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Old 10-08-2019, 01:04 PM
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What’s your favorite alien?


Not a particular alien individual, like Yoda or ET. What fictional alien race / species do you find most interesting, and why?

I’m currently re-reading Larry Niven’s Ringworld, which has rekindled my fascination with Pierson’s Puppeteers. Niven gave them an intriguing combination of traits:
- Highly intelligent and advanced herbivores
- Genetically predisposed to “cowardice” as a survival mechanism
- Two-headed and three-limbed, making them seem very non-human, but not in the campy way many fictional aliens are portrayed
- An obscure sense of humor, usually opaque to humans, yet they are very comical

Niven also avoided giving too much exposition about Puppeteers (at least in what I’ve read so far), leaving them a bit mysterious. I’d so love to meet one.

So what fictional alien would you most want to have a carrot juice with?
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:06 PM
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Vulcans - Intelligence is sexy!
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:11 PM
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The Trafalmadoriams in Slaughterhouse Five.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:22 PM
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Paul. In that movie. Forget the name of it. Paul was funny.
ETA, seems 'Paul' was the name of the movie, as well.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 10-08-2019 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:35 PM
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Well, I'm for sure NOT having carrot juice with Alien. But it is my favorite.

A perfect monster. What I like to think about is what the hell kind of planet did this beast evolve on? What else lives there? Mind boggling.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:36 PM
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Niven also avoided giving too much exposition about Puppeteers (at least in what I’ve read so far), leaving them a bit mysterious. I’d so love to meet one.
There are many more books (starting with several in the Ringworld series) that tell you more about Puppeteers!

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So what fictional alien would you most want to have a carrot juice with?
The females from Species would give immense short-term satisfaction...
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:38 PM
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I really like the society of the aliens from the World War series. Very slow changing reptilian aliens who send off a slower than light fleet to invade Earth sometime in the middle ages, but arrive during world war 2, where they are shocked by the rapid advance of the human technology.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:40 PM
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From books --- H Beam's "Little Fuzzies"


From movies Alien ------- how did they get into space? Are they actually technological or did they just travel by infesting others? Neither the books or movies made it totally clear although there was evidence they were just parasites.

High-speed-acid-oozing parasites.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:16 PM
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Tweel from Stanley G. Weinbaum's a Martian Odyssey and Valley of Dreams

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweel_(A_Martian_Odyssey)

https://www.tor.com/2017/12/14/quali...ey-g-weinbaum/
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:44 PM
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Well, I'm for sure NOT having carrot juice with Alien. But it is my favorite.

A perfect monster. What I like to think about is what the hell kind of planet did this beast evolve on? What else lives there? Mind boggling.
These are the same questions I have about the title alien in The Thing(1982).
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:13 PM
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I tend to subscribe to the theory that the xenomorphs of Alien were genetically engineered. It solves all the evolutionary questions. My only unanswered question is, were they originally created as "super soldiers" under command and control (who later got loose), or just meant to be an "area weapon", as it were, denying access to regions.

I like the puppeteers, and recommend most if the "..of Worlds" series. It really adds to their character.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:27 PM
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I'm fond of the Gil'Dan/Gil'Dishpan from DC comics.

Slug-like or brain-like aquatic aliens who get around in non-aquatic environments in water-filled floating globes.

Who spent their first few centuries of interacting with humans with a humiliating name due to a mistranslation....they tend to get annoyed when it's mentioned after they figure it out.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:38 PM
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The Solomons, from 3rd Rock from the Sun.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:54 PM
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:00 PM
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The Traeki from Brin's Uplift series. Each one a consensus organism consisting of a stack of toruses, as tall as a human, each one with their own skills and abilities, arranged around a shared memory core. New rings may be found living wild, or specially bred.

In hiding from their own "descendants", who has been Uplifted with dictatorial "master rings" that, through shock torture, control the other rings and turned the peaceful, gentle, indecisive Traeki into the monomaniacal, genocidal, religious fanatic Jophur, who are one of the most feared species in five galaxies. I would not want to share a drink with the latter - like Daleks made out of inner tubes, basically...

Last edited by MrDibble; 10-08-2019 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:02 PM
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Definitely the Oankali from Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis books.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:12 PM
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Hard to pick just one.

The Ishtarians, from Poul Anderson's Fire Time.

