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I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my novel

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:28 pm
by Supercollider
This is for a novel I'm going to do for NaNoWriMo. It's already started, so I'll be continuing it - as a "NaNo Rebel" if you know what that means. (For those who don't it simply means I won't follow the NaNoWriMo rule about writing a completely new novel in November.)

Would sort-of-humanoid aliens be the kiss of death? :pale: If I made them sort of humanoid but not "Greys" or "Little Green Men" :alien: ? You see, my story has a theme that is more spiritual/religious. It crosses genres in several ways. I want to have action and adventure like a thriller, the concept of aliens but not get bogged down in the "they're like nothing we will have ever seen before" admonitions I've been reading about in books about alien evolution.

In other words, I want them to have sort of a "DNA analogue," and an analogue toward symmetry (probably bilateral), cephalization, be able with help to breathe our atmosphere and communicate with us. Unlike hard SF where the alienness IS the story, I want the alienness to be more of a storytelling device. Like the lightsabers in Star Wars or the magic in Harry Potter. Yet it won't just be space opera or fantasy. Think C.S. Lewis with a little more science feel, perhaps.

Am I making any sense at all? :? And more importantly, would you read it? :?: It may be mostly to the taste of a specialized religious audience (Catholic or at least Judeo-Christian) and I'm fine with the need to create my own niche market of readers. But the question about humanlike aliens could apply to "soft" science fiction works, right?

Re: I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my no

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:11 pm
by Asp Zelazny
I really think it's more important to have quality and engaging writing and storytelling skill than to have an unique alien to keep the reader involved. Just think of Star Trek in all its interations: the human-ish aliens (plus or minus some ridges or wings or something) were so par for the course that they actually had to make an episode in ST:TNG that "explained" the reason behind this commonality. It also made for some intriguing storylines that explored differences and similarities across species lines and the resulting confusions or attractions.

And yes, you're making sense; and yes, I'd likely read it, given the caveats above.

Re: I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my no

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:17 pm
by Supercollider
Thanks! I was reading this - Grading Science Fiction for Realism (found it through the Science Fiction Genre Lounge on NaNoWriMo) and it helped.

http://www.kheper.net/topics/scifi/grading.html

Re: I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my no

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:27 pm
by Supercollider
I think I'm getting my aliens close to the form I want them to be. :alien: (Not like this fellow, LOL!)

My inspiration came from a head-on picture of a chick embryo, of all things. I wanted the aliens to be sort of appealing - almost cute but not silly-cute. Anyway, when I took the chick embryo picture as the starting place for the face and head, and started adding the rest, I kind of like where it's going. 8)

Re: I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my no

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:35 am
by nightlock
What I know from biology and nature is that it ALWAYS favours symmetry, even if it's not bilateral like mammals. There are also very good things to be said of the humanoid form, walking upright gives us a wide range of view, and frees our hands for tool use etc. One way of switching things up is to pick a different number to focus on. Earth biology likes the number 5: 5 extremeties, 5 digits, 5 arms on a starfish etc.

Re: I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my no

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:52 pm
by Supercollider
I'm going with the 5 thing - and perhaps a different "parallel evolution" with it - like maybe they evolved from something that was originally rather similar to a starfish, then the symmetrical five appendages became specialized. Might also throw in some different biochemistry or genetics if that doesn't totally mess things up for them being able to walk around on Earth with minimal difficulty.

Re: I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my no

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:08 pm
by Asp Zelazny
If you are going with the radial-symmetry 5 point "starfishy" aliens, be sure to at least investigate Larry Niven's pretty well known take on that in the Tales of Known Space series. He had two different, unrelated alien races like that: the Gw'oth and the Jokoti.

I'm not saying, of course, to use those races, but rather, if you go that route that you keep your critteres different enough that they are notably independent creations. And, since Niven has always grounded his work in reasonably correct scientific terms, it could be helpful to investigate his ways of "solving problems" and issues of world-view that he envisions a 5 point radially symmetric intelligence might have.

Re: I think I want aliens that are sort of humanoid in my no

Posted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:42 pm
by Supercollider
Thanks Asp - how are you, good to see you again. Thanks for the recommend. I'm thinking a parallel evolution (sort of) thing where they end up walking on two legs and having two (different sized) sets of arms and a head and torso - so still sort of humanoid too. It's kind of hard to describe. I'm trying to represent them in visual form and while so doing, hoping the artistic process will help me in the imaginative process. :D