I was watching Star Wars: Clone Wars episode 2.7, "Legacy of Terror," and, as usual, am skeptical about insectile sentient beings ("insectoids"). As discussed in my past insectoids post, the anatomical structure of insects precludes them from obtaining great size. Although, there are instances were they could obtain larger size: a humid, oxygen rich atmosphere, or water environment. A dry environment like Genosia is not a likely habitat. However, universal biology will allow for a great range of diversity - insectile creatures on other planets may have some similarities to Earth insects, but they may well have differences, especially if they were able to evolve to high level (i.e., technological using) sentience.
But my main query from watching the episode is one of the several topics I keep returning to: hive cultures. The Genosians have a queen, who spawns the entire civilization, much as an ant queen spawns all the members of her colony. This raises some questions.
Would one queen for an entire planetary civilization even make sense? Many separate colonies ensures the species as a whole survives because a) if an accident or disease strikes down one queen, only her colony dies, the others survive and b) one queen, even if constantly laying eggs, can not hope to produce as many offspring as multiple queens. But as a species evolves to higher order sentience, it is possible that they can eventually go against biological logic: and one queen becomes dominant - eradicating all others. Sentient beings do not always have to make "natural" sense (as we humans have shown repeatedly).
Why always a queen? Even the Borg eventually has a "queen." Why can not a species have a male king who is the only one that spreads his genetic material. Much like a queen sits around constantly (24/7) producing eggs, a king could be doing not much more than just fertilizing female eggs.
If a queen, or a king, is primarily involved in replenishing the species, would they really have that much control over their subjects? Lower species control via instinct and chemical signals. Higher species may be able to fight instincts - an underground, at first, resistance to the monarchy. A non-queen individual could have a mutation that reduces the queen's influence on them. For a lower species, that probably not pose much of a threat to the queen, but for a higher level sentient species, it may prove to be a major threat.
And, I wonder, what kind of theologies would a hive-minded sentient culture develop?
Image credit: Animation Factory