The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Cafe Society

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-12-2002, 05:21 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Science fiction with no human characters

Some idle mental meanderings over the weekend piqued my curiosity on this topic, so I figured my best best would be to open it to the collective intelligence of the SDMB. (I tried a search to see if it had been discussed before, but words like "aliens" bring up unrelated discussions -- say, of tiny spaceships on the moon -- so I'm forging ahead.)

I'm looking for examples of science fiction in which there are no human characters, and the entire cast, so to speak, is made up of alien beings. There are lots of very good alien characters in SF (the Amnion in Donaldson's Gap series come to mind), but they're almost always paired with or against humans. Obviously, for purposes of reader identification, it's a lot easier working with humans, but it seems to me that shouldn't be a requirement for solid storytelling.

But off the top of my head, I can come up with only a few pseudo-examples, books where long sequences are conducted without human involvement:
  • The middle section in Asimov's The Gods Themselves
  • All the stuff about the alien army in Zahn's Conquerors Trilogy before anybody figures out the communication thing
  • That crap Piers Anthony wrote about the intelligent musical lawn mowers or whatever the hell it was
I also thought of the creepy Ray Bradbury story about the unoccupied robo-house, but that doesn't have any characters at all (except for Time and Regret and other metaphorical presences).

I think maybe the closest example I can think of is Watership Down, which very successfully takes the point of view of a nonhuman intelligence, albeit a familiar one. I expect there are other examples in the science-fiction realm, but I can't think of a single one. Even the stories that take place on alien worlds and that have nothing to do with Earth -- e.g., the Asimov/Silverberg classic Nightfall -- assume basically human characters for their cast. You could say the same thing about Disney's Dinosaur movie, which despite its all-reptile-and-lemur ensemble anthropomorphizes the characters so much as to make the alternative setting basically meaningless.

So: Any suggestions? I would prefer good examples, if possible, partly because it's bugging me that I can't think of any. I'll kick myself if I'm overlooking something obvious.

P.S. If you want to take this as an opportunity to get your jollies knocking somebody's style of writing ("...but Heinlein never has any human characters, har har..."), feel free, but don't expect me to pay attention to you.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-12-2002, 07:00 PM
cmburns cmburns is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
The Bug Wars by Robert Asprin and Far Seer and the sequels by Robert Sawyer. The first only has aliens and the second only dinosaurs.

To Reign in Hell by (?) Stephen Brust. God, Jesus, Lucifer, and several ranks of angels, but no humans.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-12-2002, 07:00 PM
TheeGrumpy TheeGrumpy is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Anchorage, AK USA
Posts: 820
Frederick Pohl's "Day Million," though its characters are mainly objects for the narrator to expound on how utterly foreign they are to us folks. And technically, the characters are human, albeit from the far, far future.

Likewise, the main action of James Blish's "Surface Tension" involves microscopic beings which are, in essence, human.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-12-2002, 07:19 PM
Eutychus Eutychus is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: On the windowsill
Posts: 7,174
If Star Wars actually occurred "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" then all of those characters can be considered aliens.
__________________
St. Euty, H.M.S.H.
Sing We Nowell
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-12-2002, 07:22 PM
Morbo Morbo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: 123 Fake Street
Posts: 9,094
Quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus
If Star Wars actually occurred "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" then all of those characters can be considered aliens.
Ah, but it was only "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" from the point of view of the storyteller. From our point in time it's really far, far into the future. That's why they says things like "Hello"
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-12-2002, 07:26 PM
Baldwin Baldwin is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 6,376
Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement does have some human characters, but the main focus is on the extremely alien Mesklinites.

Some better examples are on the tip of my brain...
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-12-2002, 07:32 PM
Miller Miller is offline
Sith Mod
Moderator
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Bear Flag Republic
Posts: 36,137
CJ Cherryh's Chanur Saga features a lot of aliens, and only one human who doesn't have many lines because no one else in the book can speak English.

