How would it work? Eggs would still be fertilized in utero. Instead of a 9-month pregnancy, women would grow the egg for a few months and then lay it. The egg would have a softer shell with some elasticity, so that the egg can be elongated while being laid, but still contain enough nutritious material to grow the fetus for the rest of the months.
Implications? We would have hatchdays instead of birthdays. Those who need help hatching may need a lifetime of therapy. Slightly more gender equality, maybe. Couples would judge each other for choosing natural or synthetic incubation. Literal “miscarriage”. Egg tattoos (portmanteau: eggoos?).
How would it work? Chloroplasts coexist with the digestive system and circulate close to the surface of the skin. Glucose can be generated from sunlight, though at a slower pace than through food (would be difficult to function purely on sunlight). Water still necessary.
Implications? We’re all tinted green (yay!), except for when we’re tinted orange/red/yellow during cooler months. The agricultural industry shrinks dramatically. Rainy days are extra annoying for people who don’t cook. Skin cancer.
3. Prehensile Tails
How would it work? Human tailbones extend a few feet beyond the base of the spine and develop musculature. Tail is able to support full body weight and grip objects that are tennis ball-sized and larger. Tail is furiously furry.
Implications? We give up hand-holding for tail-linking, and keep our lovers warm with a tail wrapped around the waist. Bars with bars, for hanging out. Rogaine develops a line for tail baldness. (I want to note that I’m not a closet furry, not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Honorable Mentions – things that might be cool, but I’m not sure yet.
4. Gills – Atlantis could become a reality, but I wonder if the gills would dry out.
5. Hibernation – Thanksgiving would make more sense, but we already spend an unforgivable amount of time sleeping.
6. Detachable body parts – I wonder if detached human body parts would ever be served as food.
7. Wings – I want to fly as much as anyone, but we might need to have lighter bones or the wings would have to be huge and unwieldy.
I have a semi-serious reason for writing/thinking about this – some of you may know that I’m generally not a fan of sci-fi (literature, movies, etc.). Often it’s because I feel that much of sci-fi can be abstracted as 1. A tweak to our reality has occurred for an implausible reason, and 2. OUR WORLD IS NOW ON THE BRINK OF DESTRUCTION!!!
I think technology generally makes us all a little more annoying (this post may be a good example), but I feel like it’s cheap sensationalism to suggest that technology will inevitably lead to catastrophe. Is it really likely that artificial intelligence or aliens would want to kill humans? Seems disappointingly anthropocentric to me.
The genre I really want more of is what I’ll call “mundane science fiction” – stories that explore scientific possibilities (likely and unlikely ones) and conclude that progress could be folded into our current reality with amusing but non-destructive results. Basically, I want more movies like “Her” and “Timer.” I would also love to have a tail. I will also settle for more conversations with everyone regarding wishes for human evolution.