The symbiotes, from Hal Clement's Needle and Through the Eye of a Needle.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:18 PM
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I tend to subscribe to the theory that the xenomorphs of Alien were genetically engineered. It solves all the evolutionary questions. My only unanswered question is, were they originally created as "super soldiers" under command and control (who later got loose), or just meant to be an "area weapon", as it were, denying access to regions.
I never thought that at all. C&C? I just figured they were indeed "bugs". That whole instinct to build Geiger nests and chest bursting seems very biological to me. I figure that home planet was one hostile sumbitch.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:33 PM
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Vulcans.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:40 PM
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The most dangerous non-sapient monster in science fiction, for my money, is the grendels, from Niven's The Legacy of Heorot. They basically have rocket-fuel blood, which enables them to move faster than anything else on their planet, and basically all parts of their body are weaponized. Their weakness is that when they use their super-speed, they tend to overheat, so they need to very quickly get back to water, before they cook themselves.
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:38 PM
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I never thought that at all. C&C? I just figured they were indeed "bugs". That whole instinct to build Geiger nests and chest bursting seems very biological to me. I figure that home planet was one hostile sumbitch.
"They cut the power!" " What do you mean *they* cut the power? How could they cut the power, man? They're animals!"

I'm not sure there's any evidence, but they do seem "intelligently designed" rather than evolutionary. Otherwise, yes, their native planet would be worse than Harrison's Deathworld.

"A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality." Ash could have been speaking about it as intelligent, or a dumb animal.

I'd theorize they were genetically modified from some species of insect-like nature, and given intelligence. perhaps they were controlled through some sort of transmitted commands, or just let loose. Perhaps they have (had?) some remote kill switch. But it might seem they got away from their creators and are now running loose.


Note: I did not see Prometheus.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 10-08-2019 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:13 PM
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It may be because I'm a drooling simpleton with the attention span of a demented gnat, but would you mind explaining everything in words of one syllable. 140 chars max.
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:30 PM
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The most dangerous non-sapient monster in science fiction, for my money, is the grendels, from Niven's The Legacy of Heorot. They basically have rocket-fuel blood, which enables them to move faster than anything else on their planet, and basically all parts of their body are weaponized. Their weakness is that when they use their super-speed, they tend to overheat, so they need to very quickly get back to water, before they cook themselves.
I am curious; what is your opinion of the first Deathworld story? An entire ecosystem against you ..... is something.
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:45 PM
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I have several I like, but the two at the top are both from Star Trek, the Klingons and the Ferengi.
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:35 PM
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I am a big fan of the on-line comic Schlock Mercenary, so of course Schlock (a carbosilicate amorph), Uniocs, Fobotrr...heck, there are a lot and the writer has made all of them interesting...

From books, the Moties from Niven/Pournell's Mote in God's Eye are close enough to interact with and alien enough to be quite different from us.

From movies, anyone from the "Klatuu/Gort" society in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (old film). I'd really like to see if it does work.

Last edited by The Stainless Steel Rat; 10-08-2019 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:43 PM
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Paul. In that movie. Forget the name of it. Paul was funny.
ETA, seems 'Paul' was the name of the movie, as well.
My choice as well. Paul is one of my favorite movies.
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:16 PM
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I've never read Deathworld.

And yeah, Schlock and his crew are quite interesting.
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:53 PM
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The Thing. From the John Carpenter movie. Scary as Fuck.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:06 PM
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The Thing. From the John Carpenter movie. Scary as Fuck.
Dammit, yes! How could forget about that? It's only my favorite movie ever...
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:36 PM
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I figure that home planet was one hostile sumbitch.

There's no reason the Engineers wouldn't have chosen a particularly successful parasite from a deadly world to engineer into their biological weapon. That way they don't have to start from the beginning.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:58 PM
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I have several I like, but the two at the top are both from Star Trek, the Klingons and the Ferengi.
Same here...

Trek; Klingons, Vulcans, Ferengi , heck, even the Spoonheads....err...Cardassians

Farscape; the Nebari, i'll be in my bunk....with Chiana can I get a Frell Yeah?!

Star Wars; the Twi'Lek

Battlestar Galactica (reboot); Boomer/Athena, and Number Six models

Futurama; MACTECH-PREFERS-THE-BRAINSLUG-PLANET <rips off brainslug>, sorry, ahem, as I was saying… Decapodians, Neptunians, Omicronians, and.....ALL-GLORY-TO-THE-HYPNOTOAD.... Dammit, too many mind-controllers there....
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:06 PM
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Same here...

Trek; Klingons, Vulcans, Ferengi , heck, even the Spoonheads....err...Cardassians

Farscape; the Nebari, i'll be in my bunk....with Chiana can I get a Frell Yeah?!

Star Wars; the Twi'Lek

Battlestar Galactica (reboot); Boomer/Athena, and Number Six models

Futurama; MACTECH-PREFERS-THE-BRAINSLUG-PLANET <rips off brainslug>, sorry, ahem, as I was saying… Decapodians, Neptunians, Omicronians, and.....ALL-GLORY-TO-THE-HYPNOTOAD.... Dammit, too many mind-controllers there....
Who would win in a showdown between hypnotoad and brainslugs?
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:52 AM
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Solaris, a planet-encompassing, sentient ocean.

