Almost Real Symbiotes

This month, I started work on a piece for issue 3 of Almost Real, the biannual speculative biology zine. The theme through the issue is undersea creatures, so even though I’d wanted to work on previous issues and hadn’t really been able to, this one made me sweat. And then they shared the assignment list.

One of the available assignments was symbiosis. So I started falling all over myself to do it, and now I am! And I’m really happy about it. There are going to be a few developmental sketches before it comes together, with the final appearing first in the magazine, itself.

Initial rough sketches. Nothing has a name yet, as I haven’t figured out who has named them. Nonetheless, basic physiology and some of the life cycle stuff are worked out.

There are two sorts of symbiosis going on here. One is that C1, a filter feeder, acts as gills for C2, which makes C2 a particularly fast creature for the environment due to the prevalence of coboglobin as an oxygen-carrying metaloprotein. We use hemoglobin, which uses iron, and it wears out before getting reused and then excreted. Coboglobin wears out much faster, which means that animals in this environment are cautious with their energy expenditure. C2 can be a much more active predator than most other creatures in its ocean because C1 swaps itself out, essentially swapping batteries rather than waiting for them to charge. C1, meanwhile, gets dragged through the water for both breathing and filter-feeding purposes, then gets dropped off with its worn-out coboglobin, spreading itself across the deep-sea vents.

The other level, I haven’t gone into yet. That’s for a future post.

What are heroes like in The Fifth World? Absent sedentary, agrarian life, how do their culture heroes demonstrate the values of their society?
I wonder what Fifth Worlders have to say about symbiosis. I bet they think about it a lot.

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