Aliens in Fiction

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Samster, May 19, 2015.

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Aliens.

  1. Humanoid aliens are reasonable.

    16 vote(s)
    43.2%
  2. Species that are visibly inhuman, but generally humanoid are a fair compromise.

    22 vote(s)
    59.5%
  3. Alien races ought to be unique.

    23 vote(s)
    62.2%
  4. Humans are the scum of space!

    10 vote(s)
    27.0%
  5. Meh. Humans. Pretty normal.

    9 vote(s)
    24.3%
  6. The Imperium of Man shall rule the universe in the name of the Emperor!

    16 vote(s)
    43.2%
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. Today's conspiracy of thoughts has lead me to wonder what sort of opinions people tend to have on this matter; particularly, I'm interested in knowing what you all think about aliens in fiction whose appearances are either very human or completely inhuman (or maybe in between!), especially in settings that have a large number of alien species. Also, are Earthlings justifiably average/insignificant/supreme, or are settings that invoke these tropes being too presumptuous? :o
     
  2. FIRST FOR IMPERIUM OF MAN
    BURN THE HERETIC. KILL THE MUTANT. PURGE THE UNCLEAN.


    [​IMG]

    I post stuff like this so I can read responses and get alerts then come back later with something actually serious. This thread has potential.
     
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  3. Science Fiction is whatever you want it to be. The same brush stroke applies to aliens because a lot of them take their roots from the Fantasy counterparts they evolved from, like elves recycled in space. As such, I generally tend to like aliens of all sorts so long as the story they're placed in is interesting and they're used well. A setting like Star Trek for instance benefits from having primarily humanoid type aliens: It saves on their limited makeup/special effects department and gives a more readily humanized look to them, making them easier to associate with. It also tends to help reinforce the "war is bad, we are all the same" message it likes to throw up in neon lights for you. (Plus an episode went ahead and explained why the humanoid-dominated galaxy was a thing, so it even gets addressed in-universe.) Star Wars has a similar thing going on: Mostly humanoids because it's cheaper and easier to humanize them, but also because Star Wars is fantasy & westerns recycled in space.

    The alien's appearance matters less as to what they do and who they are: What that appearance is used for, denotes whether it's creative or not. Like space lizards from V or hordes of space bugs from Starship Troopers or the silicone aliens from Titan AE. All memorable, all creative, in their own way. :ferret:
     
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  4. Honestly, my favorite portrayal of aliens in fiction would have to be Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. I tend to imagine some sort of parasitic species that looks nothing at all like humans, but is capable of keeping itself hidden from detection by hiding in the human body. I'm not talking about face huggers that lay eggs, an airborne pathogen that impregnates the human body with a larva type of creature, which eventually develops into multiple types of aliens. That's always been how I liked to imagine them anyway. I've never been one to romanticize the idea that aliens are going to turn up and be our biggest fans. When and if they turn up, they're going to rape the hell out of us and Earth, then go about their merry way.

    As for humans, I do follow idea of the general human stereotype in Sci-Fi. We aren't going to be the superior race, and I highly doubt we ever will be. Is there other planets/worlds/civilizations out there that we are superior to? Possibly. In that regard, I tend to lean towards the Stargate portrayal of humans. We're not the brightest crayon in the box, but we're not the dullest either. We will one day stupidly pick a fight with someone bigger and badder than us, and somehow ass our way to survival by the skin of our teeth.
     
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  5. I VOTED FOR EVERYTHING! 8D

    Real life speaking, actual aliens are prolly going to be NOTHING like us. O__O just nothing we can even imagine.

    But in my fiction? Why the hell not. I like it all! There's so many fun stories to do, I must has them!
     
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  6. Sci-Fi is science fiction for a reason! It's more fun when your alien has arms and legs and can speak English and can shoot you with guns. It's not so fun when the more realistic version attacks... Probably slime off a rock or slug like creatures from the bottom of planets creates, which is way more likely then our English speaking aliens.

    But who cares because sci fi aliens are fuuuuun.
     
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  7. I tend to think of humanoid aliens as somewhat of a convergent evolution thing- like how dolphins and sharks are completely different species, but look very similar due to the circumstances of their environment and evolution.