Cuckoo's Egg, also by Cherryh, has a human protagonist raised since birth by aliens, and taught to believe he is one, although with serious "birth defects" (no fur, etc.)
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-12-2002, 07:42 PM
Darwin's Finch Darwin's Finch is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
Along the lines of Disney's Dinosaur, there is Robert Bakker's Raptor Red. Although, I must confess that I haven't read it, so I don't know if it fits the qualifier of "good".
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-12-2002, 08:06 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Terry Carr's Th Dance of the Chnger and the THree.
Joe Haldeman's Tercentenary
__________________
"My name is Michael Jackson, King of Pop
Look on my works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!"
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-12-2002, 09:29 PM
Landshark Landshark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: San Diego
Posts: 555
John Brunner's The Crucible of Time. The intelligent species is insectoid.

Been quite a while (years) since I read it, so I can't recall any other details of it.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 08-12-2002, 09:50 PM
Horseflesh Horseflesh is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2002
The first part of James P. Hogan's Code of The Lifemaker is all about a strictly robot society and goes on for quite a stretch. The sequel The Immortality Option has a large chunk devoted to the robots creators, a race of avian type aliens.

Jack L. Chalker's Well of Souls series has a planet divided into 144(?) sections I think where each section has its own alien species. Very few humans show up in the books (and stay human for very long), but as you said most of the "aliens" are Terran in their culture and seem to just be humans in rubber suits.

FTR, The Dark Crystal is the only live-action movie I can think of that has no humans in it. Antz is one that I can think of that had no humans but it's all CG of course. They are merely anthropomorphized insects.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-12-2002, 09:54 PM
Dreaming of Maria Callas Dreaming of Maria Callas is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Gene Wolfe's magisteral collection of three novellas The Fifth Head of Ceberus may not have any human characters...

UnuMondo
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-12-2002, 10:12 PM
ResIpsaLoquitor ResIpsaLoquitor is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
"There Shall Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury. The story's about a bunch of robots running a house following a nuclear war, oblivious to the fact that their owners are dead.

A dying dog shows up at one point, though.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08-12-2002, 10:25 PM
montag01 montag01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Also from The Martian Chronicles like "There Shall Come Soft Rains" is its second story, "Ylla." The tale is completely about the life of two Martians just before man's first landing. There are discussions about Earth men, and one is killed offstage; but there are no actual human characters in the story. (The Martians' characteristics and interactions, though, are written as if they were human).
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-12-2002, 10:56 PM
ataraxy22 ataraxy22 is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,287
A.E. van Vogt's short story "Enchanted Village". There is a twist at the end of it.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08-12-2002, 10:58 PM
GIGObuster GIGObuster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Asimov did write IMO one of the best Short tales ever and that also fit the OP: Victory Unintentional. This story was left out of I, Robot because its humorous tone didn’t fit in well with the other stories in the book. The protagonists are three robot heroes: ZZ-1, ZZ-2, and ZZ-3 not a human in sight because they were created to “land” on Jupiter.

In the tale, xenophobic Jovian creatures just found a way to communicate with earth and they are threatening war! Our heroes were the only ambassadors capable to support the environment.

How they defeat the Jovians is one of the greatest twists in sci-fi history.

SPOILER:
While the androids climbed their ship, they were concerned that they had failed in their peace negotiations. It is now war to the death! Just then, the Jovians noticed that the android’s ship had no sealed cabin! Finding that the robots could survive in the vacuum of space was the last power they found the androids had and that the Jovians could not replicate: they surrendered to earth then and there!
On the way up, the androids realized that something else had happened: nobody had told the Jovians that they were not humans! The Jovians just assumed all those billions of humans out there, in the third planet and mars, were like our unique heroes!
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 08-13-2002, 12:37 AM
tavalla tavalla is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
There's an Arthur C Clarke story which only mentions chess; it's very short, conducted between what appear to be godlike computers, and the name completely escapes me.

There's another one of his in which Venusians come to Earth and pick up a few tattered remnants of human civilisation after the next ice age pretty much destroys civilisation. Humans do appear at the beginning of the story, but they're sort of post-humans. Again, I can't recall the story's title.

Third, another story, set post-ice-age. The characters belong to a species that evolved from humanity into something else - fur-bearing, long teeth for scraping algae out of ice, that sort of thing. I think this is another Arthur C Clarke, but I can't even remember that for certain, never mind the title. Sieve for a brain, honestly...
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:01 AM
Steve Wright Steve Wright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
There's yet another Clarke story - I think it's called "Second Dawn" - which features no human characters at all; the protagonists are a sort of ruminant, with advanced mental powers but no hands. The story concerns the revolution in their culture when they meet up with another species which does have hands, but this other species isn't human either.

