If there is one thing that can be said, humans are very good at changing their environment. Now regardless of your views on climate change or greenhouse gases, it cannot be denied that humans have left a big and very literally mark on our planet.
We’ve been doing it ever since our primeval ancestors figured out that fire can be used to clear forest, and that the grasslands created by such burning attracts grazing animals and gives us a clear line of sight for our throwing spears and nets. We have been doing it ever since the ancient humans figured out they could damn creeks to make ponds that lured in waterfowl. That if you repeatedly burned a clearing, the berry bushes would keep coming back ever year. That if you created stone walls along the low tide line, you could create sandy terraces that are perfect for clams. We managed our resources, only fishing at certain times, only hunting certain types of animals, or only cutting certain types of trees.
Then we invented agriculture and we wrought even more changes on the planet. We cleared forests to make room for our fields, pastures and cities. We terraced entire hillsides to allow us to grow crops. We drained swamps and cut the landscape with irrigation canals to provide our crops with water. Often we changed the very course of rivers and altered the soil we relied on, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Forests disappeared as our cities and emerging states needed timber for construction, ship-building, and fuel to make pottery, smelt metals, cook our food, and keep us warm.
But we didn’t just change the landscape, we also changed the plants we grew so that they suited our needs. We changed the animals we relied on. We turned wolves into dogs, auroch into cows, ibex into goats, jungle fowl into chickens, and wild boars into pigs. We called this process domestication, and soon quickly forgot that we had ever been without these domesticates.
We made artificial hills for our rituals, built mountains out of cut stone to mark the tombs of revered rulers, carved symbols into the landscape. Sliced into mountains to carve roads, mine metal ores, and quarry stone. We made monuments so astounding that people thousands of years later thought they must have been made by the gods, and buildings of the modern age that dwarf them.
We’ve also traveled. We’ve crossed all our oceans, bringing with us the animals and plants of our homelands, and returning home with the animals and plants of other lands. Some is intentional. New crops that offer new advantages. Animals from far away to awe visitors or remind us of home. Some is unintentional. Plant seeds lodged in the tread of our boots. Insect larva in the bilge of our ships. Rats that scurry and stay out of sight, and hitch a ride on our sailing ships and outrigger canoes. Some we regret bringing, intentionally or not, others have settled in and carved their own place in their new home.
And now we look to the stars and wonder if we could do the same to other planets. To bring our life and our world to the stars. To turn a red planet green and blue.
And what if we succeeded? What if a red planet turned green, and flushed with our success, we turned to other balls of rock orbiting distant stars.
And what if we encountered other life. Life that was like us, but also very different. What if they had never seen life like ours before, that spread to the stars turning red, grey, and brown planets blue and green.
What if some are fearful. What if they seen our domesticated animals, our sculpted landscapes, and our diverse nations and fear that we will assimilate and change them and their world like we did to our ancient animal enemies and our distant home planet.
But what is some our awed, and look at us and see a species that can not only adapt itself to new and challenges and environments, but that also changes the challenge and environment itself. Often changing and adapting to the changes they themselves wrought. For better and worse, humanity sailed the stars on the crest of a wave of change that they themselves have been creating since their distant ancestors set fire to the underbrush and realized they could use this.
If someone made something you thought up, do it anyway
I’ve seen a lot of posts about this, but I have something I just realized, so here’s my hot take:
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett were friends. They both released books about how gods need worship to survive, to live. Gaiman’s is obviously American Gods, a long celebrated novel that is finally getting a live-action adaption. It focuses on the gods of the old world in America and the long buildup to a fight with the new gods of the modern age. The gods either want to keep their power, want it back, are comfortable in new jobs they’ve taken, or whatever. Very few of the characters are average humans. And one of them is a zombie.
Pratchett’s book is titled Small Gods. This is also a book about a desperate god trying to get back into power, but the focus is on the human characters, not the gods. Om, the desperate god, is never in a position of power in the narrative until the end. He has schemes and plans, but these go often awry and he finds himself swept along by the multitude of human characters who move and shape the story.
These are two very different works with, I feel, two very different themes. Both written by friends and obviously with the same basic idea.
So make your thing. Just do it, I guarantee it won’t be anything like theirs.
You know what I want to see more of? Images of our gods in the modern age. They’re not just our ancestors’ gods, they’re ours too.
I want to see Freyr blessing migrant farmer laborers. I want to see Freyja watching over sex workers. I want to see Odin camped out under an overpass, swapping stories. I want Tyr marching with protesters and Thor fighting tyrants. I want Frigga as a high powered lady executive or attorney, Eir as a nurse in an overcrowded and underfunded inner city hospital
Our gods our more than gleaming steel and mead halls. Humanity has grown and changed, and of course the gods have come along with us!
mighty one, hold strong against the forces that assail you. stand tall and powerful as the great oak; never allow any man to best you. call down the lightning when evil makes itself known; call down the rains when your people cry out for want of water. warrior, be fearless and bold: you are the hero and the defender, and by your power is the world kept in its rightful balance.
♕ The Gods Are Dead: Modern Mythology Collection ↷ Emori
In the new age, Hecate flips the sign on the window to say closed. She longs for days gone by when people knew the truth. MAGIC is very real. Instead, she has to smile politely while customers come to her store to purchase items they know not how to use and religious men preach about how witchcraft is a sin, and she will burn in hell. Hecate does not care. She is as immortal as magic.
keep the law. mete out justice upon oathbreakers. on the field of battle stand tall and strong; do not falter, even when the worst befalls you. with your bravery win the day—and where others draw back, step forward instead, and place yourself into the jaws of the wolf without fear. what you have lost is never a mark of shame: rather, hero, it is the loss itself that proclaims your glory.
Anup takes his coffee black, almost to the point of boiling.
he exhales steam and straightens his tie, as dark as the crypts he once tended to. judgement begs formalities.
so gold dust settles on his eyelids, shimmering under the delicate touch of a make-up brush, contrasting charcoal irises.
(how does your heart weigh?)
in a modern age, even the gods must adapt,
and the local cemetery remains a sanctuary for the blessed dead.
he ghosts through existence, cleaning off headstones, just a shadow at the edge of the peripheral. he likes it that way.
balanced between life and death, he smiles divine, teeth skeleton-white,
holding your fate cupped in his hands.
ok but a modern au with my da protags…literally they just all work together as dog walkers. hawke is getting a text from this one white haired client that he totally digs, griffin is hyping him up and nikolai is wondering how many dogs he could bring home before his boyfriend would get pissed off.