I was going to ask these questions to my brother, who is a scientist and also used to read Animorphs with me when we were kids, but he only answered some of them before going to bed, so I turn to you, the good people of the Toast.
1. I assume you are familiar with Clarke’s law of science fiction writing, which states in part that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” With this in mind, does the blue box that the Andalite uses to give Jake, Cassie, Rachel, Marco and Tobias their powers violate the law of the conservation of mass?
By which I mean: when Cassie morphs into an ant, for example, are we to understand that her Cassie-matter has merely been CONDENSED into ant-matter, or somehow wholly transformed?
I think you’re right on about the conservation of mass thing. Clearly hawk-Tobias can fly whereas non-hawk-Tobias cannot, and no hawk has the wing speed velocity to carry a human’s weight.
So to answer the question directly, some Cassie-matter must get stored somewhere – probably in that blue box.
2. When the Animorphs morph, they are often described as having to struggle against the “animal mind” they will share for the duration of the morph, suggesting that their particular consciousnesses remain intact despite whatever form their brain takes. Is this evidence that immaterial souls exist in the Animorphs universe, or is there a biological explanation for this?
I’m a little embarrassed to admit I used to think about that when I read these books. If you turn into the animal, doesn’t that mean you have its brain too? Clearly you can’t take your human brain with you into an ant. Maybe your mind gets to remote control the animal’s mind from safely within the blue box (that theory is becoming more and more appealing), but sometimes the connection isn’t so great and the animal mind starts winning.
3. Apparently some of the later Animorphs writers cooked up the idea of “Z-space” to account for the excess matter left behind while in morph. Does it make any sense to you? How does this matter get to Z-space? Is there some kind of Dewey Decimal system that ensures the proper matter is returned to the proper morpher at the proper time?
That sounds a lot like my idea, except that saying there’s a “dimension…where neither time nor space exist” is like saying you discovered a sound that doesn’t make any noise. Also, whoever wrote this article directly contradicts themselves by claiming Z-space has routes (i.e. through space) and that they take up to ten years (i.e. time) to travel. You shouldn’t have to invoke a new theory on black holes and singularity points just to be able to morph into a animal – really.
4. Is it really biologically possible for an eight-to-ten-foot-long centipede to exist? (I refer here to the Taxxons.) Isn’t the physical structure of an insect poorly suited for such a size?
That would be horrible – and not just because of the inefficiency of the exoskeleton at the size, but there would be waaaay too many legs for an eight-foot-long creature to keep track of. But maybe that’s why the voluntarily gave themselves up to the Yeerks.
5. Centipedes on earth are solitary creatures. What evolutionary reason would lead the Taxxons to form hive-like colonies on their home planet?
I started to look up the page on Taxxons in the Animorphs wiki to help me answer, but got distracted by how disturbing the artist’s rendition of an eight-foot flesh-eating centipede is. The more important question is if you were a Taxxon, why would you ever want to be around your own race?
6. (This was brought up by a reader.) DNA doesn’t have a timestamp on it. Wouldn’t the Animorphs be just as likely to transform into themselves-as-fetuses as themselves-as-they-currently-are when returning from a morph?
I was actually very disillusioned to learn about this in my post-Animorph years. I remember hearing that scientists had cloned a sheep using its DNA, and that the sheep had to start out as a fetus. That crushed my Animorphs-based understanding of DNA. But I’m glad that happened before I had to take high school biology.
7. Since morphing allows the user to heal him- or herself from injuries (not to mention spontaneously generating extra mass), could this technology be used to achieve immortality? Why has that not been made a priority among the Andalites?
That’s a good question. To be fair, if I had the power to spontaneously will myself into an eagle, I would be too distracted to worry about immortality.
8. From the Animorphs Wiki:
It was speculated that the DNA is stored inside the body within a small, molecular sphere, supercooled to sub-zero temperatures, lying dormant until called upon for a morph. Therefore, the body would be capable of holding much more than would ever be conceivably necessary to a morpher. This is wrong, however, as it is stated many times, most notably in Book #49: The Diversion, the DNA simply floats around in the blood system until called forth by the morphing technology.
This sounds plausible to me. Could that work?
All the human body can do to lower its temperature in any area is use evaporative cooling, so I don’t think it could keep the DNA balls sub-zero for very long. So maybe the floating DNA theory could work, as long as the liver/kidney know not to throw it out. Although I suppose that would mean there would have to be human DNA floating around when you’re an ant. I don’t think ants have bloodstreams that can hold human DNA.
9. Ax uses the Frolis Maneuver to create a human morph, essentially creating an entirely new, partially sentient human being, which exists only when he chooses to morph it. Has he developed a new type of asexual reproduction, or is this human form a mere shell?
I guess if you’re combining two humans’ DNA, that would be asexual reproduction. It’d be kind of fun for him to be able to see what people’s babies would look like without having to get them to voluntarily reproduce. A lot of combinations come to mind.
10. The rogue Animorph David once acquired Marco as a morph. When he morphs Marco, are there two Marcos, or only one? Tobias and Ax both morph Taxxons at one point; Taxxons are sentient, self-aware creatures, and yet they do not utilize the Frolis Maneuver. Does this mean they revive the individual Taxxon from death every time they use that morph? Would that not be remarkably similar to Yeerk behavior?
There would have to be one Marco with a David-soul (see question 2). I don’t know how that would affect the Taxxon situation though – aren’t the Animorphs being Yeerks over every animal they morph into? Maybe K.A. Applegate should have though through all these plot holes – she had to know her 9-year-old readers would grow up eventually.
11. Not technically scientific but such an enormous deal: What did Rachel do to David?
I would like to think she helped him assimilate into the mutant-rat world, and that things turned out to be not so bad in the end. Or that Tobias ate him.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.