Editorial – March 2023: The only good sentient species…

Hello everyone,

Working out what would make a good sentient species is going to be a tough call in our reality. By ‘good’, I don’t mean the opposite of bad, but more to do with being a viable species. We do have to look at ourselves, for good or bad, in that respect. Certainly in our present state, you wouldn’t want to unleash us in a galaxy of other sentient species. However, what we think makes a viable sentient species is a lot harder when we can’t justify ourselves.

We can hardly put it down to communications skills. A lot of other species can express and understand each other. The use of tools was once thought what separated us from other members of the animal kingdom until observation showed other species were just as inventive. However, humans are probably the only ones to make use of fire, no doubt initially using what nature provided and then making it for ourselves. No doubt some of the earliest attempts must have burnt forests down but the dividends of heat and light at night encouraged how to isolate it from other flammable materials other than to feed the flames.

A short jump then to cooked foods and enzymes that enhanced intelligence and upped communication and tool-making to another level. It would be interesting to see if we taught the basics of fire to the most intelligent chimpanzee species, the bonobo, and how long would it take them to step up the evolutionary ladder. This is essentially a variation of SF writers David Brin’s ‘Uplift’ technique, even if he did choose to apply it to dolphins as much as apes.

As an SF theme and trope applied to real life, we do have to consider the future and landing on an alien planet and looking at its animal population but finding no sentient species similar to ourselves but some, with a little help, might make the jump up to the next level. This then becomes a matter of ethics and why this is appearing in the editorial and not in my articles.

This trope is used a lot in SF. The 1968 film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ might be the most recognised example but its been used before and many times since. Rarely do we classify it as ‘playing god’ these days although the name fits. It could still fail and should such actions continue until it succeeds? Then it becomes a different kind of faith that we are choosing the right action. It becomes even more questionable should another species watch and do it better that we have chosen the wrong species. Ethics becomes ever more complicated and probably something else that needs to be considered as what is associated with sentience and the right to decide which species is worthy of sentience. Then again, we are hardly perfect in that respect but we do learn something from our mistakes even if it takes much longer for it to be shared by our entire species.

When you consider the various political stances, many of them are governed by individuals who are hardly the epitome of what they represent. George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ is a good example of that problem. Equality is never fair or equal when it comes to leadership. Should we expect the same to happen to an alien species? What happens should an uplifted alien species decides to eliminate those who it deems imperfect amongst its own species as much as other species rather than consider it needs them in their genetic stock for needed mutations to evolve for any eventuality. We’ve seen from our own species, intellect is only one ingredient and there’s a wide range of level of smartness and skill bases that shouldn’t be overlooked.

It becomes an even bigger quandary when there are two intelligent species on the same planet. Do we risk one wiping the other one(s) out. Think of the singular absence of Denisovans and Neanderthals sub-species here. All recent information seems to indicate they were viable sub-sets of man but very little trace of them now. If ever there was an argument that some alien species had whisked them away to cultivate elsewhere, we might actually be staring it in the face without realising it. If we think aliens are going to visit out own planet again, would they bring back our replacements or expect us to get along? Are we any better than that if we were put in a similar situation?

The ethics of this also has to be considered let alone considering an alien mindset applying a similar regime. Mankind’s intolerance itself is hardly going to make for an interesting situation if it happens. If either the Denisovans or Neanderthals sub-species had a more observed or assisted development, either might see Homo sapien as the inferior species, then where would we be? Then it becomes a decision as to who learns from who and should we get along as being in all our interest.

We have a lot to learn from such mental exercises. Understanding our own nature and rise about it is what is truly going to improve our evolutionary development which is now less about physique and more about evolving mental attitudes to make us more tolerant in the world that is falling apart about us.

Thank you, take care, good night and take a little more care, we want a world to last to make such a possibility happen and show we can make some peaceful decisions.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: We think, so we must develop.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: We think. We speculate. We learn.

The Reveal: Politics isn’t always ethical or honest, just a vote-taker.

Observation: If the US air force, other air forces are available, have missile attacked extra-terrestrial UAPs then its unlikely to hit them. Afterall, we have recorded instances of them exceeding Mach 12 in a matter of seconds. Why waste a missile?

