1. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    Aliens and Sci-fi

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by gabriellockhart, Feb 2, 2010.

    This is for those who enjoy and frequently read and write science fiction and space opera.

    Do you end up creating a thousand alien races all generic and basic designed with only a racial name and a loose description or do you create a few really well designed races with plenty of history to them, focusing on just those few with in the story?

    myself i always go for the latter creating a few really well designed races that are story functional in terms of advanced fuzzy science.

    Plus what about magic in science fiction setting of advanced technology?
     
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  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't write those kinds of stories, so I have nothing to say about most of this. As for your last question, I have two words for you: Star Wars.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The science fiction I write doesn't rely heavily on alien races. I'm more involved in the human story. What nonhuman intelligent races I do create, I put a lot of effort into what they are now, not their history.

    Paradoxically, the more alien your race is, the more you need to look within it for the humanity. You may also have your human characters struggle to find that same humanity in them in order to try to understand them. At the same time, your aliens may struggle to understand the human in their way of thinking.

    Even if the aliens are at war with the humans, there will be a mutual need to understand the enemy, if only to try to predict their strategies and objectives.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    A couple of authors come to mind who create a universe with varied and diverse aliens are David Brin and James White, but even in these universes, the variety of aliens is central to the plot scaffolding, not just a menagerie of "extras" with which to decorate the set.
     
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  5. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    The thousands of races scenario you mention reminds me of Star Trek, where every episode they encounter a new race of humanoid alien's with little concern for their biology or history. While that makes for a great tv series, I don't think it works for good story writing.

    I suppose some stories might need 'extras' that could be aliens. But I tend to write these on the fly and don't give them much thought. In generally I go to excess generating histories, cultures, and biology for my aliens. Then I have the problem of trying not to info-dump all of it into the story just because I thought it up.
     
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  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Larry Niven has created a number of amazing alien races. Pierson's Puppeteers, Kzinti, Thrintun, Grogs, Moties, Outsiders, Kdatlyno, Bandersnatchi...
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Strange you mention info-dumping.

    One of the authors I mentioned, James White, got around the info-dump issue by staging his stories in an intergalactic hospital. His protags regularly info-dumped within dialogue, but they did so as part of their professional discourse as doctors which gave them a pass of sorts.

    David Brin did much the same thing, but his protags are not doctors and their dialogue is a little more, "Oh, look. A Reticulan Ponkiping. Did you know that they started their evolution as blah, blah, blah"

    Not as effective.
     
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  8. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    I think Nancy Kress did a nice job with the alien species in her book Crossfire. She came up with some truly unique aliens and had a lot of cool science to go along with them, not to mention the book was mostly about the humans being caught up in a war between two species, and you really can't tell which side is the "good" side.

    Other than that I don't read much Sci-fi or write it, so I'm not much help.
     
  9. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    I'd rather read/write about a few very detailed species rather than tons of pointless ones. One thing that kind of annoys me in the Star Wars books is that all of these new items, planets, people and races get introduced in one book and then are never seen again.
     
  10. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    What's most interesting alien you've came up with?
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my book, The Last Human War, characteristics of alien races were introduced slowly throughout the story, and by the end, they are well developed civilizations. The three main races...human, Heptari and Tanarac...were culturally and physically different. Humans and Tanaracs, while physiologically different, discover that they hold culturally compatible values and learn tolerance for each other as the story unfolds.

    You might find this interesting...here is the Alien description page from my website:

    http://www.lasthumanwar.com/Aliens.html

    Several other alien races get bit-part mention in the story, but are intentionally obscured as they are not important to the plot. One of them will become important and get much more development in the sequel.

    My favorite alien is the hicay (pronounced hi'-cay). This creature represents and "emerging sentience", a newly self-aware race that is just evolving from animal status to sentient race. While it is still regarded as a wild animal at the beginning of the story, by the end of the tale, the other races discover its amazingly complex culture and that it possesses the power of psychic communications to a greater degree than any of the advanced races.

    Hicays merge the raw power of a top predator with the ability to negotiate and work for the greater good of a community. It was a fun race to build!
     
  12. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    Your races are quality, it's nice to see high end sci-fi of which i am a fan.

    Thanks for letting me read them.
     
  13. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    One my created races still in its earlier working stages, still working on the details.

