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[personal profile] eclectic_boy
Some rather-rambly thoughts on an SF concept I haven't seen before:

I was thinking about how the structure of families and the relationship between parents and children is tied to both our lifespan and to our period of sexual fertility. Humans (and lots of other creatures) are fertile pretty much from the moment they grow into adults, even a bit earlier. Indeed, that's a plausible definition of when a person has become an adult. And they stop being so well before death (on average).

Now, playing around with that may be evolutionarily unbelievable, but given that advances in technology have allowed humans to greatly increase the prevalence of other characteristics that are way unfavorable from a purely evolutionary perspective (as my 20/500 eyesight reminds me constantly) I'm not going to let that stop my speculating. Note that I'm not going to give an explanation for *how* this would come to be -- that can be worked out later if the speculation leads to interesting places.

So for the moment let's just accept that humans still have an 80-year-ish average lifespan, and that fertility starts around age 70. From late teens until then you're adult in every way except sexually. What changes happen to people? To families? To society?



First of all, you can no longer take for granted that you're going to live long enough to have children. If that's important to you, cut out all risky behavior that could kill you before age 70.

Next, parents' lives won't have a lot of overlap with their children's. And nobody will ever know their grandparents/grandchildren. How will families, or society, structure themselves to deal with orphans, which would be common given that many people would be just a few years old when their parents died? Would kinship become less important because you'd encounter less evidence of your place in a generational chain, or would that very rarity make family even more important a part of a person's identity?

How will the start of puberty be viewed by a 70-year-old entering it? By their 65-year-old younger sister? By the society around them? Sure, it'll be seen as a natural stage of everyone's life, but for most people in the surrounding society it'll be something that they've never experienced. Certainly it'll be a confirmation of aging more severe than grey hair or wrinkled skin is to us. Will it be something some people try to hide?

What sorts of structures will people make for themselves during their pre-puberty lives, and how will they deal with the sudden urge to be with a sexual partner?

Of course there are many ways this universe-tweak could play out, many blanks I haven't filled in. For instance, is a 40-year-old in this universe more like a 40-year-old in ours? An 11-year-old with a larger body? A Vulcan sans pon farr? Feel free to tackle some of those blanks, or just tell me what your ideas are about this science-fictional supposition!
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