In the book, scientists have been studying it for decades, hundreds of articles have been written about it and yet, no-one understands what it is or what it wants, as its fundamentally alien nature renders it prospect of establishing communication with it futile. What do the gigantic, baroque superstructures that appear occasionally on its surface mean ? Are the creepy hallucinations that haunt the astronauts orbiting its planet proof of hostile intent or just the product of our inability to communicate ? No-one knows.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:18 AM
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Solaris, a planet-encompassing, sentient ocean.

In the book, scientists have been studying it for decades, hundreds of articles have been written about it and yet, no-one understands what it is or what it wants, as its fundamentally alien nature renders it prospect of establishing communication with it futile. What do the gigantic, baroque superstructures that appear occasionally on its surface mean ? Are the creepy hallucinations that haunt the astronauts orbiting its planet proof of hostile intent or just the product of our inability to communicate ? No-one knows.
I've never been happy with Stanislas Lem's book*, although I like it better than either of the film adaptations.

If you're looking for incomprehensible aliens that we don't seem to be able to communicate with effectively, I prefer the Loarra from Terry Carr's The Dance of the Changer and the Three, which came out about the same time. It was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula that year, but didn't win either

https://www.lexal.net/scifi/scificti...arr/carr1.html








* (which still has not been completely translated into English. The translation we have not only isn't complete -- it's not direct. It's the English translation of a French translation. Kinda like the Jerusalem Bible.)
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:30 AM
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Not a particular alien individual, like Yoda or ET. What fictional alien race / species do you find most interesting, and why?

I’m currently re-reading Larry Niven’s Ringworld, which has rekindled my fascination with Pierson’s Puppeteers. Niven gave them an intriguing combination of traits:
- Highly intelligent and advanced herbivores
- Genetically predisposed to “cowardice” as a survival mechanism
- Two-headed and three-limbed, making them seem very non-human, but not in the campy way many fictional aliens are portrayed
- An obscure sense of humor, usually opaque to humans, yet they are very comical

Niven also avoided giving too much exposition about Puppeteers (at least in what I’ve read so far), leaving them a bit mysterious. I’d so love to meet one.

So what fictional alien would you most want to have a carrot juice with?
He goes into a lot more detail with his later collaborative series with Ed Lerner. Worth your time, if not quite as good as many of the Ringworld books.

My own favorite aliens are how the Strugatsky brothers described an alien visitation in Roadside Picnic:
Quote:
A picnic. Picture a forest, a country road, a meadow. Cars drive off the country road into the meadow, a group of young people get out carrying bottles, baskets of food, transistor radios, and cameras. They light fires, pitch tents, turn on the music. In the morning they leave. The animals, birds, and insects that watched in horror through the long night creep out from their hiding places. And what do they see? Old spark plugs and old filters strewn around... Rags, burnt-out bulbs, and a monkey wrench left behind... And of course, the usual mess—apple cores, candy wrappers, charred remains of the campfire, cans, bottles, somebody’s handkerchief, somebody’s penknife, torn newspapers, coins, faded flowers picked in another meadow.
I think any alien visitation would be horrifyingly incomprehensible, if we even knew it was occurring. Returning to Niven, I liked how the Thrint in World of Ptavvs was thought of for the longest time as just a statue, serenely untouchable and incomprehensible to everyone that tried to study it. I think any alien artifacts would be similarly beyond the ability of modern science to begin to even understand.

EDIT: Les Espaces's Solaris ocean got me to thinking. The Juggler Ocean from Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space series is a nifty example of an aquatic sentient ocean. In that universe, living beings visit the Pattern Jugglers to be remade, from the atoms up, with new modes of thinking and acting. Think of it as a nanotechnology vat, run by a communal, ocean-spanning organism, that is mostly beneficial. Though sometimes the Jugglers don't let you leave...

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 10-09-2019 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:35 AM
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I've never read Deathworld...
If you like Harry Harrison, it's typical of his other books. Though Jason dinAlt wishes he was as charismatic as Slippery Jim. Typical of late 60s-mid 70s influence too. But it reads quickly.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:25 AM
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I've never been happy with Stanislas Lem's book*, although I like it better than either of the film adaptations.

If you're looking for incomprehensible aliens that we don't seem to be able to communicate with effectively, I prefer the Loarra from Terry Carr's The Dance of the Changer and the Three, which came out about the same time. It was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula that year, but didn't win either

https://www.lexal.net/scifi/scificti...arr/carr1.html
Yeah, that's exactly the sort of aliens I love : those that are really alien. I've always been unhappy with the many, too human aliens in SF.

