By Kenyon Stronski
Speculative zoology, or ‘Spec Zoo’ as some people like to call it for short, is a form of fictional biology that centres around exploring hypothetical scenarios in the evolution of life.
Spec Zoo doesn’t focus on scientifically accurate scenarios or evolution that has already taken place, although writers have used it as a baseline for their work.
If you’ve ever watched a movie that has a species of animal that doesn’t exist, or a movie set in the far future where animals look different, you’ve been exposed to the genre of speculative zoology. Some of these renditions are quite popular, and the piece of fiction that most easily comes to mind for me is King Kong where fictitious descendants of animals were showcased and it was imagined what 65 million years of isolated evolution may have done to dinosaurs.
I’ve been a fan of Spec Zoo for a number of years now, and have always found it interesting, however, my favourite piece of work in the genre is an illustrated book called All Tomorrows by C.M. Koseman writing under the pen name of Nemo Ramjet. The piece explores an alternate history of human evolution that passes over nearly a billion years from the present day, and in my opinion, is a wonderful work of art.
All Tomorrows moves from the colonization of Mars to a catastrophe, onto genetically engineered humans taking on the stars. Through the course of the piece, humans are subject to a variety of trials and tribulations that eventually end up in them splitting off into a large variety of different races.
Some are incredible singers, others are more adapted to fishing and living underwater, or experiencing life in zero gravity. For those with any interest in the subject, or evolution in general, I’d highly recommend giving All Tomorrows a read. It’s available online in PDF form and is completely free.
There’s a variety of other written works on the topic as well, such as All Yesterdays by C.M. Koseman, although I didn’t find it as enrapturing as All Tomorrows, or After Man by Dougal Dixon – who initially introduced me into the topic of Spec Zoo. They’re largely all extremely interesting reads and I think it’s extremely interesting to dive deeper into what we or animals in the future could be based on certain environmental pressures.
As it stands today, Spec Zoo is still a movement in its relative infancy with the first ‘real’ work being After Man, although it has gained a fairly large amount of traction in the last few years with the most popular subject still being the evolution of Earth’s organisms.
So, if you ever find yourself bored and thinking of the ‘what could be’s’ or ‘what’s really out there’s’, I’d recommend giving speculative zoology a look. Maybe it’ll become one of your new interests, too.