Race

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As used in the Wongery, a race is any ellogous species of life form. Sometimes a group of related species may be referred to as a single race. The term is not used here to refer to ethnicities and other superficial variations within a species; in the Wongery's terminology, for instance, all humanity (at least on True Earth) comprises a single race. Closely related but distinct races that descended from the same relatively recent ancestor through means other than natural biological evolution, and may even be the same species (but are still significantly different), are known as thedes. Thedy worlds—that is, worlds where multiple related thedes exist—are relatively rare, however, in most cosmoi. True Earth, in particular, is manifestly not a thedy world; aside from the fact that the different ethnicities of humanity did arise through normal evolutionary processes, they are far too similar to each other to qualify as distinct thedes even if they didn't.

Occasionally, a race may be referred to as a "people", but this term more often applies to cultural or ethnic groups within a species.

Contents

Development

Natural ellogous races are generally the result of an evolutionary line gradually increasing in intelligence. It may not be possible to pinpoint an exact generation at which ellogy is achieved, but apparently at some point the beings become sufficiently intelligent for self-awareness and logical thought processes. Though there seem to be few constants true of the development of all races, there are some factors that commonly seem to precede the development of ellogy. Most ellogous races possess some sort of appendage capable of fine manipulation, the better to be able to put their intelligence to use in altering their environment. Presumably beings without such appendages are less likely to develop high levels of intelligence, since they would be less able to take advantage of it—though there have certainly been exceptions. (On some worlds where magic exists, it is possible for a species to develop the ability to manipulate its environment magically, without any physical appendages capable of the feat.) More often than not, ellogous races seem to be omnivorous, though again, there are many exceptions.

Once a species has reached the point of ellogy, its societal and technological development generally begin proceeding much more quickly than its biological evolution. The rate of development accelerates further as it goes on; humans on Earth, for instance, took hundreds of millennia to develop agriculture, which allowed them to gather together into larger settlements, and eased the sharing of information and facilitated the exchange of goods and ideas. From there, it was only a matter of a few millennia before the formation of writing and of something resembling states. A few more millennia saw the formation of large empires, and then a few more the development of the scientific method and then the industrial revolution, which made possible large-scale manufacture and accelerated the pace of further development still more. The creation of computers brought about the so-called Information Age, and so on. Of course, even agriculture followed many significant innovations, such as the creation of language, the utilization of fire, and the making of simple tools, but these watersheds are much more difficult to date.

While different species may not go through all these steps in the same order, the general trajectory seems to be similar. The development of agriculture and civilizations kicks off a major acceleration of development. Science or industry tends to follow; on Earth these came very close together, about a century or two apart, but this isn't always the case. In any event, each of these accelerates the process still further. Even along a particular line of development, the pace tends to accelerate over time. Some projections propose that technological progress follows an exponential growth curve which will eventually lead to a technological singularity, a point at which the rate of acceleration explodes, leading to a radically different world. This idea, however, remains controversial, and many critics have presented arguments that in fact the exponential growth of acceleration is illusory, or holds only over particular intervals, or simply doesn't necessarily lead to the conclusion that a technological singularity will occur.

Interaction

On worlds where only one ellogous race exists, the question of interaction between races is obviously moot. Many worlds, however, are home to multiple races. Even then, it's possible for those races to exist in different parts of the world, or even to occupy different terrains, so that they seldom come into contact. It's also possible, however, for them to share the same environment and compete to some degree for resources. This does not, of course, mean that the races necessarily have to come into conflict; after all, members of the same race also compete for the same resources, yet they can manage to cooperate and form stable societies. Different races, however, seem more likely to be mutually hostile than friendly, at least at first. No doubt this is at least partly explicable genetically; it's arguable that people any species should be more predisposed to aid those more similar to themselves, since they're more likely to share genes. Still, this hostility isn't inevitable, and certainly in some cases very different races do manage to get along.

The first meeting of two races, or at least the first meeting to become widely known by members of those races, is often known as "first contact". While this term is most frequently applied to the meeting of species from different planets, it can apply to other like situations as well. In any case, first contact often sets the stage for subsequent interactions between the two races, though the racial relations can of course change over time.

Interbreeding

For the most part, different races cannot interbreed (with the exception perhaps of certain sets of closely related thedes). They comprise different species, and are no more interfertile than, say, a dog and a cat. When dealing with beings of different empire, which belong to entirely distinct evolutionary lines with no common ancestors, the differences are even greater; the genetic code may be completely different, meaning that the genes of one species are utterly meaningless according to the biological mechanisms of the other. Naturally, there may be certain cosmoi, worlds, or chorodeses where some aspects of biology work differently and crossing of races is easier, but they are exceptions to the rule.

Nevertheless, there may be means of crossing races that cannot interbreed naturally, through sophisticated applications of magic or technology. This means that some interracial hybrids do exist. How well accepted these hybrids are depends on a number of factors; they may be as respected and tolerated as any racial purebred, or they may be scorned and despised. On worlds where interracial hybrids exist but are rare, they may be looked at with awe or wonder... or as fearsome monsters. Depending on the details of the interbreeding process, interracial hybrids may or may not be fertile, either with members of one or both of the parent races or with other similar hybrids. In the last case, while originating as hybrids they may eventually come to be seen as a new species and a new race in their own right.

Artificial races

Like other species, it is possible for a race to be artificially created. Seins are an obvious example, but races may also be created magically, like the arates of Ses and the xou of Eidecia. Such artificial races are often—though not always—considered as inferiors by their creators, though they may with time win recognition as their own beings with equal rights.

As other artificial creatures, artificial races often have no straightforward means of propagating their kind. New like beings must be created anew in a similar way to the original examples. It could be that the beings themselves find a way to perform the process and create more of their kind, but if this is not the case, if the means of creating more of them remains confined to the race that created them, this leads to another dependency on the creator race that may have important repercussions.

Culture

Obviously, different races have distinct cultures. Some differences may be in part due to physiological or psychological differences between the races, but others may just as well be due simply to their separate development, no different in kind from the differences between cultures within a race. For that matter, if two or more races have considerable interaction and interchange of ideas, it's quite possible for them to integrate enough with each other for the cultural variance between the races to be much smaller than the cultural variance within a race—although physical and mental differences between the races are still likely to lead to some cultural differences between them.

This extends to the different races' religions, if any; while multiple races may very well share the same gods and pantheons, this is not necessarily the case. Different races may have their own racial gods distinct from those of other species; in fact, of course, while some particularly rare or insular races may have only one or a handful of racial gods, many races will have their own multiple racial pantheons comparably complex and extensive to those of human cultures. Even where a race does share gods with or adopt them from another culture, members of different races are likely to see the god differently, viewing the god as being similar to themselves.

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