Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What do Aliens look like?

Science fiction has offered us a plethora of images of potential alien life.  They are all rooted, to some extent, in assumptions about differences in their evolutionary history as compared to humans.  Some of these images are bug like, some warrior like, while others look more like an average, hairless, baby faced human (like the image shown here.)  Most presume that aliens would share certain human-like characteristics like bipedalism (walk on two legs), bilateral symmetry (right and left sides are mirror images of each other), and a similar arrangement of the major body parts (head on top with eyes and mouth, long central torso etc.)  These add familiarity for the reader but lack a level of ingenuity that we expect in fiction.

In the Socialite 1 book series, the aliens, Ray, Grace and Elle Amis, were designed on their planet to look exactly like humans.  This was important for the story since they had to blend in and be accepted by the Liebe family if they were going to have a chance of completing their mission.  I did not even describe the Zozian species in any detail, except for a few general remarks.  For example, in Book 2: Mission to Mission, Elle and Jacob are walking through the forest near Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia and  Elle explains why she believes that we are never alone:

Jacob stumbled on a decayed piece of cedar, revealing a community of beetles, and isopods.  “Don’t step on them!” shrieked Elle.  She bent down and looked at the assortment of life.  “They have such a small circle of life, especially compared to these huge trees around us, that can live for hundreds of years.  Even compared to ourselves:  within a year these little ones are born, become adults, reproduce then die.  Although their circle of life is small, they deserve just as much respect as creatures with larger life cycles.”  They cautiously stepped over the crawling creatures.  “You see - even we aren’t alone out here.”
“Oh, is that what you meant.  What about in space?  That astronaut stuck up there on the space station - he’s alone.  There aren’t even any bacteria up there.” 
“He’s not alone, either,” argued Elle.  “He’s in constant communication with the people in Houston, who are trying to figure out a way to get him down.” 
“He could simply turn off his speakers, turn his back on Earth if he wanted.” 
“Even then, he would just be facing all the other inhabited planets in the universe,” said Elle.  She was skipping over a log as she spoke, pulling on Jacob’s arm, forcing him to skip as well. 
“You believe in alien’s, do you?” asked Jacob, sarcastically. 
“My dad does, that’s for sure,” said Elle.  “He says that life on other planets is a certainty.” 
“Really?  Do you mean, life like us?” 
“Now who’s being silly?  They aren’t like us...not exactly.  He told me that they have to look a lot different from us, because of different evolutionary histories, and different planetary conditions.” 
“It sounds like your dad has thought a lot about this.”  Jacob tried not to sound too skeptical, or else Elle might think he was judging her father’s sanity.  “I guess while you were growing up he had a lot of time to think about these things, thoroughly.” 
“Now you’re just being silly.”  She stopped, looked into Jacob’s eyes and asked, “is it so hard to imagine life beyond this atmosphere?  When you look at the stars at night, don’t you sometimes wonder if someone may be looking back at you?” 
“Yeah.  Sometimes.  I just never went the extra step that your father has in speculating on what they look like.” 
“Try it.” said Elle.

Elle is subtly trying to get Jacob to believe in the possibly of alien life, a necessity if he is to eventually accept that she is alien.  In the backstory to Socialite, the Zozian Diaries, Ray Amis is translating the diaries of previous Zozian explorers to Earth.  Ray's commentary is meant to allow humans to understand what Zozians are like and how they think.  I used this format so that I could periodically add details of Zozian physiology, sociology and psychology to that story.  For example, in Part 2, Ray explains why the Zozians used to call humans "animals with holes" by describing how Zozians look.  Keep watching for additions to the Zozian Diaries as I will add new parts to the story each week, explaining more about these aliens and their adventures.

Remember:  Book 1: Bees to Benny is still free at:

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