In some of James White's Sector General series, the focus is very much off the human characters, but I don't know if any of them actually drop the humans completely (if anyone has spare copies of Code Blue - Emergency or The Genocidal Healer, I have a good home they can go to...)

The protagonists in Brian Aldiss's Enemies of the System are all homo uniformis rather than homo sapiens, does this count?

How about Samuel Delany's The Einstein Intersection?
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:19 AM
Linus Van Pelt Linus Van Pelt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Your mention of Clarke made me think of two of his short stories where human beings have little in the way of appearances. In Rescue Party, which details the efforts of a group of aliens to save the human race before the Earth is destroyed, the humans only make an appearance at the end. In The Parasite, humans only make a very brief appearance at the end, and only as commentators (I think I have the correct title. I took it from a list of his short stories that I found online). As a brief hijack, it's a great pity that he stopped writing short stories. They were always his best work. It's also a pity that he hasn't written anything decent since 2010 (with the possible exception of The Hammer of God).

Quote:
originally written by Cervaise
Obviously, for purposes of reader identification, it's a lot easier working with humans, but it seems to me that shouldn't be a requirement for solid storytelling.
Actually, Cervaise, for the most part human identification is necessary for good storytelling. Most good stories involve some sort of conflict, whether it be between two characters, a character and nature, or his/her inner self, etc. (I have heard it said before that all stories involve conflict, but I don't know if I'm willing to go that far). If the thoughts, emotions, motivations, and actions of the characters are not in some way anthropomorphised, the conflict and it's resolution (or lack thereof) and the other action in the story just wouldn't mean anything to us. I'm not saying that it couldn't be done, but that it would be very difficult to create a completely alien character in a completely alien setting and make it interesting to us.

I think that this is expressed much more eloquantly than I can state it in the forward to the book that you mentioned in your OP, Nightfall. In it Asimov and Silverberg talk about the fact that although it is set on alien world, the people are portrayed as talking and acting like we do. Although they could have spent their time coming up with dozens of "alien sounding" words and phrases, it doesn't really add anything to the story except a gimmick and instead detracts from the readability. YMMV on this, of course.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:35 AM
tavalla tavalla is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
I can't find the first story I mentioned above, but the second and third are "History Lesson" and "Quarantine" respectively.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 08-13-2002, 09:42 AM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: 地球
Posts: 21,882
Farscape is a TV show that has only one human in it. There was one episode last year that featured everyone else but him(though he appeared for about 10 seconds as a memory).
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 08-13-2002, 10:40 AM
tanstaafl tanstaafl is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: ATL
Posts: 3,111
From the rec.arts.sf.written faq (found at ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-hie...ked_Questions_(FAQ) )

Quote:
J. Only non-human characters

Suggestions so far include:
Robert Asprin's BUG WARS
John Brunner's CRUCIBLE OF TIME
Mary Caraker's WATERSONG
Arthur C. Clarke's "Second Dawn"
Samuel R. Delany's EINSTEIN INTERSECTION
Diane E. Gallagher's ALIEN DARK (mostly)
Raymond F. Jones & Lester del Rey's WEEPING MAY TARRY
Ross Rocklynne's SUN DESTROYERS
H. Beam Piper's FIRST CYCLE
Robert J. Sawyer's "Quintaglio" Trilogy: FAR-SEER, FOSSIL HUNTER,
and FOREIGNER
Robert Silverberg's AT WINTER'S END and THE NEW SPRINGTIME
Olaf Stapledon's STAR MAKER and NEBULA MAKER
James Tiptree's "Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death"
__________________
XBL - CavemanGamer | Steam - Paleospieler | Twitter - tanstaaflWDM | Blog - The Paleogamer
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 08-13-2002, 10:49 AM
tanstaafl tanstaafl is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: ATL
Posts: 3,111
From the rec.arts.sf.written faq (found at ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-hie...ked_Questions_(FAQ) )

