Unfortunately, fictional beauty must bow to supportable fact. Present to me a factual method by which nonsentients can use tools as sophisicated as spacecraft, and we will talk.
:snickers: ... well... technically it remains to be seen wether humanity is actually "sentient" or rather intelligent enough to develop interstellar space-travel of some form before the constraints of our growth driven societies clash with the limitations of our ecosystem in a catastrophic way... for that matter it also remains to be seen how any kind of fictional concepts of faster than light travel would compare to actual reality.
You seem to take a lot for granted, yet quite arbitrarily decide what kind of "fictional speculation" is worthy in your eyes and which not, which of course is quite ironic considering the ongoing philosophical debates about the nature of our own conscience and free will (or if somenthing like free will even exists objevtively) and even the nature of reality (see constructivism - is reality what "is" or is it merely what we "perceive" - after all our perception of reality have changed quite a bit over the course of history eh... ) it's quite ironic that you would limit your viewpoint on what "intelligence" or "sentience" might be so dramitically.
Frankly... i find it quite amusing that one would impose the limits of our existence on fictional alien life, while the properties of our own existence and perception of reality are anything but certain,
and even if you assume the Shivans evolved like any other race (which is a quite huge assumption not based on any kind of fact at all) then we would still be looking at a gulf of potentially millions of years of evolution.
Just looking at how human life evolved on earth or even just at how our societies evolved in a comparably utterly insignificant couple of thousand years... i believe kinda demonstrates just how huge a leap of faith it would be to assume the Shivans might still really "tick as we do" somehow. Aside from merely biological matters, the concept of evolution has become the foundation of several of the leading sociological theories as well, and heck... if you go even just a couple of hundred years back you find mostly societies still based more or less on faith and individuals with little regard of maximizing any kind of benefits in "this life". The modern mindset and perception of self is actually just that, quite modern and novel ... and no doubt it will be just a stepping stone on the path of future evolution as well.
We know a stone is a stone and that it falls to the ground if you drop it... but what a stone was in Newtons time is quite different than what the "concept" of stone and gravity have become in modern day.
If we talk science fiction, you have to acknowledge the fact that our perception of ourselves as well as what constitutes "sentience" or society may change just as radical in the future, especially if we ever actually meet an "alien" sentience to contrast our own with (that hopefully will be more benevolent as the Shivans, but thats another story
At least i would hope we would evolve and not regress into some sort of "human superiority/dominance" complex that discounts any kind of sentience that doesn't fit into the tight corsett of "human sentience".
In a way, you could of course see the Shivans as a potential endpoint of an evolution of a society that over Millions of years lost any kind of sense of value for anything other than growth and expansion as a whole, i.e. as a "race". It might be intriguing if viewed as a mirror of our own societies obsession with growth, but ultimately i would be worried of how close to a cliche of an extrapolation of Nazi ideology it would be (i.e. a society obsessed not just with growth, but with its own exclusiveness and superiority over all others as well) The Shivans as an evolution of Nazis ?
LOL Feel free to discuss.
I would still contend that General Battutas viewpoint is much more intriguing as it avoids the usual trappings of Sci-Fi and its most overused cliches much better