    Also, it's easier to empathize with a being that looks more like you, in terms of interspecies alliances (humans are extremely prejudiced even towards their own species, so chances are that the more different an alien is from the general humanoid look, the less humans would accept or deal with them.)

    That being said, I definitely think there is more room for creativity in regard to how we think of different alien races and their cultures (I hate to bring up homestuck, but despite the generally humanoid look of the aliens, their underlying biology, cultures, and history are really well thought out and interesting to theorize about when thinking about parts of their society left out of the narrative). And like Brovo said, the function of the alien parts is another important thing to consider when deciding if something is a well-constructed idea. I would like to see less humanoid aliens in sci fi just to see what people can come up with, and how much it could broaden our ideas of aliens in general.

    I hope I made sense here :I
     
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  8. Also, in response to this part of the question, I remember seeing a post somewhere about how we really take human abilities for granted in sci fi. We have endurance for things other animals on our planet could never survive (disease, broken bones, adaptation to whatever environment we live in and learning to thrive, all the ridiculous things we consume JUST FOR FUN etc), and while we keep writing about these scary aliens we are completely leaving out how otherwordly and insane WE are from their perspectives. It's definitely a twist on things that I enjoy, and if I find the post I will definitely link it here.

    EDIT: tracked it down!
     
    #8 Indabayou, May 19, 2015
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
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  9. FOR THE EMPEROR!!!!

    I am a fervent believer in 'Humanity, Fuck Yeah.'

    Otherwise, I find that most alien species are too human-like, and not alien enough. I understand the practical limitations of portraying non-humanoid aliens, but I find all the humanoid aliens a little tiring. Mass Effect, for example, has only three non-humanoid alien species in it (the Rachni, Elcor and Hanar), and even then, they're based off common earth creatures (bugs, gorillas and jellyfish, respectively). I'd love to see something with 'alien' aliens in it, like Pierson's Puppeteers.

    This isn't to say I don't like humanoid aliens, I'd just like a little variety. Aliens are supposed to be foreign to human understanding, not just a race of humans with weird faces and different culture.
     
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  10. As for how humanoid an alien should be, I feel like it's all a matter of what you can manage to do with it. There are plenty of examples of aliens being very humanoid-looking that work out rather well.

    First thing that comes to mind is Doctor Who. Even beyond the obvious example of the Time Lords, there are plenty of other alien races in the series (especially in the Classic era) that look exactly like humans, with no real justification as to why. And, you know what? It suits the show really well in most cases, because in spending less time trying to come up with weird alien qualities to make their extraterrestrial races less human, they can spend a lot more time developing the world and society that those aliens live in, often to very interesting results, since, being aliens, they can do virtually anything. And that is what makes the races alien, even if they look just like humans. Honestly, Gallifreyan society is one of the most fascinating aspects of the show to me -- one that I keep wishing they'd spend a bit more time on.

    And then, meanwhile, you can have aliens that are really, really alien and that are really interesting to read about as they display so much creativity, but sometimes just... too much creativity. Animorphs is a prime example. I remember I loved all the aliens in the series because they were just so detailed and well-thought-out, so alien. But, after a while, their alien-ness started to become quite a flaw. I remember the later books in the series being a lot harder to get through because there were just so many aliens that were all so alien, they were honestly just really hard to visualize and wrap my mind around a lot of the time. It grew to be a bit much -- especially when they were so alien that there grew to be very little to relate to.

    Still, Animorph's aliens were really nice in smaller doses, and when there were still enough human characters and human concepts to make sense of the whole thing. Detach all aspects of humanity and familiarity and you've got some difficult aliens for the readers to understand.
     
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  11. I'm fine with any kind of alien adaptation assuming they can be written/portrayed well.
    It's nice to have a variety with alien life, it'd be awfully lame (and frankly unrealistic) if there was a set formula for what aliens should be like.
     
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  12. having played stardrive 2, I believe solely in Katana wielding space bears.
     
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  13. HUMANITY, FUCK YEAH!

    Death to the blue monkeys and their tree goddess!

    Death to all xenos!

    DROWN THE GALAXY IN ALIEN BLOOD IN THE NAME OF KHORNE! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!
     
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  14. My character folders have quite a few alien specimens in them. I see lots of love for different colored humans, which is all fine and dandy.