Quote:
J. Only non-human characters

Suggestions so far include:
Robert Asprin's BUG WARS
John Brunner's CRUCIBLE OF TIME
Mary Caraker's WATERSONG
Arthur C. Clarke's "Second Dawn"
Samuel R. Delany's EINSTEIN INTERSECTION
Diane E. Gallagher's ALIEN DARK (mostly)
Raymond F. Jones & Lester del Rey's WEEPING MAY TARRY
Ross Rocklynne's SUN DESTROYERS
H. Beam Piper's FIRST CYCLE
Robert J. Sawyer's "Quintaglio" Trilogy: FAR-SEER, FOSSIL HUNTER,
and FOREIGNER
Robert Silverberg's AT WINTER'S END and THE NEW SPRINGTIME
Olaf Stapledon's STAR MAKER and NEBULA MAKER
James Tiptree's "Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death"
__________________
XBL - CavemanGamer | Steam - Paleospieler | Twitter - tanstaaflWDM | Blog - The Paleogamer
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 08-13-2002, 11:57 AM
Steve Wright Steve Wright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Hmm. I thought about Star Maker, but decided it was disqualified on account of the first-person narrator being (initially, at least) human...
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 08-13-2002, 12:18 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
How about Watership Down?
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 08-13-2002, 01:12 PM
montag01 montag01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Or the Secret of NIMH.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 08-13-2002, 03:33 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Quote:
Originally posted by Ethilrist
How about Watership Down?
I mentioned it in the OP.

It's what I would offer to Linus Van Pelt, in fact, in response to his point:
Quote:
for the most part human identification is necessary for good storytelling ... I'm not saying that it couldn't be done, but that it would be very difficult to create a completely alien character in a completely alien setting and make it interesting to us
...Just to say that yes, it can be done. Using human characters obviously makes identification easier, but it isn't necessary, per se. From Watership Down, we see that it can be done because it has been done, and what's more, it's considered a classic.

Indeed, I'd observe that none of the works mentioned so far really qualifies as a classic, Bradbury's shorts excluded. Darwin's Finch brings up Raptor Red, which I have read and enjoyed and then forgot about; it's a work of remarkable imagination presented with awkward prose. And several other titles do make me nod in vague recollection, particularly Bug Wars and Crucible of Time, both of which I need to pick up.

I'm finding all of this very interesting; thanks to everyone for the responses so far.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:23 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 25,513
Not precisely science fiction, but Edwin A. Abbot's Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions deserves mention as a narrative by an alien intelligence - at least as alien as the one in Watership Down
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:48 PM
Doubting Robert Doubting Robert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally posted by Horseflesh
FTR, The Dark Crystal is the only live-action movie I can think of that has no humans in it. Antz is one that I can think of that had no humans but it's all CG of course. They are merely anthropomorphized insects.
Everything said about Antz also applies to A Bug's Life. The characters may look like bugs, but they might as well as well be human. In fact, the plot is just a comedy version of Seven Samurai.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:49 PM
montag01 montag01 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Alright, damnit, it's time for us to write the classic SF novel that involves no humans or aliens with overtly human emotional characteristcs! With so many monkeys like us working on the manuscript, I'm sure we'll have a marketable first draft in a decade or so.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 08-13-2002, 06:21 PM
Doubting Robert Doubting Robert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Many years ago, I read a few stories (in Analog, I believe, although it could have been Asimov's) which took place on a planet where there were no humans. In the first of these stories, the main character is an intelligent life-form rather like a giant ameoba. In a later story, another type of life-form appears, looking somewhat crab-like, IIRC, but acting rather like humans. I remember being disappointed when the more human characters joined the "cast" because it was so interesting reading stories in which all the characters were so alien.

Unfortunately, I can't remember the titles of the stories or who wrote them. I thought it might be Joan D. Vinge, but none of the titles listed in her bibliography rings a bell.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 08-13-2002, 06:32 PM
Doubting Robert Doubting Robert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally posted by Horseflesh
FTR, The Dark Crystal is the only live-action movie I can think of that has no humans in it.
[hijack]
There are several live-action movies with no humans. Most of them are documentaries, and many of them are from Disney (The African Lion, The Living Desert, etc.). Disney did make at least one full-length "True Life Fantasy" - a movie called Perri, based on a book (which does have human characters) from the author of Bambi. Perri is live-action, has no humans, and is not a documentary. It would be a real stretch to call it science-fiction, however.
[/hijack]
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 08-13-2002, 07:33 PM
Tars Tarkas Tars Tarkas is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
If you're gonna mention Watership down, then would you count the Redwall books? Or Wind in the Willows? Or do they meld more in fantasy than Sci-fi?
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 08-13-2002, 11:40 PM
Linus Van Pelt Linus Van Pelt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally posted by Cervaise

