Expedition — Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV
by Wayne Barlowe
in 1990, is a illustrated Speculative Documentary
about an expedition to the fictitious
planet "Darwin IV" and it's life forms. It was adapted into a TV movie
called Alien Planet
by the Discovery Channel
in 2005, featuring guest appearances
by Stephen Hawking
, George Lucas
, Michio Kaku and Jack Horner.The author's website for the book can be found here.
And the Discovery Channel's website for the movie here.
The book and film provide examples of:
- After the End: Darwin IV itself, possibly. There are many indications from the drones' observations that, as beautiful and unspoiled as the planet is, its biosphere is a mere shadow of its former self. Apparently, Darwin is currently in the process of recovering from a mass-extinction event of uncertain origin sometime in the recent (as in a couple million years) evolutionary past that was so horrific it not only wiped out most of the planet's lifeforms but also radically altered the composition of its atmosphere and oceans, possibly similar to prehistoric Earth's "Oxygen Catastrophe" or, more ominously, the current runaway Greenhouse Effect.
- Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: On Darwin neither jawbones nor eyeballs ever evolved, not that this hinders the aliens much.
- Benevolent Alien Invasion: By humanity or in Alien Planet human-built AI drones.
- Binary Suns: An aspect of the Darwin system.
- Bioluminescence Is Cool: Many species have this.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Plenty bizarre, but recognizable.
- Bizarre Alien Locomotion: All sorts.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: Sonar seems to be the primary sensory input for Darwin IV species.
- Cool Starship: The Von Braun from Alien Planet.
- Crapsack World: Earth, but the Yma are helping to fix it.
- Deus ex Machina: The Skewers, Barlowe even calls them that here
- Humans Need Aliens: The aliens called Yma are there to protect humanity from itself. We'd destroyed the environment almost beyond repair before they showed up, and they're helping us put the world back together.
- Living Gasbag: Eosapiens
- Planimal: Grovebacks
- Shout-Out: Alien Planet
- Speculative Documentary
- Starfish Aliens: Most of the species presented.
- Surveillance Drone: in Alien Planet, three named after famous people.