The Unikan provide a fascinating commentary on interspecies communication and sociopolitical differences across time and space. In many cases, they provide an example of how humankind could come together eventually, though it is unlikely we could integrate on the same scale as the Unikan.
The Unikan (pronounced YOO-ni-khan) were first encountered in the year 103 AU, or 2208 CE. They are similar in proportions to humans, though shorter and thinner. They are mammalian and communicate and behave very similarly to humans. When first encountered, the Unikan baffled human diplomats with their universal equality and physical similarities, as well as their extremely successful socialist society. As the diplomats and the Unikan began to communicate, however, they discovered quite a bit of common ground.
The Unikan had a history much like the human race: for much of their existence, they fought wars based on various religions, over differences in race, and over issues of classism. However, what differed between the Unikan and humans was the approach they took in coming together. The Unikan came up with a language, which they called “Katakan” (KHAT-a-khan), which was a constructed international auxiliary language, much like Esperanto on Earth. However, unlike Esperanto, Katakan took off almost immediately, partially due to the insistence of many governments on their world. As such, diplomacy became both easier and more common. As the language barriers fell, so too did other barriers. As couples of different races began to propagate, race barriers began to fall away, which was only theorized to be possible on Earth and had been theory since the early 21st century CE. At some point, it was declared that the Unikan would be a wholly peaceful people working for their own collaboration, leading to a socialist utopia only dreamt of by some.
It is only fair to mention that the Unikan had a very different set of circumstances from Earth and humankind; their gestation period for birth was significantly shorter, so overpopulation was a very real concern. Likewise, the planet they inhabited originally was much smaller in size than Earth. Part of the adoption of these various changes was to ensure their continued existence, as well as out of fear of war or mutually-assured destruction wiping them out. It is also crucial to note that the Unikan faced a devastating plague that eliminated a large portion of the population around the mid-21st century CE, so attempting to recreate the results the Unikan created naturally would be nearly impossible.
What is interesting to note about the Unikan is that their closeness with one another led to an idea of loneliness in the universe. When first encountered, there was difficulty in understanding the Unikan. As there was only one race, the word “Unikan” came to mean the species and the people, as well as the idea of intelligent species entirely. As best we can tell, this myopic view of the universe dates back to the creation of Katakan, which would be the equivalent of the 17th century for humankind in the progression of the Unikan. Likewise, the only word for “language” was Katakan; since generations upon generations had only spoken Katakan, it was impossible to know if any other language existed. This, of course, led to misunderstandings by translators; it would be akin to asking a human what English they spoke.
Though the Unikan are obviously quite interesting and worthy of our attention for their sociological intricacies, little is known about them. Due to the distance required to travel and the lack of any original languages, much of their original folklore, prose, and other works are either lost forever or butchered by the Katakan translation. As such, we may never truly know why the Unikan are the way that they are, or the details of what events led them to their current state. However, they remain a wonderful example of the different paths intelligent life can take through the centuries.
Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.
© 2015; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.