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A cross-[What] kind of romance?

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In the scientific taxonomy of Living Things, you have:

  • Life
  • Domain
  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class

etc. down to Species, and maybe thence to Breed.

If I were talking about my neighbor's dog who is half Chihuahua and half German Shepherd (no she is, really), I would say her parents had a "cross-breed romance." (they are both of the species Canis lupus familiaris)

If I were talking about a mule, I would say the mare and the male donkey had a "cross-species romance." (they are both of the genus Equus)

And so on and so forth up the improbable chain. In a science-fiction setting, you can cross a Vulcan and a Terran and have a viable hybrid child, even though they come from two different planets and shouldn't even share a Kingdom, let alone enough genetic similarities to breed.

But what's the "cross-" when you have a romance between biological life and non-biological life? For example, if Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine and the Emergency Medical Hologram had actually had a relationship? Or when Data dated Jenna D'Sora (TNG's "In Theory")? (The Holodoc is a software-based lifeform; Data is a hardware-based lifeform.)

I am establishing such a romance between two characters, and I've no idea what to call it. (Of course, figuring out what to call it may wind up in dialogue as part of establishing it, because they don't know what to call it either.)

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This is a tough question and it's been in my brain all day. I've been trying to really think about what separates these two groups, which I hoped would lead me to what brought them together. At first I was thinking about sentience, but it doesn't sound like you have a person falling in love with a rock, but instead robots (or something akin).

So then I was trying to move along the biological route:

  • Organic vs Inorganic
  • Natural vs Synthetic
  • Carbon vs Non-carbon

The hard part is of course not finding the differences, though, but where these differences would intersect. The groups these fall into (the [blank] in your cross-[blank]) are perhaps a bit generic:

  • Chemistry
  • Matter
  • Composition
  • Compound
  • Carbonality (this of course isn't a word, but it may be my favorite anyway)

Hopefully these at least might send you in the right direction.

Another I just thought of that is super-generic but might work with enough context is cross-composition.

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The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth, a closed (apart from solar and cosmic radiation), and self-regulating system.

I think, if we think in interplanetary terms instead of our little xenophobic terracentric little box, a biosphere can be defined as an entirety of lifeforms forming a closed system - usually inhabiting a planet.

A cross-biospheric romance then?

Another option would be cross-lifeform but that doesn't really restrict as far apart as much as 'biosphere' but may encompass lifeforms that don't happen to live as parts of biospheres (a unique pan-universal deity?)

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How about a "cross-lifeform" romance or

"cross-sentient-being" romance?

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I'm not familiar with this "domain" level in taxonomy. That must be a new idea since I was in school. Of course Linnaeus originally defined the kingdom as the highest level, and he identified three kingdoms: plants, animals, and minerals. When I was in school I was taught that biologists debated whether things like fungi should not be broken out into a separate kingdom, etc.

If you had interbreeding between an animal and plant -- however one imagines that might be possible! -- that would be "cross-kingdom".

If someone managed to create a holographic life form or a mechanical life form, to my mind that would qualify as another kingdom. It seems to me that the difference between plant and animal would be analagous to the difference between either and holographic life.

It's hard to say where aliens would fit in the existing taxonomy. Would they be similar enough to us that they could be considered new phyla, etc, in the existing kingdoms and classes? That seems unlikely to me. Whether you're supposing evolution or creation, either way I'd expect aliens from another planet to be more different from humans than, say, a bird or an octopus is different from humans. So maybe if we met aliens we'd create new kingdoms for them, or maybe we'd have to create another level, above kingdoms (or domains), one for "terran" and another for "vulcan" or whatever, and then have subdivisions within each.

As you're inventing the aliens or whatever these life forms are, I think it's up to you to decide where they fit in taxonomy. Consider both what you believe to be scientifically plausible and what works in the context of your story. Then just make something up.

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I assume that the object of affection is material and therefore based upon an element of our Periodic Table (although not Carbon).

Would the romance then be cross-elemental?

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Nonhomogeneous romance... ? Anthropomorphic romance... ? Technosexual romance... ?

Anthropomorphic technosexuality . . . God, that rolls off the tongue nicely. So many syllables. What a beautiful phrase. Cellar door be damned.

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