H2O: Just Add Water and the Aboriginal Mermaid Myth

by anonymous

The show H20: Just Add Water is a children’s show about three teenage girls Emma, Cleo and Rikki (And later, Emma is replaced by Bella) who become mermaids and grow tails as soon as they touch water. The first episode shows their encounter and how they end up taking a boat out for a spin. The boat runs out of fuel and they decide to paddle to the nearest land, Mako Island, where all three of them fall into a crater of a dormant volcano. Their only way out is to dive through the reef. While the girls are in the water, the moon shines over the volcano and the water around them begins to bubble. The next day, after making it out of the crater, the girls grow tails and develop superpowers over water.

Already in the first episode, many Australian characteristics, such as the setting of the series, can be seen. Set on the Gold Coast, the series features a very summery beach and surf aesthetic that non-natives often associate with Australia. Another very Australian feature is the production, including the actors and their distinctive accents. All of this supports the authenticity of the show. But these are not the only aspects. The show also shows a connection to the mermaid myth, also known as the Yawkyawk, of the Aboriginal people.  

The Yawkyawk is a female creature originating from the mythology of Aboriginal people from the northern territories of Australia. Yawkyawk translates to “young girl with a fish tail” and resembles mermaids with seaweed for hair. They are described as freshwater creatures that lived in lakes and rivers. In addition, the Yawkyawk were able to shapeshift into snakes, crocodiles, swordfish, or other animals, and they could manipulate the weather when they were angry. Thus, they played a major role in the indigenous culture and language. Aboriginal paintings depicting the Yawkyawk creatures still hang in Australia’s national museums.

Knowing this myth, one can assume that the show H20: Just Add Water was inspired by it. The main similarities that stand out are the fishtails, obviously, but especially the supernatural powers that the girls develop in the series. Each of them develops a different power, such as freezing, boiling, and moving water. Often these powers are used when they get angry or try to help their friends. Later in the series, weather control also is revealed as a mermaid power. The existence of the myth is also mentioned in the series, when they try to find out more about the origin of the mermaids.

However, there are also many differences between the depiction of the mermaids in the show and in the myth. The Yawkyawk are said to live in the water, while the girls in the series only grow tails when they touch the water. Their superpowers are also different from those of the Yawkyawk in most cases. These differences can be attributed to the fact that it is a children´s show. The myth of the mermaid is found in many different cultures, such as Native Americans, ancient Greeks, Asians, etc., and they are usually associated with negative expectations. In some cultures, the creatures are described as possessors, sirens, or unlucky omens that bring disaster or attract and kill sailors. It is to be expected that these characteristics are not appropriate for a show aimed at a young audience. In summary, despite the differences, the show is a good example of typical Australian culture and emphasizes the reference to Aboriginal mythology. Thus, it raises awareness and brings us closer to the indigenous culture.

The Infinite Man – Movie Review

by Eva Musat

The Infinite Man is a 2014 Australian science-fiction film directed by Hugh Sullivan that is about Dean, a scientist, who wishes to relive a special weekend he had with his girlfriend Lana. When Lana’s ex-boyfriend Terry interrupts them, Dean tries to make things right by traveling back in time. The film takes place in only one location, the hotel where said special weekend took place, and only has three characters.

The limited setting, few characters, and time travel plot are the things that drew me to this movie in the first place. It is quite similar to the movie Coherence (2013), which I think is one of the most innovative thrillers I´ve seen recently. However, The Infinite Man develops more into the genres of romance and comedy, whereas Coherence belongs to the surreal and thriller genres.

I had high hopes for this movie, but I ended up being a little bit disappointed and by the end, confused.  This doesn´t mean it was bad, I just didn´t like it as much as I expected it to. The first part of the movie intrigued me, but started to feel a bit static; in the middle and toward the end of the movie the cleverly written dialogue helped turn the movie around.

The very first thing we see is Dean, while his inner monologue is heard, where he talks about loving his girlfriend and understanding her neurochemically, in a way that nobody else can. He believes he is the only one that can make her happy because, having studied her from the perspective of a scientist, he knows exactly how. This sets an interesting tone for the movie and I expected that we delve into the scientific details behind Dean´s knowledge of Lana, but that never happened.

