to study dolphin intelligence and inter-species communication. One researcher, a scientist and psychonaut, Dr. John C. Lilly attempted computer-synthesised language with dolphins, and believed that dolphin language was a lot faster than that of human language, meaning that during translation it required slowing down. He found them compassionate creatures and hoped for a day when humans and dolphins could find a common language within a communications lab he designed. Other researchers related to Lilly felt as though their spine was being zapped by sound frequencies on purpose.
Lilly's research was but a small chapter however. But other researchers found examples of intelligent behaviour found in humans. Eventually, dolphins were labelled as non-human persons.
22nd to 29th century Edit
Cetacean sentience continued to be underestimated well into the 22nd century, when humanity attempted to 'uplift' the Cetaceans along with many other animals, like cephalods, birds, elephants, primates and dogs. Known to the Cetaceans as the Enculturation, human thought and culture encroached like an alien dimension, supplanting many aspects of ancient culture. Humans only learned of their mistake later, with human culture effected only very little by Cetacean thought. As this was a period of interstellar forays, once the cetaceans had enough technology to reach the stars, they created their own civilisation independent of humankind, presiding over pelagic worlds and megastructures with the goal of recapturing what was lost for so many centuries. Some of the ways of life diverged quite far from human design, with the he whales of some worlds engineering themselves into truly epic proportions capable of maintaining their own symbiotic ecosystems and moving through the harsh vacuum of interstellar space.
Politically, cetaceans keep themselves to themselves, but prove to be a compassionate on many occasions, making them good civilisation members. Though packs of dolphin mercenaries throughout the galaxy were not unheard of. Whale song and sonic sculptures are highly regarded across the gigaquadrant. On many Cetecean worlds, humans and extraterrestrials to Earth are not off-limits, with cetaceans living on human worlds and vise versa; however the cetacean civilisation remains highly independent and has no human authority.
Later in his life, Lilly claimed to have seen a vision of the far future transmitted by alien intelligence, of a world where machine-based intelligences had taken over the Earth, intolerant to all warm and wet carbon based life. Enslaving human minds into a hell-like negative state and detaching the Earth from its orbit to be transported to where all other machine-based intelligences would congregate. By the 29th century, immense megastructure-sized artificial and emergent intelligences had made the scene in the Milky Way, absorbing many other cybernetic civilisations, while the rest of the Milky Way was watched with envious eyes. Would the organic races, alien, human and cetacean put aside their differences?
Cetacean civilisation Edit
Culture and beliefs Edit
The uplifted Cetacea have numerous ancient cultures, characteristic of each species and pod, with unique a frequency channel and linguistic rules. None-the-less, Cetacean cultures are united by common traits that evolved from millions of years of ocean-going life. The Cetacean communities were and still are all deeply contemplative, despite the forced interpenetration of the human mindspace in the 22nd century. Both whales and dolphins build environments tranquil to them that facilitate their plaintive songs and deep meditations on abstractions quite orthogonal to those commonly explored by terrestrial xenosentients like man. That being said, the Cetacean constructs have a cult following.
The Dolphin and Porpoise species are typically described as more "chatty" than the Whales. This is a side effect of their kind being particularly expressive, especially with the pleasures and pains of their own bodies. For those pod-habs and whale-hubs that are open to humans and extraterrestrials, the Dolphins in particular have a subculture in common with humans: they love a good rave, with acid house music and psychedelics lavishly taken to the extremes, which are particularly popular amongst the cyberdelic cults.
Play and sport also find their important roles in Cetacean cultures. Bioluminescent clouds of plankton can be shaped into sculptures, creating light shows popular in the raves. Dolphins often play with bubble sculptures as well, with competitions for the longest lasting and most complex. Usually holography or semi-solid liquids are regarded as cheating.
In their long and contemplative history, the Cetaceans believe they have become receptive to inexplicable meaningful coincidences that appear not to align with physical causality. Since the 22nd century, the Cetaceans have come to revere one human, and that was Dr John. C. Lilly, the only human of the 20th century to understand and explore the Cetacean mindspace. They believe his visions and synchronicity prophesied the apocalypse, when all organic life that depend on water come to a penultimate confrontation with a malignant solid state intelligence that perceives organic life as a hindrance. Although humankind and much of the Gigaquadrant for that matter already believes it has passed a singularity or two, the Cetaceans still think the moment that will change everything has yet to come.
Feel free to add quotes here.
- The page contains much speculation on alien and cetacean intelligence, ideas from Wormulon and Luc, some from known research, some from the online book Xenology by Robert A. Freitas, Carl Sagan's cosmos and the career of John C. Lilly (2). The author realises this is all rather speculative and isn't claiming any of this is actually true of Cetaceans. Though their perception and intelligence would be rather alien to ours.
- The page was originally created by Wormulon to be a shared page, but decided to share it with Luc who has a healthy interest in Cetaceans. The fiction can be used by others.