Neural Roots YKTTW Discussion

Neural Roots
a intelligent forest made out of non intelligent trees
(permanent link) added: 2010-10-26 21:53:04 sponsor: GiantSpaceChinchilla edited by: jormis29 (last reply: 2014-05-23 05:35:52)

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Did you know that sometimes a Wise Tree is actually a wise grove?

The logic flows something like this:
  • Plants have roots.
  • Roots kind of look like Neurons.
  • Aliens can look like anything.
  • Therefore a swamp, forest, or jungle is really a large brain that may or may not be out to get you.


See also: Genius Loci, Hive Mind, Plant Aliens, and Setting as a Character


Anime and Manga


  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Bafforr trees used roots to create a surface wide forest brain on Ithor.
  • The Deathstalker series by Simon R. Green had the Red Brain
  • The True Game series of nine books by Sheri S. Tepper had sentient forests.
  • The Grid in Double Vision by Tricia Sullivan, a seemingly sentient fungal clonal colony on an alien planet. It turns out it's the main character's subconscious attempting to interpret TV marketing.
  • "Father", the planet-sized Hive Mind in The Ellimist Chronicles, a kind of giant sponge-like organism that absorbs its victim's memories.
  • Tom Bombadil's "Old Forest" in The Lord of the Rings seems to be something like this. The trees by themselves don't appear to be completely sentient (although Old Man Willow comes closest), but they all behave together to funnel intruders deeper into the forest.
  • The trees on Lusitania in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead although each one is intelligent, they are host to a more powerful entity collectively.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's Vaster Than Empires and More Slow features a planetwide network of that kind.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Midworld and Mid-Flinx, the green world with no name is effectively this trope, all of its vegetation being linked as a gestalt consciousness. They-Who-Keep, a type of tree in which the human inhabitants entomb their dead, form this global "nervous system's" most crucial "ganglia".
  • Not necessarily intelligent, but there's a communal plant-creature in The Hour Of The Gate that moves slowly through the Swordsward, through the coordinated movements of hundreds of interwoven plants. Definitely some sort of neural-analogue communication at work there.

Live-Action Television

Table Top Games
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Dominarian forests have maro-spirits, entities who are empathically and spiritually linked with every tree and living creature in the forest and act as a living representation of the forest's soul.

Video Games
  • The Thorian in the first Mass Effect 1 game is a sentient plant-like thing. As researchers in-game commented, no one really knew what to classify it as. At first they thought there were a bunch of plants along the surface of the planet, but later they realized it was just one big plant.
  • In Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri, the Xenofungus serves as a hindrance to terraforming and a hiding place for the rapacious Mind Worms. It also turns out to be a vestigial neural network housing a fledgling sentience, one which has achieved near-godhood on multiple occasions in Planet's history only to inadvertently trigger mass extinctions which resulted in its inevitable collapse. The human factions can not only aid the Planetmind in its ascension, but use it to achieve their own transhuman evolution.


Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, there's The Swamp, a huge habitat reportedly made from one central tree. The 'forest' itself seems to have a mind of its own, too, though whether it's sentient or not is mysterious.

Real Life
  • Pando, a clonal colony of aspen trees. All one organism and connected by a massive underground root system. As of yet though no sign of sapience or sentiments, it may be biding it's time though.

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