The overall plot was well structured. It had very few plot holes, which was quite surprising, but it lacked the clarity needed to understand the movie. I think that maybe a small difference in the characters´ appearance for each time travel loop would have helped. I understand that in order to relive the weekend Dean wants every character to wear the same clothing each time; after all, if the perfect weekend happened once, why shouldn´t it work again, if the same conditions and circumstances are met? But a small change in hair color, hairstyle, or facial hair would have helped the viewer a lot.

If one wants an interesting plot and an exploration of time travel, the movie falls slightly short, as it is easy to get confused with the timeline. This confusion can be solved by some research, which led me to a website that explains the different time travel plots in detail and even includes a chart.[1]

While the plot is lacking, if anybody needs inspiration for unique directing, cinematography and editing, this is by all means the movie to watch.

The technical aspects of the movie, are just beautiful. The colors have a specific yellow and orange vintage look about them and the notable choice of music both make for a unique viewing experience. Especially eye-catching is the way the camera follows our characters, more specifically the way it follows the places Dean points to when he shows Lana where they were last year. Additionally, the film editing is very striking, in the way it cuts to different paintings and even the list Dean made for the perfect weekend, as are the different transitions used in the film.

Overall the movie is fun to experience, but difficult to grasp without looking at some sort of explanation. Still, it can be enjoyable and even interesting to watch, if you like unique technical aspects such as camera work and film editing.

[1] Swaminathan, B. (Barry). (2019, October 17). The Infinite Man Explained (2014 Australian Film). This Is Barry. https://www.thisisbarry.com/film/the-infinite-man-ending-explained-2014-film/

Cargo: An Emotional Take on the Zombie Apocalypse

Short Film vs. Feature-length Film

by Eva Musat & Julia Riffel

The 2013 Australian short film Cargo, written and directed by Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling is about a father who must save his young daughter from zombies by trying to escape and find a safe haven from the virus that has swept Australia. The short film was later adapted in 2017, made into a feature-length film by its creators, and categorized as an Australian post-apocalyptic horror drama.

Even though the feature film is based on the original screenplay of the short film, the two films differ considerably from each other.

Firstly, it is important to note that the feature-length movie graciously honored its predecessor by not changing the Australian setting. Instead, it only amplified the beautiful scenery from the short film, showing a visually stunning outback. This heightens the feeling of isolation throughout the father’s journey and demonstrates to the audience the harsh circumstances he must deal with in his struggle to survive.

The main difference between the two media pieces is the way the respective formats work. In the short film, we don’t get any background information and are directly thrown right into the action. Only gradually we are shown the situation and introduced to the characters. We have the basics of the idea: some kind of virus that turns the people into a kind of zombie and a father trying to find a safe space for him and his baby – all without speaking. This is a particularly interesting aspect of the short film since it manages to keep its viewers entertained with no dialogue throughout the duration of the movie. The viewer focuses on what is shown on the screen – the visuals. In a typical movie, this would mean carefully planned shots, changes in lighting, and overall powerful cinematography to make up for the lack of verbal content. However, Ramke and Howling use the camera to focus only on the plot, there are no unnecessary landscape shots or subplots, making it a highly efficient storytelling method.

In the full-length version, we see a little more of what’s going on. We get an additional 20 to 30 minutes of exposition that leads us up to the point where the original short film starts. We also have more developed relationships within the family as the mother is still alive at the beginning of the movie. This makes the movie far more tragic than the short film version, as we see how they turn into zombies and how Andy, the father, has to overcome his selfish feelings. There is also a sense of urgency that is not present in the short film. After being bitten, you have around 48 hours until you turn- there are even first aid kits for this! But the movie version is also far more gruesome as it shows the turning (not recommended for people with a weak stomach). Andy’s journey through the feature-length film is extended by various subplots and even more painful traveling while trying to come up with the best plan to save his daughter, all of which the director accompanied with wide-range landscape shots. Because of all this new and extensive information, the viewer is fully immersed in the experience of the story and by the end of the movie, one or two may even shed a few tears.

Overall the two movies are quite different in the way they work and the lasting impression they leave behind. The short film is more effective in its storytelling yet it lacks the emotional part that the feature-length film creates. The 2017 version manages to make a lasting impression of the painful experience Andy has to go through by focusing on his journey and different aspects of it.