    Titans
    Life span 100.000 + (no titan has ever died of old age always falling in conflict)
    Home world titanakor (universal slang name Titan)
    Sexual maturity 15 years
    Pregnancy 19 months carried in a clutch womb in pairs
    Avg height 8 foot male 7 foot female
    Morphology male/female.
    Birth difference – 1 male to every 90 to 160 females
    Potential bio energy output – 500 petajoule’s (SI equivalent 60 terajoules = little boy h-bomb)

    Internal organs (head down)
    Brain (twin binary fan variant comprised of compressed grey, white and purple matter)
    All internal hormonal systems are kept in the spinal nervous system
    Clutches of redundant base cells for regeneration and self evolution of damaged parts
    Twin redundancy spinal nervous system
    Primary and secondary lymphatic system
    Bio energy chakra network (male only)
    Combat lungs plus resting lungs totalling four plus filter organ for combat lungs
    Twin eight chambered hearts plus tertiary basic heart
    Simplified digestive system. Utilising primary stomach and secondary stomach
    Triple lobed liver with enhanced regenerative capability
    Four kidneys and simplified bladder and urinary system.
    Six testicles kept internally female have a clutch womb and six ovaries.
    Muscular Skeletal system is comprised of an endoskeleton of ultra dense adamantine bone, tendon’s, cartilage and muscle, with exoskelatal protective plates.

    Notes
    A race augmented by the energy of the god nexus, they come from a ultra high gravity world with a surface gravity 500.000 times that of earth, they developed ultra dense bones and muscles as well as carapace, they are built for war and has such they are the most naturally powerful race in the universe, they have the best sight in the universe.
    They are led by a male sub species called praetors, these beings are vastly more powerful than an average female titan, they also posses the complex bio energy chakra network that all progeny posses, they are naturally fewer in number then the females. Titan’s posses multiple organs and secondary and tertiary redundancies for all major organs, titans have the most simple and powerful digestive system in the universe and are able to consume almost all organic matter regardless of condition with taste being irrelevant as titan’s lack taste buds and lacking nasal passages above their mouths. However their eyes are able to discern the EM spectrum from 1018 Hz to 1012 Hz enabling them discern x rays to IR spectrums of light.
    Male and female titan’s seemingly appear to be differing species making them most sexually dimorphic species in the exodian multiverse...on another note they are incapable or interbreeding with other species and after the great wars of solus the females have been rendered infertile due to the complex nanovirus created by the Correlian syndicate, dooming the race to extinction, predicted within the next 100.000 years. Titan females are considered equal to the male in every respect.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your titans will have a severe overpopulation problem.
     
  15. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    No, not really they are an incredibly aggressive race that live on an violent death world, so they have death rates comprable to birth rates, under one king they built there numbers to a massive level but where defeated in a massive universal war and now they teeter on the edge of extinction on the fringes of universal society.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's inconsistent with:
    Unless that's their average lifetime in hours.

    I have to be honest - this race seems to have been written up by throwing numbers and attributes at a wall. There's no thought (apparently) given to the relationship between traits, nor do the physical attributes of your planet make much sense to me.
     
  17. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    Nope years and they aren't even the longest lived race in the universe-

    Nhere population at its peak was 6 trillion Titan's before the war now there numbers are less then a thousand with no possibility of return.

    The longest lived race are the god like Progeny with a lifespan measuring in millions of years, the oldest on record being a grand 89 million years old.

    Which is still childlike compared to the ageless gods whose age is set in trillions of years before they created time.

    This is balanced by races that live only in short spans of 40 or 50 years.

    And in case you're wondering Humans live to the age of 130 with genomods, cyberword or gene work up to a maximum of 600 with mods.

    With a universal populace of 529 quadrillion over seven galaxies, an alternate dimension with 24 discovered mortal sentient races some created by these as well and 4 nearly extinct god forged races of which the titans and progeny are.
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm. I have an issue with the "incredibly aggressive race living on a death world" dynamic.

    I was chatting with one of my friends just a bit ago about an issue I had with Larry Niven's Pak protectors. He wrote them as such a violent race that it was exceedingly improbable that they would even survive to achieve sentience.

    Human's aren't as violent as the race you mention and we've had our finger hovering over "the button" more than once.

    How does your race survive?
     
  19. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    They eat, drink, and crap violence. j/k

    No, I could see a species this aggressive surviving if their world were proportionately more dangerous. But you’re right, it would need some explaining
     
  20. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    Well their sentiance was created by a god, before they where utterly brutal no more then animals. altered for the purpose of re-adressing a universal imbalance created by god.

    God = good and all it created was good and pure, perfect order.

