Generality on Jan 19th 2017 at 1:46:26 PM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on Apr 17th 2018 at 2:20:29 AM
Page Type: trope
Most sci-fi writers are at least vaguely aware that evolution is a thing and that it applies to the human species. A few have surmised that this means the human species is likely to be very different in the distant future, and and sought to illustrate what they might be like. While many works show the future of humanity speaking Eternal English and wearing shinier versions of the current fashions, some depict our descendants as strange and advanced, while still maintaining some recognizable essence of humanity.
Humanity experiences an abrupt change in its fundamental nature due to a great leap forward. This may be purely evolutionary, or triggered by genetic engineering, transhumanism, some powerful mutagen such as intense radiation, a Mass Super-Empowering Event, or attempts at uplift by benevolent aliens. Whatever the cause, these new, improved humans will suddenly rear up within our familiar society, contrasting themselves with our mundane natures. This plot element is almost unavoidable, for the basic reason that human audiences find not-entirely-human characters harder to relate to.
These new humans will be smarter, more rational, more perceptive, and probably have improved health and strength as an extra bonus if they don't also have Psychic Powers or other bizarre abilities. They'll probably be better-looking too. They will inevitably consider themselves superior, "more evolved" than regular humans, and strife will ensue. Ultimately, mundane humans will often win out, due to some extra compassion or creativity that makes them special; sometimes the two will learn to live in harmony, each race possessing unique attributes that the other lacks; more rarely, the new humans will win out and become dominant, if not drive the old kind to extinction.
Contrast Stupid Future People, who are less advanced than ourselves, and The Singularity, in which humans change so drastically as to become unrecognizable. See also In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race.
Anime and Manga
- The Gundam franchise has Newtypes, a hypothetical adaptation that results from long-term habitation in space. In addition to being noticeably smarter, Newtypes have Super Senses and increased reflexes, and have better spacial awareness, which are all helpful in a hostile low-gravity environment. In practice, this means they make natural Ace Pilots, which is what we mostly see them doing in the shows.
- The X-Men and other mutants in the Marvel canon were introduced as this, gaining various superpowers as a result of a new gene. Subsequent development in the setting reveals that mutants have been around for a long time, but were comparatively rare until a certain point.
- H. G. Wells' The Time Machine is possibly the Trope Codifier, and goes to a further extreme than most examples. Thousands of years in the future, humanity has split into two sub-races: the Morlocks, who are brutal and cruel yet highly intelligent, and the Eloi, who are beautiful and compassionate, but ineffectual and backward, and also the main prey of the Morlocks.
- The Long Earth features the Next, who develop out of communities of humans living in harmony with Trolls, who are hominids that developed on an alternate version of Earth and which communicate with each other on a deeper level. The Next are so intelligent that they have to invent a special language to keep up with their thoughts, and hold regular humans in disdain because of their irrational natures, making it difficult for the two groups to get along. They are said to have such emotional intelligence that they can effortlessly manipulate regular humans to their own ends, but this is an Informed Attribute in the story, as no character is ever seen successfully swayed by their efforts.
- Doctor Who makes a consistent point that humans are quintessentially human and practically unchangeable, even over billions of years, but variations are occasionally seen. "Utopia" has the Futurekind, a regression of humanity 100 trillion years in the future who have pointed teeth and seek regular humans as a food source, though whether out of insane preference or bleak necessity is not explained.
- Civilization: Beyond Earth is a demonstration of how humanity deals with survival on a new planet long-term, and that it's impossible for us to remain as we are in such a different environment. Even the "Purity" faction who rejects anything un-human adapts its culture to new technology and ends up as The Theme Park Version of our society, garbling its history into Future Imperfect, while the other factions embrace transhumanism to different degrees and variations.
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