Horror and Ghost

by anonymous

Some things are scary. It can be the unknown in a dark alley, an old doll at a flea market, some irremovable stains, or simply the monsters under our beds. Sometimes it’s not physical, but only some unreasonable feeling in our guts. And sometimes it’s a whole composition of deeply rooted human fears, a cursed or blessed item, and the gut feeling combined.

That is what the woman in “Sleeping Dogs”, a short story written by Kirstyn McDermott, experiences. The story is part of Cthulhu Deep Down Under Volume 2, a collection of horror short stories published in 2018.

Our protagonist, a thirty-year-old woman called Ghost, is asked by her newest client to locate and secure a figure with only a sketch of the item. After a horrific nightmare, Ghost has a hunch about where to start and travels to Australia. A few weeks without any positive developments pass before she finds a new lead and eventually detects the required item. But as soon as she acquires it, her gut feeling and the people around her start to behave in strange manners, as if they are driven by other forces.

Ghost – a rather fitting name for the main protagonist of a horror short story, don’t you think? – has the ability to detect lost items. Not in the way a common detective would, but rather in a paranormal way. She is no magician or witch, yet always accompanied by a feeling in her guts that works like a metal detector, intensifying when her target gets closer.

Said gut feeling isn’t too scary, to begin with, but what makes the story sort of uncanny from the very beginning is the object Ghost has to locate. According to her client and her assistant, the last time the figure had been seen was about sixty years ago, and there are only two living people who ever caught a glimpse of it and could describe it.

But Ghost is encountered with the first real horror when she finds herself seemingly drowning, choked by muddy water, and surrounded by darkness and cold. A dream? A vision? It feels like it’s best to not know the answer.

The unknown which lingers in the darkness, in the “utter blackness that has never known the touch of light” (McDermott, 16), is something commonly feared by humans. It’s a deeply rooted instinct trying to protect us from potential dangers which remain unseen. Such invisible dangers and fiends are harder to deal with since most humans solely rely on their ability to see, instead of using their other senses.

Our protagonist luckily doesn’t have to face the fear of darkness for much longer but the next horrific element she encounters isn’t less frightening in any way, introduced by a strong inexplicable pain in her head. Ghost calls it a migraine, but a pain described as “colors [that] fracture and pulse in the centre of her vision, spreading rapidly, [making] her temples throb, [and causing] a dull ache […] along her jawline” (McDermott, 21) seems way too intense and sudden for a normal occurrence of migraine. This pain, and the fact that it was caused just by removing a wax seal from the figure’s box, revives the uncanny atmosphere in the short story. A strong migraine might not sound too scary for most readers but it is followed by a scene in which people around Ghost and the object start behaving oddly; somebody tries to steal the bag with the figure, and other people try to forcefully enter her hotel room. Ghost calls it a “matter of the walking dead” (McDermott, 25), referring to the people as zombies, which already sounds alarming. I think the idea of the stereotypical zombie would feel less sinister, considering that there is a visible cause that leads to people being zombified, but in the short story’s case, there is no disease, no chemical weapon, no virus; just an old figure. An old figure that erodes some sort of aura, strong enough to affect people close to it, within an unknown radius. This aura leads to people being externally controlled, by some force neither explained nor further investigated, but it’s safe to say that the affected people are not in charge of their bodies.

The short story makes use of several ways to create horror, angst, and an uncanny feeling. Deeply rooted fears, voices without origin, nightmares, and the fear of not being in charge of their own body; though luckily, our protagonist doesn’t have to experience them all. Using those different kinds of tropes creates a rich diversity of moments that might make you shiver in fear and expectation. Additionally, an allusion to a city mentioned in one of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories, “The Call of Cthulhu”, guides the reader’s mind into deeper spheres of horror.

The story begs the question: Should we always “let sleeping dogs lie” or should we, just like Ghost, wake them up and face them? Or is such adventurous behavior exclusive to stories and tales only?

What horrors might await once you start digging deep enough? You may go on a journey yourself, or maybe you prefer to follow another story’s protagonist. Either way, let me ask you: “What are your feelings about finding a lost city?” (McDermott, 30).

