The weeping and talking timber of Virgil and Dante recommend that the concept of communication with crops is of nice antiquity, however solely within the sense of the transmigration of human souls into crops; the topic will not be but a real plant intelligence in its personal proper.
Subsequent is the instance of transition within the first a part of William Hope Hodgson. Glen Carrig boats (1907). Within the chapter “The Land of Loneliness”, we’re taken to an island in which there’s weeping at evening, and evil timber are likely to wrap their branches across the reckless traveler. The account means that human souls are in some way sucked into the timber after which invite to affix them. The sensation of horror is peculiar and highly effective. The ambiance is one in all supernatural worry, however the work can hardly be thought of science fiction.
Then comes the heyday of science fiction in magazines, and every kind of representations of clever crops are flourishing within the literature.
Murray Leinster’s “Proxima Centauri”, courting from the early years of the SF pulp, depicts malicious space-traveling crops attacking human explorers. A extra delicate strategy comes from plant intelligence on a planetary scale in Clark Ashton Smith’s 1931 story “Seedlings of Mars”, the place humanity is subjugated by the promise of utopia. Raymond Z Gallun, one other classic author from the Thirties, produced a extra evocative variation on this theme in “ Seeds of Twilight, ” the place this time humanity is gassed to peaceable demise by an alien plant invader within the distant future. . On this newest story, the reader is made to really feel that the elimination of the final degenerate people will not be an ideal loss to the world.
As a change from these threats, in Clifford D Simak’s All flesh is grass (1965) we really encounter benevolent (albeit considerably ruthless) clever life in plant kind, though the shape it takes is that of a planetary organic pc that works by photosynthesis, and that’s solely externally much like the vegetation that we all know of. All flesh is grass is one in all Simak’s finest novels, a pleasure to learn. Proclaiming the brotherhood of all species in its light, human and inimitable fashion, but there’s nothing candy or tender about it, and it comprises a variety of pleasure, menace and this encroachment of a wierd cosmos on unusual life, which is the hallmark of a sure sub-genre of science fiction – what you would possibly name the small city cataclysm.
What about plant civilization thought of in itself, no matter its encroachment on humanity? For that it’s a must to go to Olaf Stapledon, with 8 pages in Star maker (1937) wherein he recounts the rise and fall of the “plant-men” of a small, scorching and energy-rich world. The historical past of the beings he describes is dominated by the strain between their energetic nightlife and their diurnal contemplative nature. The stability is ultimately misplaced, and first one, then the opposite nature predominates, resulting in the lack of vegetable males and their world. In 40 years of science fiction studying, I’ve by no means discovered something comparable in depth to those 8 pages, relating to the theme of plant intelligence. It’s a parable of common relevance to all cultures, within the emphasis it locations on the important significance of constancy to 1’s pure origins.