    Pure good is imperfect so the order could not be balanced, not balanced on a universal scale so evil was created along with destruction.This race was created to represent that so they and their world became impossible to exist naturally...

    Over the encompassing billions of years of their own evolution after god died and technology and mortal races appeared they kept going until they fought a war against the entire universe and lost badly.

    To keep explaining would be horribly confusing and takes up endless pages of history and universal ages of ancient races made at the dawn of time by god and the pantheon of gods that he became.

    The gist of the first four races is that they supersede the laws of nature and normal evolutionary paths, they are impossible godlike to races like humans.

    So put simply once they where intelligent and artful. non violent and their world was a beautiful paradise, then they we're devolved into violent monsters and their world altered followed by them being re-evolved into the Titans.

    Sorry if it doesn't make much sense it isn't meant to, the work of gods and all that above natural selection and evolution.
     
  21. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    :eek:

    I'm not sure which conversation I've stumbled into, but every time I talk about God I get in trouble with someone.


    Addressing the OP: be careful not to let the fluff like alien races overtake the most important element, the story. Without a story who cares what alien races you've made up.

    That being said, I love making alien races, it's alot of fun.:D Try to get away from stereotypical stuff and humanoids, chances are aliens will look nothing like a human and not even like anything living on our planet.

    Then again, especially in space opera, humanoid races are expected and welcomed, it's an homage to the classics and it has a pretty good deal of commercial potential.

    Either way, you can't do wrong, there's no scared cow in SF when it comes to aliens, but the hardcorps hard SF fans like inventive aliens. Most critics praise writers who can make convincing and unique aliens.


    Look into "Wayne Douglas Barlowe's guide to extraterrestrials"

    It's actually an art book with some of the most famous aliens of SF lit illustrated, but it's full of info on them too. Golden stuff for any SF writer.
     
  22. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    Nah don't worry about mentioning god i'm not religious...and god in my work has nothing to do with religion. save for what human's discern from it.

    But i kind OF creating go for fantasy ideals and then transpose them to an ultra futuristic setting. but yeah the alien's serve a purpose with in a complex story.

    Sort of creating a science fantasy that leans towards space opera... combining my love of both the fantasy genre and space opera's.
     
  23. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel "science" should dictate race evolution. Higher gravity of a large planet should influence certain physical characteristics of the species that evolve there. An arid planet would produce very different survival/evolutionary features than would be found on a wet planet. Same with the tidal effects of a large moon, or seasons on a planet that rotates on a tilted axis. Many Earth species have developed characteristics related to moon phase and seasonal temperature variations. Even if a "God" provided the species with sentience, they would have evolved up to that point based on the science associated with their environment.

    My races display physical attributes that reflect their worlds. For example, Tanaracs are tall and thin, having evolved on an Earth-like world. They have a "helper" heart in their pelvic area to assist in returning blood from lower extremities, due to their thin build and extraordinary height.

    Here's another little tidbit (sneak preview) about my Tanarac race, one that will come out in the sequel. They are not bisexual, like humans. Tanarac males and females deliver their respective "seed" into a third party, known as a "Tri-genus" who actually carries the baby during the gestation period.

    In ancient times, this third member of the tri-sexual race lived in a special place at the center of each village, usually under the protection of the town's priest. Villages treated these essential beings as cherished possessions and wars were fought to capture "Tri-genus wards". Couples would select a "birther" (the common term for a Tri-genus) and procreation would occur after the couple paid a fee to the priest. The resulting baby was released to the parents after the female began producing milk...her milk would "drop" after being stimulated by the baby's rooting. The birther would train the mother in care for the child and provided supplemental nursing until the mother's milk reached full richness. Then, the Tri-genus entered a six month period of isolation and healing before being returned to the pool of "ripe" birthers.

    In modern times, birthers have gained rights as equal citizens and live in protected childbirth centers where labor, delivery and early infant nutrition are carefully managed by highly trained medical staff. The institutions are government supported and free to all couples with fewer than two children. High fees charged for "excess" offspring discourage people from having more than two children, and Tanarac enjoys a zero population growth in its highly populated worlds. In new space colonies, where population growth is desired, the restriction is lifted.

    This is just a small peek into my Tanarac "world" as description expands to fit the plot in my sequel. I have similar evolution-based characteristics for each of my alien species that will appear in my next edition. Each set of descriptions must fit a need within the plot. For example, what will happen when one of my humans falls in love with a Tanarac? Can Tanarac and human physiology produce a viable offspring? Will they work with a Tri-genus? More important, will any Tri-genus accept mating with a human?
     