    Me personally? I love my aliens alien.

    I don't want to relate to them. Don't want one of my first thoughts to be "can I fuck that?" No kiddie my-first-alien like a Turian or asari. My aliens are as inhuman as they can get.

    It's why I love the arachnids from Starship Troopers, besides the insect archetype they look amazing. Same with the necromorphs of dead space. Wholly alien intelligence really gets me going.
     
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  15. I'd like to point out that humanoid =/= bipedal. Just because something walks around on two legs like us doesn't mean they're not unique.

    I don't mind some humanoid aliens, but in cases like Star Trek where alien means a human with some head lumps or pointy ears, I kinda check out. I don't mind some aliens resembling us, but for the most part I like them to be visually and culturally distinct from us. Throw some weird shit at me or make them rateable, I don't mind, just make it something unique that stands out and could be plausible as an alien.
     
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  16. Not sure if we're talking about real aliens or imagined ones. Going to try to cover both.

    I create aliens all the time. I've been trying to write a SciFi book for two plus years now, and I have some odd rules regarding my creatures.

    Humanoid but not: we evolved to look like we did for the sake of efficiency. For earth, this body is the best it can do for a sapient lifeform at this time. Something similar, while unlikely, is not beyond the bounds of reason. Two arms, two legs, stereoscopic vision, are all where I start, and tweak from there.

    Blood: one thing to consider is aliens might not breathe oxygen. If they breathe nitrogen, for example, their blood might be blue. If we have a methane-breathing creature who knows how they bleed? If they do breathe oxygen it doesn't have to be red. It could be orange or green depending on their iron content.

    Different senses: they might not perceive things the way we do. I created a world called Zer that is almost completely blue. Blue plants, blue animals, blue sky and sea. Green and brown are common colors for us, but there it's blue. So they could see where they were going, they evolved to be unable to perceive blue. Another race that's almost deaf wouldn't have a typical language, and has an olfactory language - they communicate by smell.

    The classics: there's nothing wrong with the fallback of lizard men and giant insects. However they've been done so many times in SciFi that you need to add your own spin to them for a story.

    Size: on average I make most of my aliens bigger than humans. My thinking is they met other species and were no longer at the top of the food chain. A biological arms race begins, making the aliens stronger and smarter over time.

    Shape shifting: I'm especially proud of this addition. Those in the Otherverse RP know one example of this is the biomechanical Biodynes, who convert other creatures into themselves, but another form of shape shifting comes in a race I made up called the Plazonzians. They can absorb DNA and incorporate it into their own genetics. This makes them the most diverse species in the galaxy, and allows them to evolve rapidly. What takes other species millions of years, they can evolve in a few generations. However, the sad part is I made them so diverse they're no longer compatible with each other. They have to subject their species to prostitution just to survive.

    And don't get me started on interdimensional.

    The point is, almost anything you can think of is possible when you don't know where life is going to spring up.
     
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  17. Aliens can be whatever, in my opinion. They could even look the same as humans if the circumstances of their evolution were similiar, but of course their culture wouldn't. I think that the quality of humanity really depends on each individual setting, I don't have a preference for that.
     
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  18. My greatest creation in terms of an alien race look all too human IMO, but I attest that to the challenge I had been given when making them. In any case, I just enjoy creating alien races of all sorts, humanoid or not. To me it's not a question of making them relatable or making them as different as possible, but one of trying to make something believable and interesting with the initial ideas I had come up with. So I really could care less if they're wavy-forehead aliens or absolutely incomprehensible alien geometries; if I had fun making them and I think they're unique in other areas, or whatever.
     
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  19. For aliens, function over form. Any kind of alien could be good as long as the writer has a good reason for using aliens of a particular type and is keeping reader/viewer expectations in mind.

    For humanity's role in the universe, again, anything could be made to work well by a writer who understands how narrative structures work.

    I voted for all the options. :D
     
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  20. You have to be like the South Korean dramas and make aliens into hot, young men that eventually fall in love with the main female because she looks similar to some other woman he loved 400 years ago in the Joseon Dynasty and create a cheesy love story with a large fanbase!

    Seriously, look it up. 'My Love from the Stars'/'You Who Came from the Stars'
     
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