Human Beings Playing God

by Mara Geißen

My first intuition about a book titled Ghost Species was that it would be about ghosts in some way. However, it is not about the living dead haunting somewhere, but much more excitingly about the re-creation of past and forgotten DNA – the topic that occupied me the most while reading the book. The creation of life that no longer exists. Not only animals, like mammoths, but the creation of a Neanderthal kept me very engaged. In short, people are playing God in the book, and I wonder how that is morally feasible. The creation of autonomous, independent, and above all intelligent life seems to be no longer the exclusive province of the divine. Evolutionarily speaking there are a few reasons why for example dinosaurs, mammoths and other human species no longer exist. Natural life evolves, improves, and learns from ‘mistakes.’ It becomes more robust against diseases and adapts to new environmental conditions.

Although Eve is created out of supposedly good intentions, it is rather questionable and interferes with nature. The aim is, of course, to solve a major problem on our planet; global warming. Davis states that the human and the environment no longer make sense and that it is up to human beings to re-engineer the world (cf. p. 19).  But should a human-made problem be solved by another intervention in nature? What problems would arise then? In the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films, for example, you can very clearly see the negative effects of human intervention in nature and in the restoration of extinct living creatures. After that, the dinosaurs that already exist are not ‘enough’, and people start experimenting. How far would the experiment ‘Eve’ go? Eve would most likely be just the beginning of an experimental series, which goes beyond the actual intention of saving the world and possibly ends in mixing the DNAs of different Homo species to create the ‘perfect’ human who doesn’t get sick, who is strong and highly intelligent at the same time.

From the very beginning, Kate wonders if what they are about to do is right. A living person in a laboratory feels morally wrong (Bradley 43). From a scientific point of view, it would be a huge achievement to resurrect Neanderthals though. Kate in particular shows that despite her scientific nature, she thinks the whole project is morally wrong. This is shown, of course, when she kidnaps Eve from the lab and to prevent her from being treated like an experiment and an object. It is also acknowledged, as it is mentioned in the book, that it is definitely a breakthrough in science. No question about it! Nevertheless, one should consider how inseparable human reconstructions behave, feel and weigh the consequences carefully. No human being on earth would probably like to grow up in a laboratory, having to go through all the tests without being allowed to lead a ‘normal’ life. This raises the question of why these people are created at all if they are not allowed to be human.

Ghost Species – about the Fallacies of Capitalism

by anonymous

The Australian novel Ghost Species by James Bradley talks extensively about the nature of human life, nature vs. nurture, finding your place in the world, etc.

Underlying its positive messages to these topics is a frankly horrifying depiction of how far a human being can go in pursuit of glory. This boils down to one character: Davis Hucken, a mogul who tries to use his vast fortune and technology to supposedly “solve” humanity’s woes that they caused themselves and to be seen as a hero for it (Totally not Elon Musk).

Though the focus is on Kate Larkin and her adopted daughter Eve, a resurrected Neanderthal who was born through a surrogate mother, Davis exists as a necessary device for the plot to happen in the first place, as the story is really about Kate and later Eve trying to get by in a world that is slowly falling apart around them. Davis might not be responsible for the state of the world, but he uses it as an opportunity to make money. To “wow” what is left of the world. To play God.

Though it is not what the novel was going for, the lack of focus on that conflict is a bit disappointing. Aside from Kate’s perspective, with her only friend being Yassamin, another mother, the readers don’t really get a glimpse of what the rest of the world does or what it is thinking. Unlike the Hunger Games, the book acknowledges the existence of non-English continents and that other people do actually exist in that world and are just as concerned about the state of the world as anyone else is. Yet, there is never a focus on these global issues.

But that begs the question: If nobody is there to witness these “wonders” Davis is pulling out of his sleeve, why is he is doing this? Besides the obvious, clear case of Savior’s Syndrome that he seems to have, with Kate clearly stating that he’s too sociopathic to be on the spectrum (Thanks, Kate!). But is he? While he is a modern Frankenstein (as others have pointed out) in more ways than one, he not only creates a thinking being out of nothing but then tosses it into a world to fend for herself. One might argue that he might’ve read Frankenstein and realized that refusing to take responsibility for his creation might be a bad idea. But then again, why is he doing this without anyone there to tell him how “great” he is?