Should We Be Speculating: Considering how much UAPs/UFOs are getting into the news headlines, ever had the idea that we might be being prepared for something to happen in the near future?

 Observation: Looking again at the 1986 ‘Aliens’ film, the Engineers spaceship was still outside of the nuclear detonation on LV426 and even if it wasn’t the base containing the eggs was below ground so protected. So why has no one gone back to check?

 Observation: Now if you look at the first episode ‘Identified’ from the 1970 series ‘UFO’, just how was the downed alien returned to SHADO HQ? It isn’t as though SKY ONE can carry a passenger and the DIVER platform doesn’t appear to have a medical bay. Presumably, a SHADAIR plane would Peter Carlin need to go and leave his command?

 A maths joke: People think I’m mean-hearted but I’m just average

 Feeling Stressed: The world is going down the drainpipe without our help.

C’mon now. Some of you lurkers must have the urge to review. Plenty of opportunities here:-


I did think that having a lot of text about submitting material to SFCrowsnest would attract those with a compulsion to read and understand things the geek way. The main problem with the Internet is that it tends to encourage less reading, so time to take a different approach. The original notes will be left on July2009 editorial although the links aren’t likely to work.

With your cover email, tell me something about yourself so I don’t work in a vacuum. The boss in the tower, also called Stephen Hunt, describes me as a ‘Dutch Uncle’ in that I’m good with advice and can explain when I see something that is wrong. Egos should be left at the door as I’m only interested in your talent and how to improve it.


I always have a clarion call for new reviewers and if you have the yen to learn, you’ll quickly get the ropes if you’re never done it before but you must show me a sample, especially if you can follow my guidelines. We can usually get paper-based books in the UK but if you live abroad, then you might have to stick with ebooks. If you’ve picked a book we haven’t reviewed, then it stands a better chance of being used so use the SFC search engine to see first but I need to see how you would write for us.

The obvious qualification is a desire to read regularly and like to tell others about the book without giving away too many spoilers. The benefit is access to free books for the price of a review.

I want to give you the opportunity to get things right so look up the Review Guidelines link: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-want-to-write-reviews-for-sfcrowsnest-what-you-need-to-know-by-geoff-willmetts/


Although we can’t pay for submissions, what we do make up for is exposure. Only the Sci-Fi Channel gets more hits than us so it’s worthwhile getting us on your writer’s CV. Please avoid samplings from book’s you might be writing or have had in print elsewhere as I do check. New original work is best and whether I accept or reject, you will be told of any problems I see so you look your best and a grammar check that is equal to the pro-world. Even the boss finds me scarily accurate.

Flash or One-Page Fiction:-

Speaks for itself. The shortest fiction possible is also the toughest to write as no word must be wasted.

Link here for details: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/one-page-stories-or-flash-fiction-submissions-instructions-by-gf-willmetts/

Short Stories:-

The definition of a short story is anything up to 30 pages and then it becomes a novella. Bear in mind you want other people to read it on-line, stay somewhere between 5-20 pages. At least digitally, you don’t have to go double-line as HTML will do that automatically but think about being concise. If you want to send an attachment with these, then ask first and send as a TXT file as it removes most tetchy virus codes.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-really-want-to-write-an-sf-story-an-update-by-gf-willmetts/


The worse problem I see any samples is poor grammar. Although I don’t want you to think I seek perfection, the less work I have to do, the easier it is to focus on other problems you might have. It will also serve you in good stead if you ever approach paper-based publishers because they will send back any bad grammar samples because it’s not worth their time.

Good grammar is the tool of any writer. Don’t just depend on what you remember doing at school. There are plenty of decent grammar books out there, so remind yourself of the rules. If you think there are far too many to remember, get the major ones right before moving to the next so it becomes second nature.

This link, www.sfcrowsnest.info/the-guide-to-better-grammar-from-the-harrowed-hand-of-gf-willmetts/ will show you the common problems.

To submit, use our email address by joining the spaces as shown here: letters @ SFcrowsnest.info and use the subject matter as to what you’re submitting.

If you have any pastimes that can be used to pass the time in captivity, let me know and we’ll see if it can be turned into an article.

Comments directly to reviews should still work as before.

Good luck



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