1. Artemus19
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    Artemus19 Member

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    Alien Species: Worth the risk?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Artemus19, Apr 16, 2015.

    Here's a dilemma that I've been working on ever since my first words hit the page for my original story. Should I add Aliens??? Here's a specific reason why I had added them and then taken them out: At first, they were there as a means to an end because they were known for their ability to find ancient artifacts and restore their power to do ungodly things with them, such as harvest planets, create and destroy matter, and even convert life into multiple forms. There was one such artifact I called "The Water Matrix" simply because it had the power to restore life in brilliant (and vibrant ways.) But since removing this to make the story more about humanity and less about outside entities and subjects, I haven't found a use for aliens. But my biggest issue is finding an enemy. I know a lot of popular science fiction today relies on Alien adversaries for the majority of the plot. Look at titles like Halo, and Prey (the video game.) Star Wars, on the other hand, has an assimilated feature with alien races that resemble humanity very closely. I've been looking into making a human approach to war since it seems very likely. So I guess my question is: Under what circumstances would an alien race be applicable for a story that is heavily grounded in humanity?
     
  2. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    Sometimes I like to break down the idea that there is really any difference between humans and aliens at all - after all, if there is a race of aliens of a similar intelligence to us then wouldn't they have the same dilemmas, both morally and in society? Because no race is perfect. So aliens can, in a way, be a nice little way of representing human society. If I ever have aliens in my stories I try to treat them exactly as I would with humans, of course allowing for physical differences.

    And in terms of finding an enemy... well, the greatest evil in the known world is simply humans...
     
  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you look at Star Trek, all aliens are merely aspects of humanity.
     
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  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's not just Star Trek. It's for a reason beyond the need to portray them with human actors. Aliens are used to represent human traits while making other aspects distinctly non-human, primarily to say something about that human aspect.

    A completely, inscrutably alien race really doesn't make a very good story, unless their role is not as a species at all, but as an obstruction or threat in an abstract sense.

    So is an alien race worth it? yes, if it is designed correctly to meet your story's special requirements.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum. :superhello:
    So I'm confused. You removed one artifact or all the artifacts?

    The way you are describing this aspect I think it depends on where you go with the rest of the story.

    Is the story about war or is it about "harvest planets, create and destroy matter, and even convert life into multiple forms. There was one such artifact I called "The Water Matrix" simply because it had the power to restore life in brilliant (and vibrant ways.)"? Because those seem like two completely different stories.
     
  6. Artemus19
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    Artemus19 Member

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    It's specifically about a war started by human factors but originally the artifact was supposed to be a piece to the puzzle of my main character. Essentially it's a bridge between her and the alien species (more like spirits). I figured it would be an interesting twist, but I wasn't sure it made sense so I continued without the concept to avoid confusion later.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Already I am leery of them being in your story. I'm being terribly pedantic in saying this, and perhaps it's just a casual turn of phrase, but you shouldn't add anything to a story that doesn't belong there, if you get my meaning.

    I don't see why this isn't something that couldn't be done by humans.

    And now we come to the meat of the question. As many others have already stated, the "alien" is never really an alien. The alien is always us. Always. They represent different facets of the human condition, often the facets we find uncomfortable, inconvenient, difficult to discuss, difficult to own up to, and so on. Even the xenomorph from the ALIEN franchise is part of the human condition. It is our callousness and our ugliness. It is war and murder and rape and horror... and all of those things are things that humans do. The xenomorph is a distilled truth that makes lies of our ideals and aspirations. It is uncompromising and relentless, and it's also very real. If you are a fan of the franchise, the most important undlerying thread to the story is that no matter how noble or heroic Ripley is, the xenomorph never leaves her. She takes it to the grave like a messiah in one film, only to be reborn in the next film, giving birth to the xenomorph from her very body. It's not just a random crazy alien. It has something to say about us.

    It's always applicable. That's not the real question. The real question is when to use the alien as a tool of the story and when not to. And if you are going to use the alien, what are you trying to say with them?
     
  8. Comrade_Soviet
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    Comrade_Soviet New Member

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    My only issue with something like that is making them seem too human. I mean different cultures on just earth can have some pretty radical differences in ethics, practices, etc. And if the alien race evolved in a completely different way from humanity it wouldn't make sense for them to act just like us. That was an issue I had with Mass Effect, where the aliens all just seemed far too human.
     
  9. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Eh, eh eh eurghh, hmmmmm...more...'
     
  10. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Humans who crossed over with alien dna?

    MC could even have a loved one who is now 'alien'

    They could be human but something, creepy and untrustworthy about them
     
  11. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    Like @Cogito and @Wreybies mentioned, most of the times aliens are a reflection of humanity. So if your biggest issue with a story without aliens is that you can't find an enemy, I suggest you don't use them. You already seem reluctant to introduce aliens to your story, since you know it best, don't use them if you will feel more comfortable that way.

    Instead of having an alien as the enemy, you could introduce the element of betrayal.
    For example: one of the characters gets a hold on an ancient artifact (which you could then re-introduce in the story),
    and decides to oppose the protagonist with his new power.
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Here's my advice: don't add aliens for the sake of adding aliens. As others have said here, aliens are often used to critique/analyze what makes us humans. The aliens of Babylon 5, while completely different than us in appearances in a lot of ways also exhibited things that were very much like us. They remind us that it's arrogance to assume we're the only living thing in the universe, that we're the god-like beings we often think we are (to be fair, we aren't exactly at fault since we know of no other race other than humans who can do what we do...yet. The smartest non-human on Earth is as smart as our toddlers.)

    "I haven't found a use for aliens" tells me that you probably shouldn't include them yet. You can have a sci-fi without aliens. I think Battlestar Galactica is an example of a sci-fi sans alien races.
     
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