Easy answer: To play God. When a person is presented with limitless power in a world that is more concerned with keeping itself together, something goes “crack” inside that person’s mind. They delude themselves into believing that they can not only do anything they want but also get away with it. That’s why Davis ‘should care: He would care about the glory if someone gave it to him, but he seems to be mostly bored out of his mind.

However, Davis disappears from the story once Eve takes over as the main character. What might’ve happened in those thirty years when Kate and Eve lived in hiding, then accepted funding from him for a good home? While he still had some power before they disappeared, it is most likely that his efforts were fruitless and that he should’ve focused on fixing the earth first, then bringing back the extinct species. While a few lines of dialogue do imply that he did try to counteract Global Warming, why is this supposedly just a side project that none of the main characters bat an eye at?

What is telling is that Kate and Jay were truly the only people who questioned him at any point. As far as the readers know, the other scientists might’ve accepted Davis’s money with a smile only to whisper “What a lunatic” under their breath.

Ghost Species shows exactly what happens when you let a megalomaniac man-child with too much money out in the world. They start building palaces and cathedrals out of glass. Then they use the same material to build animals and believe that they can actually be livestock. Then they build people, believing that not only do they actually think, but they also happen to enjoy their company and aren’t just here because they can’t run away. But glass has a tendency to crack and break.

How not to Shape the Future

by anonymous

The question of whether reproduction is still a morally responsible thing to do has been a highly debated topic which has recently even expanded onto the mainstream discourse. The predominant approaches we’ve seen are firstly the assumption that the earth is overpopulated by humans and that humans should induce population decline by simply having fewer kids. This mindset is popular, especially among younger, liberal western audiences. On the other hand, many deny the current problems resulting from too densely populated areas and the mismanagement of resources. Conservatives mostly believe that overpopulation and even climate change are myths created to pacify and scare the population. Their desire to form an opposition and to guarantee an advantage to their associated group fuels the rejection of such problems. Lastly, the most rational and humane approach comes with the realization that there are enough resources for even more humans, but current systems favor an uneven distribution that gives superficial advantages to those few hoarded resources. The novel Ghost Species represents a fourth approach to this conflict through the character Davis. Davis believes that reshaping the natural balance will secure a future for humanity. He reappropriates many aspects of the aforementioned views, but they ultimately get warped by his narcissistic and megalomaniac personality. He believes in human-made climate change, but his snooty nature also leads him to believe that he’s able to manipulate and control nature. I believe he also sees himself as a philanthropic person that uses the resources available to him for what he deems the greater good. His logic is flawed though. He sees how humans destroyed micro and macro systems through pollution resulting in changed parameters, interspecies relationships, and population numbers. He thinks he’s not only able to reverse this process but to improve the now damaged systems by inserting new species into them and even emulating natural selection.

Now let’s take a look at how Davis tries to achieve the goals that his twisted ideology established for him. He tries creating new more effective ecosystems to combat the declining state of the earth and the resulting end of the human species. He does this by resurrecting extinct species. Most importantly for us, the Homo Neanderthalensis depicted by the neanderthal Eve. The end of the book goes to show that he not just failed to succeed with his plan to conserve the modern human world but also possibly created a new apex species that are better adapted for the new harsh world to come.

Him creating life is immoral because he doesn’t create Eve so that she can flourish but to help his own species. Unborn life in general is never able to consent to its own creation. Eve is to be born into a specifically non-sustainable world as an experiment to regain balance. Davis doesn’t intend for her to become a being but only to deliver harmony to humankind. Like Kate who refuses to have children because she was born into an inappropriate environment, Davis also should refuse to bring life into a dying world. Eve is unable to follow her predetermined path which leaves her stranded in an uncertain world. He bans himself and the whole world from a livable future by seeking to bring back the past. Davis didn´t succeed and now the future lies in the hands of Eve.

The thoughts and actions of Davis who thinks of humans as the superior race, that together conquered the need for a god, ironically dooms humanity for an apocalypse and gives rise to a world beyond his imagination.

Davis and his God Complex

by Janine Braune

While reading Ghost Species, one character in particular caught my eye, Davis. Let me give you a short introduction, to who Davis is. Davis Hucken is a white male in his thirties with a slim figure and blond hair. He is a tech billionaire and the founder of Gather, a social media network. Davis likes to dress in jeans with band t-shirts or hoodies. So contrary to the typical image of a wealthy businessman, he likes to be comfortable. His parents are both psychiatrists.

