This is a list of various resources relating to astrophysics, astrobiology, speculative evolution and space that I have found particularly useful. If you know of any other useful resources then please let me know in the comments and I may add them to my list.
These are books that I am currently reading and have found useful for world building. At present there is a bias towards the exoplanet and astrobiology area as that is where I started. This will likely change going forward. Where possible they are Amazon affiliate links, so I have to state that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I don’t expect to make any significant income from this with such a niche and non-commercial audience. Perhaps it would cover the electricity my computer uses while typing the posts though…
- Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space*
- Astrobiology: Understanding Life in the Universe*
- Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System*
- Exoplanets: Hidden Worlds and the Quest for Extraterrestrial Life*
- Habitable Exoplanets: Red Dwarf Systems Like TRAPPIST-1*
- Imagined Life: A Speculative Scientific Journey Among the Exoplanets in Search of Intelligent Aliens, Ice Creatures, and Supergravity Animals*
- The Planet Factory: Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth*
There are many speculative evolution projects both ongoing and defunct scattered across the internet. However, here are some of the most comprehensive ones that I am aware of.
- Planet Aether: How might life evolve on a world with a gravity of 2 times that of Earth’s and an atmosphere eight times denser than that of our own?
- Furaha: A world (with an associated blog) where the biomechanics of locomotion has been considered in great depth.
- Ilion: Life on a tidally locked world where animals became “plants” which then became “animals” again.
- Nereus: A comprehensive world with a detailed phylogenetic tree and examples from several biomes.
- Serina: A terraformed moon populated by only a single terrestrial vertebrate, the domestic canary.
- Snaiad: This focuses on the “vertebrate” clade which evolved from a sea cucumber like organism and has two very different “heads”.
As with all other topics, there are undoubtedly many videos on YouTube of relevance to world building and speculative evolution. Here are some specific channels which contain more than a few videos of interest.
- Artifexian: A channel covering many world building topics with many videos discussing planetary systems.
- Biblaridion: This channel also covers a range of world building topics but the ongoing “Alien Biospheres” playlist is a very comprehensive discussion on speculative evolution.
- Charles Cockell: Charles Cockell is a professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and he recently published a series of short talks entitled “Life in the Universe Pandemic Series”.
- Isaac Arthur: A interesting channel that focuses more on futurism and space colonisation with a few videos on planetary habitability.
- Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell: A selection of videos explaining a range of topics included astrophysics and some biology.
- Melodysheep: Several visually impressive videos on the topic of the possibility of alien life somewhere in the universe.
Many of the links above will contain the work of the associated artists, but here are some further links from artists showcasing speculative evolution or creature design. While it is not acceptable to just take someone else’s work and claim it as your own, it is valid to gain inspiration from other work.