1. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    Aliens in sci fi novels

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by afrodite7, Jan 1, 2013.

    -Okay,so I have aliens in my stories.But the thing is ,most of them have something humanoid about them ,at least in appearance.This comes from my belief that our planet had certain conditions that allowed us to thrive and exist and become intelligent (term I use loosely) creatures.This comes from research on how the brain and body interacts and how motor functions,etc are divided...
    at any rate,i didn't just think of stuff just because it's cool,but actually plotted out the planets so that the species match the planet's geography.I also wanted it to be important to the plot that all aliens are compatible with one another.

    There's also the whole fact that I think it;d be hard for people (at least for me) to empathize with a talking ,telekinetic squid with nine eyes...and things like that.


    Thoughts on this?
     
  2. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    It's totally fine. People empathize with massive tubes of blubber that roam the oceans and eat squid, so I don't think it's impossible to have strange aliens as characters.
     
  3. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Hard sci-fi fanatics sometimes object to overly hominid aliens, but generally accept it as a necessary evil. Soft sci-fi fans, from what I've noticed, are more open to such things so long as the story's compelling.

    Unless it's essential to the story (ie the characters are, themselves, looking to answer the question), I would avoid excessive explanation of how the aliens have some human characteristics. Hard SF fans will try to poke holes in the idea, while soft SF fans will say "blah, blah - get to the good stuff!"

    -Frank

    ps: Who's to say that they look similar to *us*? Maybe they would consider us to be sorta like them, but we still have some animalistic traits.
     
  4. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    If you're after the sci-fi market specifically, it can actually help to have non-humanoid characters. However, if you want to appeal to a wider generally non-sci-fi savvy readership, then the more humanoid they are the more likely readers will relate to them. I've gone for human-looking but not actually human for my novels mainly for that reason.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider at least on earth convergent evolution--animal species that evolve totally isolated, but end up with similar characteristics to fill a niche. The tasmanian wolf (thylacine) and canines would be an example. This could easily explain aliens being supervidially similar to humans.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, Terry, I don't agree. All terrestrial life arises from the same biochemical and genetic origins and essentially the same environment, so many of the similarities arise from reuse of the same basic blueprints. Even among terrestrial life, there are still many surprising variations.

    Extraterrestrial life will probably follow completely different biochemistries, in environments that differ greatly from anything humans could survive in. Many other structures could work as well or better than laterally symmetric bipeds and quadrupeds, with a clustered control/sensory processing organ in an exposed extrusion.
     
  7. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    The classic way to get away with humanoid lifeforms 'evolving' on other worlds is to go for some kind of DNA 'seeding' idea - rather like the Star Trek - The Next Generation episode 'The Chase' or the recent film 'Prometheus'. Entirely independent humanoid evolution is highly improbable, based on current levels of what we know of life on Earth and our general understanding of the universe.
     
  8. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Speculation on how alien species would evolve is kind of a pointless endeavor, since we have nothing to go off to really make assumptions.

    Back to the OP though, design your aliens the way you want, and in a way that best serves the story. Since how aliens would be is all speculation anyway, you're free to speculate in the direction you choose!
     
  9. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    As long as you take yourself seriously, or not so seriously depending on the type of story, the reader will accept your aliens. It's your story, and as others have told you, it's really a matter of how you writ
     
  10. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    Well I am back from a long hiatus...

    People fret over this one too much. Just take the out I did. Most races are NOT remotely humanoid. But those same races evolved in places so ALIEN that humans cannot live there so such peoples don't interact with humanity much. The glowing gas-filled jellyfish that lives in the crushing depths of venus-style worlds are not going to zip over to grab a bite to eat in the low-gravity no-pressure bistro. Assuming such food is not a deadly poison or just indigestible that is. Races that are similar to one another simply have MORE REASON TO INTERACT. If for no reason other than they both could live on one particular world without the need to terraform it. Ie there is more room that lovley CONFLICT that drives a story.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Quite true, Crimson. Even if the world is nearly terrestrial in temperature and atmosphere, the biochemical basis of life can still be radically different. That can mean very different "speed of life", as metabolic rates, contraction rate of whatever passes for muscle, and other physiochemical rates associated with living processes. Consider differences in movement rates between plants and animals, which have essentially the same biochemical basis. But even if your alien life is able to run and pounce with speeds comparable to Terran big cats, we would almost certainly be either poisonous or non-nutritive to the alien predators, and they to us.

    But it's only a lack of imagination, or great arrogance, that would lead us to believe that aliens would likely develop mammalian morphology. There are too many equally advantageous designs for intelligent, motile life forms. Our shape is nothing special in bioengineering terms.

    Visual media use bipedal aliens of approximately two meter vertical length because of the unavailability of actors in other shapes. Aliens in literature up until the mid twentieth century were generally humanoid in appearance partly due to an overly literal interpretation that "Man was made in God's image", therefore God is humanoid in appearance, and so would any other creatures made in His image. But even if you subscribe to the biblical reference, "in His image" may have nothing to do with appearance. It could simply mean inquisitive, intelligent, and compassionate, or some other combination of "godly" personality traits.

    On the other hand, if you want to justify a universal blueprint, go right ahead. After all, the real reason for an alien race in literature is to serve as a surrogate of humankind, with carefully chosen differences. All good fiction is an examination of humankind, either in the aggregate or on an individual level. Making them appear very different is usually coupled with showing how much they are not different on a fundamental level, even if they are displaying our most undesirable qualities. Making an alien's motivations truly incomprehensible is just about guaranteed to confuse most readers and drive the rest away.

    You might even say it's guaranteed to entirely alienate your readers.
     
  12. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -wanted them to have evolved from a now extinct mmain species.to be fair, said species only has the humaoid shape, and in fact don't exactly look human.I say having extra eyes (one on the collarbone and a vertical one on the forehead) , along with retracteble claws, tentacle/stingers from the hips and shoulder blades, strange gem like organs that absorb energy on the body, enhanced senses and telekinesis isn't very human.

    Its just that each species has a main attribute frond them, and select individuals have psychic /telekinetic powers.
     
  13. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -wanted them to have evolved from a now extinct mmain species.to be fair, said species only has the humaoid shape, and in fact don't exactly look human.I say having extra eyes (one on the collarbone and a vertical one on the forehead) , along with retracteble claws, tentacle/stingers from the hips and shoulder blades, strange gem like organs that absorb energy on the body, enhanced senses and telekinesis isn't very human.

    Its just that each species has a main attribute frond them, and select individuals have psychic /telekinetic powers.
     
  14. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Alien life forms can be anything based on the environment they evolved from. It doesn't matter what they look like as long as they are interesting characters.
     
  15. cmshepard
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    cmshepard Member

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    I am not much of a science fiction author, but I do read it occasionally.

    Whether your characters are humanoid or not, people will still empathize with them if you give them personalities. As long as the reader can point out protagonist, antagonist, etc. (or not as long as they have specific traits to define them) and have reasons why s/he loves/hates the character, you still have that bond that makes them want to keep reading. Of course, a good plot helps as well. ;-]

    Personally, I like the idea of creating a planet with its respective life forms. To me, it makes things more believable. Take your idea and run with it. =-]
     

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