...
It's what I would offer to Linus Van Pelt, in fact, in response to his point:...Just to say that yes, it can be done. Using human characters obviously makes identification easier, but it isn't necessary, per se. From Watership Down, we see that it can be done because it has been done, and what's more, it's considered a classic.
...
I have not read Watership Down (although I have heard that it is a classic and should be placed on my "to read" list). Are the rabbits (it's rabbits, right) in Watership Down anthropomorphised? My point was not that there must be human characters for the reader to readily identify, but that they must posses human characteristics for reader to make the necessary emotional connection. What is the real difference between humans that are human, those that are described as human and act human even though they are aliens, and characters that are described as something else entirely (animals, aliens, etc.) but still act human?

I'll wait until someone mentions a work with a totally alien cast (in physical makeup and thoughts/actions) that is considered more than an interesting experiment in writing before I concede that point. In fact, I don't think that I'll concede it until I'm shown numerous examples because I didn't say that it was impossible, just very difficult.

Along these lines, I think we may need to refine the question a little. Does a story with anthropomorphised "others" count for what you're looking for? Or does it need to be non-humans that also act pretty darn alien as well?

However, we do agree on one point. This is an interesting discussion.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 08-14-2002, 12:13 AM
ResIpsaLoquitor ResIpsaLoquitor is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Along these lines, I think we may need to refine the question a little. Does a story with anthropomorphised "others" count for what you're looking for? Or does it need to be non-humans that also act pretty darn alien as well?
One of my favorite high-school English teachers taught us that the only thing a story needs is conflict. He had an interesting point--you can theoretically envision a story without any dramatis personae, so long as there's a goal and a hump that needs to be overcome. (Likewise, a story without conflict isn't a story at all: it's just fact recitation.)

I guess it comes down to this: if struggle is the essence of what it means to be human, then you can't escape that particular human element of storytelling per se.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 08-14-2002, 09:52 AM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Thouhg it is slightly off-topic, there is a nifty old PC game called Ascendancy. Its one of those 4X (Expansion, Exploration, something, and Extremination) games involving galactic exploration and empire building. There are no human types. There are about 20 or so different alien species to be. Some of them are very funny, and all represent a certain aspect or drive of humankind. For example, the Ballifalids represent humanity's sense of humor, friendliness, and friendship. The Chamachis represent humankind's scientific endouvers and desire to know, the Minions are man's destructive and violent nature in the service of others.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 08-14-2002, 02:31 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 54,507
Asimov had a short story where the main characters were evolved from bears, living in the far future after we humans have all wiped each other out. They eventually meet up with other creatures who are very like humans, but evolved from chimpanzees.

I think that the title was something like "No Connection" or something else suggesting coincidence.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 08-14-2002, 02:44 PM
caveman caveman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: City of the Violet Crown
Posts: 1,459
You may scoff, but there are many stories in the Transformers-type-area that lack human characters (although one could argue that the characters or culture has been human-influenced). The animated Beast Wars and Beast Machines come to mind, as well as the upcoming The War Within comic.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 08-14-2002, 03:41 PM
Eve Eve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Science fiction with no human characters

The Anna Nicole Show?
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 08-14-2002, 04:13 PM
Pixellent Pixellent is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Robert L. Forward, the astrophysicist, tried his hand at a novel called Dragon's Egg (no relation to the non-fiction book about the hunt for a dangerous computer hacker). Essentially, the book was the answer to a scientific "what-if:" Could a race of creatures evolve on the surface of a star and, if so, what would they be like?

The book switches back and forth between the life of these creatures and a set of human characters on a mission to explore the star where the aliens live. There's never a moment, if I remember correctly, where the aliens and the humans meet, interact or communicate: it's just two parallel, non-intersecting stories.

The thing I found most fascinating about the book was this: Forward succeeded in creating a completely alien race of beings, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to humans, scientifically valid, and totally absorbing. On this other hand, his humans were the most boring, cliched pack of cardboard standups you've ever seen, made to jump through the hoops of a ludicrous soap-opera plot just so the book could have some characters that, theoretically, the readers could identify with.

All of which proved to me that, as a novelist, Forward was one hell of an astrophysicist.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:57 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.