  24. gabriellockhart
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    gabriellockhart Member

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    i never though about a tri-gendered race, i have mono-gendered and non-gendered races, though.

    It does but i wrote a distinct difference between naturally evolved like us and most of my races, using convergant and parallel evolution to explain why some races are bipedal and share human like traits, such as two legs, arms etc.

    But there are distinct brackets that supersede natural science, such has mystical evolution by a creator like a god referred to as gifting (this can be done on any scale) or self evolution through advanced science such as cybernetics or genetic modification to elemental evolution in alternate dimensions or going a step further chaos evolution which doesn't follow any natural law in anyway shape or form.

    For the most part in my story everything is normal with normal life spans and breeding cycles on normal scientifically viable worlds and evolutionary patterns, but there are these blips that go beyond the normal, oddities and immortals, things that within a heavily scientific universe give the impression of the supernatural, that even 20.000 years in the future there is still mystery.

    sorry about the quoting NaCl, i haven't figured out how to quote on forum's just yet.
     
  25. HeinleinFan
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    I develop the aliens in my stories reasonably thoroughly, although not all the details are set in concrete. (I'm a bio major, so I tend to dicker around a lot with aliens before settling on a design I feel works biologically. I also tend to use Earth life as a model.)

    The main societies I use in the Confederation-verse are the human-colonizers, the countries on Earth, the Confederation, and occasional Intelligent Animal societies which the Confederation steers clear of except for cautious trade.

    I speculated: What is civilization? What does it mean when you're trying to maintain one with numerous species, each with their own dietary and social and physical and psychological needs? How do you construct a morality system to fit them all?

    The Confederation was the answer. They don't try to convert other species. They don't try to establish first contacts with new races. Instead, they wait for other species to join (if they choose) and they regulate immigration, judging applicants on behavior. The rough designations are Animal, Intelligent Animal, Surrendered Animal, Potential Person, and Person.

    Animals can be eaten. (Deer, birds, cows, snakes, bugs...) Intelligent Animals are beings that can speak and build and learn and explore, but which are not able to coexist easily with People. (The Kzinti would count. A serial killer would count.) Surrendered Animals are animals that are part of a Person's household, either through direct surrender (a serial killer giving himself up to the police under condition that he won't be harmed) or through tradition. (Pet Animals would be considered Surrendered Animals, a valid part of the society.) Potential People are creatures trying to integrate into the Confederation. People are beings who have been born into and raised within the Confederation.

    The rough list of creatures which have, at one time or another, been accepted as People within the Confederation include humans, hollal, wheedles, and nintalbok. As of the first stories I've written in that world, there are very few human People, a helluva lot of nintalbok and wheedles, and a few thousand hollal distributed across three planets and another three satellite colonies. I haven't worked out the details, but I believe there is another race that is a major part of the Confederation but which only lives on one of the colonies -- call that species the kaheeheehees for now.

    The hollal, or Savants, are large predators, the size of a pony or small horse. They have flat hooves below and to the side of their manipulative digits, which will kill you deader than stink if they hit you right. (It's partially the stunning thwap that does you in, but the hooves will cut you if you get hit in soft tissue.) They wait, work out a trajectory, sprint, and cut your legs as you run away. (Some Earth creatures trip, so this works as a viable hunting mechanism.) They were genetically engineered for brilliance, particularly in mathematics and memorization, and they are well-suited for cyborg-ish computer linkages to a network.

    The hollakim, or leader-caste, hollal, are not genetically engineered and are not very reasonable. The hollakim are considered Intelligent Animals. They are not friendly.

    Wheedles are something like squirrels -- they climb and are most comfortable in trees, although they can scamper. They are omnivores but have a preference for meat. They are mammaloids, with scaly skin and hairlike feathers; the prey animals from their world are similar. Wheedles are small, the size of a large rabbit on up to the size of a medium dog. (These last would be considered absolutely frocking huge, like a seven-foot-tall woman in our society.) Their natural lifespan is between 9 and 24 years. The long-lived variants inbreed to keep that trait, and acted as historians and advisors before the kaheeheehees began to explore their world.

    The nintalbok are herbivores -- browsers, originally, before they turned to agriculture some few thousand years ago. They eventually made it to large cities and high technology, then leapt to the stars. Those which met up with the Confederation tentatively joined.

    ... and with that, it's late and I'd have to look up the stories I wrote to get the other species. Enough, then.
     

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