From the mythical Kraken to the potential future Squibben, octopodes have terrified a lot of humanity for as long as we have known of the existence of these curious creatures. And wild. Did I mention these cephalopods are wild? Because they’re basically the closest we currently have to aliens on this planet.
From a human point of view, these creatures may seem to be just another lower lifeform that shares our planet, on the same level as cats, dogs, crows and dolphins. Smart, but not as smart as us. Recently, however, we may have discovered something a little different. As far as I can tell, the main reason octopuses haven’t reached human level yet is because they evolve slower than we do, due to their, frankly ridiculous, superpowers.
It brings to mind a lot of potential ideas. The scientific, and by extension the science-fictional, opportunities of the gene editing alone could fuel a million new stories, plots and subplots with ease. And did I mention superpowers? Cephalopods can offer a great basis on a wide variety of superheroes, their abilities and origin stories. The possibilities are practically endless.
I think the real goldmine here, though, is the creatures themselves. A vast ocean world in some distant place, where Nature took her course and cephalopods came out on top in the civilization chain. Or Earth in the far future, once we’ve heated it up to the point where we’ve drowned ourselves out. But my favorite, intelligent octopodes on Enceladus, a moon in our own backyard.
Next time you get the chance, go meet this strange new Muse, and shake a few hands.
Science in the pursuit of Fiction