I wish to analyze if he really is just a wealthy man with a scientific vision and a god complex, or if there is more to him. Therefore firstly, I need to identify how his god complex is expressed.

Davis plans to re-engineer the world’s relationship with nature, and he states to achieve this, we need to let go of the idea that we’re distinct, separate, and unique. He plans to de-extinct other species, while always stating that his mission is only to make the world a better place. He tries to justify his actions as if they are for the benefit of everyone. At the same time, he states that all humankind isn’t distinct from each other, but he declares himself a savior. It is clear that he sees himself as the messiah of the world, and only his vision can be the only solution.

His behavior from the perspective of other characters is often described as odd and as a mode of performing. Kate frequently explains that while talking to him, she feels like she is watching some sort of rehearsed performance. According to Kate, there is some awkwardness, as his reactions are not natural but somehow acquired. Davis seems like a different kind of being. On the one hand, his earlier statements show that he is trying to play God, but on the other hand, we could argue that Davis is only trying to portray the image of God. And he isn’t necessarily convinced of his own divinity. Davis is highly intelligent and totally understands which customs and conducts are expected from him. By making use of this knowledge, he tries to manipulate and control his external perception. However, as his behaviors aren’t always unforced, outsiders may perceive his behavior as odd or weird. Those cracks can be seen on many occasions. For instance, while holding a speech in the spotlight, Kate describes him as weirdly uncomfortable looking, like an animal caught in a trap. This is interesting because shouldn’t people with a god complex enjoy getting all the attention they can? We can see that maybe his true self doesn’t align with the image he is trying to portray. I wonder if in this particular instance he failed to uphold his mask because he isn’t receiving instant feedback from the faces of the audience? From personal experience, I know how hard it is to recognize anything while a bright light is shining on you. If we now speculate that Davis learned his social cues in conversation with people and always matched his performances based on their reactions, then in this situation the foundations for his manipulation would be missing.

Another interesting situation is his interaction with Eve as a newborn. Eve is the product of his vision and goals, the product of all the things he stands for, and yet he cannot hold or touch her. The question to ask is why? Is the reason that he simply is unbothered by ordinary human desires too long after closeness? Or could the reason be that in front of the child, he just cannot put on his mask, and his insecurities surface? One interpretation is that because of his intelligence, he may have considered the possibility of forming an emotional connection with Eve through physical touch and wanted to avoid risking forming a connection. When we consider all his actions in the novel, we may think this thesis is very unlikely, but if we regard all these actions simply as his mask, it would be possible.

The conclusion I came to is that Davis knows exactly how to act in social settings and to say the right things people want to hear. He clearly has a god complex, but there is an inconsistency between his image and his true self. Even if his public persona is totally fake, the fact that he believes he is capable of fooling the whole world testifies to his complex.

A Supernatural Family Drama

by Joshua Gormanns

The novel Ghost Species by James Bradley on the surface seems like your stereotypical science fiction novel, dealing with the dangers of climate change and how humanity caused the problems and now tries its best to preserve the species. However, diving deeper into the novel, there are times the reader can easily forget those topics and the novel almost seems like a family drama with the slight change that the main character is not a homo sapiens, but a Neanderthal.

In the beginning, we get to know Jay and Kate, two scientists who are recruited by rich mogul Davis Hucken to work on a project for his Foundation. Their task is to revive the lost species of the Neanderthals. They succeed and when the first Neanderthal baby Eve is born, Kate soon forms a bond with her. One night Kate, who has ethical problems with keeping Eve like a lab rat, decides to take the baby and leave her old life behind to live a secluded life with Eve while hiding from the foundation.

After Kate takes Eve the novel shifts in tone and topic. We only hear about scientific topics and the problems of the world through the news, while we basically read a family drama. We see the first years of Eve’s life through the eyes of Kate. We see how Kate struggles with the situation, always in fear of being caught by the foundation and getting Eve taken away from her.

Although not much really happens during this time, to me this is the most interesting part of the novel. I think the author manages to portray Kate’s character very well. We become familiar with her past trauma which shaped her and although she does not practice as a scientist anymore, we can still see the scientist in her. The way she observes every situation and how everything is described, the reader can see her scientistic approaches. This becomes very clear when Eve interacts with Sami, the son of a friend of Kate. Kate acts as an observer, comparing Eves and Sami’s physical attributes, psychological attributes, and the way they develop.

