Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I reckon aliens should look, well, ALIEN...

It's fair to assume that, since I'm a sci-fi writer, I'm a rather big sci-fi fan. It's a logical assumption, right enough, and you'd be bang on the money to jump to it, but there's one bit of sci-fi that really sort of annoys me, and it's this:

Aliens that look like humans with half a ton of rubber glued to their heads.

What I'm saying, right, is that evolution doesn't work like that...

Yes, it's that old trope, the rubber-forehead aliens, the bane of my very life when I watch things like Star Trek, or even my favourite TV sci-fi show, Babylon 5. Yes, I know that it all comes down to budgetary restraints, but the simple fact is that there's no reason why an alien lifeform, from (need I remind you) an entirely alien world light years away, should even vaguely look like a human.

To produce an alien that looks like, well, us, a species would have to follow an evolutionary path that's exactly identical to our own. Hell, if you reran evolution on Earth, and changed just one tiny parameter, you most likely wouldn't get humans here, so to imagine it happening on an alien world, with vastly different evolutionary constraints, is a bit silly really.

Where's all the floaty head things, like the eosapien from Wayne Barlowe's exquisite Expedition? Where's all the five-limbed treefrog things, from the 2005 version of War Of The Worlds? Where's all the malevolent, telepathic locust things, from Quatermass And The Pit (the film version with Andrew Keir, that scared the cacky out of me)?

I want more of those, please...

"But Mark," you may well now be saying. "Don't you use humanoid races in your novel, Messiah's Shard?"

Well, yes. Yes I do, but there's more going on there than you know about, just yet. There's hints of what's going on there, in that first novel, but you don't yet know the whole story (but you will, eventually, oh you most certainly will). Besides, there's the yowason and the n'kaf (the two beasties in the pic up there) to consider, and I've made a pact with myself that any future races I come up with will resolutely not be humanoid.

Hmm, maybe something with limbs on their faces (*scratchy beard noise*). That could work...

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