Thanks for the recommendation .
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:12 AM
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Since this is about aliens in fictional creative works, let's move this to Cafe Society (from IMHO).
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:23 AM
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Another very alien alien species are the Calebans in Frank Herbert's Whipping Star.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:36 PM
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MacTech, remember that Chiana is extremely atypical among the Nebari, and that you probably wouldn't find most of the rest of them to your liking.

And I've only read Fleet of Worlds, not any of the sequels, but my impression was that a very devoted fan put a lot of effort into meticulously reconciling all of the many contradictions in Niven's work, and that Niven officially gave it his seal of approval by putting his name on as co-author.

Though, to be fair, there's an awful lot that you can reconcile just by assuming that the Puppeteers are lying.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:40 PM
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  #42  
Old 10-09-2019, 12:43 PM
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Yeah, that's exactly the sort of aliens I love : those that are really alien. I've always been unhappy with the many, too human aliens in SF.
There are the calibans in C.J. Cherryh's Forty Thousand in Gehenna. They are lizard-like creatures, initially classified as animals by human colonists, and not particularly intelligent animals at that.

But it becomes gradually apparent that they have a different kind of intelligence, if it can even be defined as intelligence in human terms. At any rate, they are more complex and more different than it may be possible for humans to fully understand.

The book covers several generations of humans stranded on the planet, some of them forming a semi-symbiotic relationship with the calibans, and in the process becoming less intelligible to normal humans. There is never any clear or simple resolution to the nature of caliban intelligence, though eventually they are classified as intelligent beings by the human race in general, and their world protected.


Actually, Cherryh's books have a number of interesting alien species. e.g. The dangerous and complex social-insect-like Majat in Serpent's Reach, and the various different species in the Chanur novels, of which the Kif are the most interesting.

And the Atevi in the Foreigner series, who have no concept of affection or love. "Atevi aren't friends. Atevi can't be friends. They don't like you. They're not capable of liking you. The wiring isn't there. Never forget it. Never expect it. Start building that construct to satisfy your needs and you're dead." On the other hand they have highly complex notions of loyalty and obligation, and fourteen different words for betrayal.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:12 PM
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For me, it's any alien race sufficiently thought out. Just slapping on some plastic prosthetics (ears, scalloped forehead) and acting like better or worse humans doesn't do it for me. Actually it's become a pet peeve.

But aliens dreamed up by some of authors already mentioned here, such as Niven's Puppeteers or Brin's Traeki, now these have promise. An alien race's behavior should be informed by their physiology, right? In a deep, mechanical way. Chemicals flowing from one waxy torus to another should indicate slow, deliberate thinking, as seen in the Traeki. Having cloven hoofs, eyestalks and a herd instinct make you awkward and perhaps ungainly, which may lead to caution...and a strong desire to promote group safety. The Puppeteers' creations all spring from this: direct control over their planets' trajectory through space (away from disaster), "fun" and safe cities, super-safe starships they sell, like Volvos, to customers throughout the galaxy.

To contrast, how do pointy ears indicate superior intelligence? It doesn't work for me organically. On the other hand, they're a lot easier to handle in a makeup department, and people in prosthetics are easy to film, standing right next to "regular" humans.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:52 PM
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The Yip Yips(or the Martians) from Sesame Street are a sentimental favorite of mine. Known for saying , "Yip-yip-yip-yip... Uh-huh. Uh-huh".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TStPNqex3uA
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dorvann View Post
The Yip Yips(or the Martians) from Sesame Street are a sentimental favorite of mine. Known for saying , "Yip-yip-yip-yip... Uh-huh. Uh-huh".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TStPNqex3uA
Henson's Puppeteers!
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:25 PM
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Whatever species Shahna was. Rowr.
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:47 PM
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On the other hand, I kind of have respect for Hal Clement's approach: His aliens are different in the ways dictated by their environment, but otherwise similar to humans, because why wouldn't they be? Like, the alien main character in Mission of Gravity is shaped like a centipede, has an extreme fear of heights, breathes pure hydrogen, drinks liquid methane, and considers water a fine structural material for transparent objects, because those are all perfectly reasonable traits for a living thing on its planet. And it's also resourceful, adventurous, and always willing to make a good deal, not because of its species, but because it's the captain of a spice-trading ship, and those are all perfectly reasonable traits for a spice-ship captain.

With a sample size of one, it's equally justified to assume that humans are basically typical, or that aliens are so different from us as to be beyond any hope of comprehension.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:04 PM
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Whichever species is in Explorers would be fun to be around, when they're old enough to not have to rely on stealing their dad's spaceship.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:13 PM
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Klaatu. I could never figure out why Patricia Neal didn't just grab her kid, dump that loser boyfriend, and walk right up into K's flying saucer.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:21 PM
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ALF (Alien Life Form). Not sure what the name of the main ALF character was, but that guy cracked me up. He loved his cats.
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