When Eve and Kate are taken by the foundation again the narrative does not return to scientific topics but rather keeps focus on Kate and Eve’s personal problems. After Eve is told about her real identity, the perspective shifts to her. We learn about her insecurities, about how she avoids other people due to her difference in appearance and her slow articulation. We witness her teenage years and eventually how she has to take care of her dying mother while the world around her seems to end.

All in all, I think that it was a good choice by the author to focus more on the two main characters instead of the science fiction plot. Especially focusing on Eve was a great choice because the reader gets to know her differences but also her similarities to homo sapiens. We get to know how she questions herself, feels insecure, and how she in the end can look after herself and go as far as to travel around the whole world finding other Neanderthals.

Ethics of De-extinction

by Anonymous

When reading the title Ghost Species, your first associations probably include the general image of ghosts or the novel could even be assumed to be some kind of ghost story. Instead, the reader learns, within the novel’s first few pages, that the term ghost species describes the extinct human species of the Neanderthals. The creation or resurrection of an individual of this species is the main goal of quasi-antagonist Davis. Aside from that goal, he also has big plans for the resurrection of extinct animals. The abundance of different animal species that went extinct in the past can be understood as ghost species as well. This second interpretation of the novel’s title is maybe even more unsettling as it is generally more realistic as well as highly relevant. The loss of species is an urgent problem with the global rate of species extinction being thousands of times higher than it should be. The effects this has on the world´s ecosystems are serious and devastating. Of course, humans are to blame, as we have been and are currently destroying habitats through, among other things, deforestation, and pollution.

Davis recognizes this and plans to not only resurrect lost species but also implement them into certain ecosystems to stabilize them to make amends for humanity’s failures. Specifically, one of his plans is to bring back large herbivores like Mammoths and reintroduce them to the tundra to stop the spreading of forests. Aside from whether this de-extinction is actually scientifically possible there is also the question of whether it should be done for ethical reasons and if it would really yield the results Davis wants.

The resurrection and reintroduction of extinct species into nature contain several unpredictable factors. One concern would be that these animals could carry deadly diseases. Additionally, as they are only artificial creations by humans, it is very likely that the resurrected animals would physically be the same but behave in different ways. Many of the behaviors needed for these animals to yield the expected results could potentially be learned behaviors that the resurrected versions of these animals are not able to obtain. Another aspect which ties in with this is the fact that the habitats these animals used to live in were very different from how they are today as the environments and food sources have changed.

These are just some of the reasons which make it apparent that the resurrection of extinct species would not have the benefits Davis is hoping for at the beginning of the novel. Ecosystems are simply much too intricate and unpredictable to just throw a species in there and hope for the best as these reintroductions can have immense impacts both positively and negatively. Throughout the novel, we actually get to see this play out as Davis is successful in resurrecting and reintroducing wooly rhinos and mammoths into the tundra. As predicted, it backfires and “Davis`s efforts seem to be making things worse rather than better” (Bradley 169). One aspect that also ties in with this, which I have not yet touched upon is the moral one. Especially in the case of Davis, it feels very much like he is playing God and displaying his power when he could use his influence in other more reliable ways. Instead of fulfilling his megalomaniac visions, he could have used his resources to save species that are still on the brink of extinction or invest in more reliable ways of disaster relief. During the events of the novel, it is already way too late to hope for the resurrection of animals to make a sufficient difference.

“Images of woolly rhino and mammoth roaming across the empty landscape are increasingly blotted out by videos of melting ice and fires sweeping through the grasslands” (Bradley 141).

All of this leads us to a third way in which the title Ghost Species can be interpreted. Bradley makes it very clear that there will come a point when it is too late for humans to engineer themselves out of their self-made problems. If people are not willing to change something now, they will in the foreseeable future, just like they did with so many others, turn themselves into a ghost species.


Sumner, Thomas and Carey, Bjorn. “The ethics of resurrecting extinct species.” Stanford University, ScienceDaily, 8 April 2013

Gerretsen, Isabella. “One million species threatened with extinction because of humans” CNN, 2019