Do aliens look like us?

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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:12 am

And of course after humans and chimps come whales and dolphins. I want on a "swim with the dolphins" vacation last summer, but it was disappointing. The dolphins were as programmed as animatronic lincolns -- they did their bit with you -- pulled you around the pool or "shook hands" -- and then got their fish. I still wonder what it is like to interact with an untrained dolphin.

Hal Clement's best books are "Mission of Gravity" and "Needle", both classics.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby temp » Mon Mar 16, 2009 11:29 am

I think a prerequisite for intelligence is if there was an oppressive alien species who colonizes a planet and drives it's habitants into slavery. Then, the slave species over the years evolves into smarter lifeforms and rises up to overcome their masters. :-)
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby admin » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:26 am

Interesting idea, but I'm afraid civilizations rise and fall much more rapidly than species evolve. By the time the conquerored race evolved, the alien civilization would proabably have risen and fallen several times.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby HAL Jr » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:50 pm

I doubt that a slave species would evolve in that way over time. Its more likely to go the other way,the domination/domestication driving the evolution of that species into a submissive skulking race
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby admin » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:08 am

There was a Hugo winning story, "Blood Music", in which humans evolved into happy slaves. And I think "The Puppies of Terra" has the same plot, though I haven't read it.

L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth, at least the movie, takes the other tack. Conquered humans will naturally evolve (in just a few generations) into unstoppable supermen.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby HAL Jr » Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:31 pm

Ah Blood Music is one of Greg Bear's finest! Read it twice. There's also the story that was expanded into the novel but I've yet to come across it.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby slaven41 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:23 pm

One place where "Blood Music" can be found in its short form is a collection titled The Ultimate Cyberpunk, edited by Pat Cadigan. Good stuff.

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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby HAL Jr » Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:18 am

Thats interesting that Blood Music should be lumped with Cyberpunk! Not a fan of that genre really. Having said that I've not read that much of it!
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby admin » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:06 am

Some cyberpunk is ok, but a little goes a long way.

It seems that many people who now work as editors were english majors, and internalized the idea that the only purpose of fiction is characterization. And by "characterization" they mean all of your characters must be shallow, selfish, greedy, and stupid -- in short, punks. After characterization, the next (and only) other purpose of fiction is to portray society, and by "society" they mean a dirty, corrupt, dehumanizing, dull, and hopeless society.

Not my cup of tea.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby slaven41 » Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:01 pm

admin wrote:It seems that many people who now work as editors were english majors, and internalized the idea that the only purpose of fiction is characterization. And by "characterization" they mean all of your characters must be shallow, selfish, greedy, and stupid -- in short, punks. After characterization, the next (and only) other purpose of fiction is to portray society, and by "society" they mean a dirty, corrupt, dehumanizing, dull, and hopeless society.


Based on what little cyberpunk I've read, my experience doesn't match with your description. First of all, I don't think characterization is the main attraction. Part of the attraction is the world construction. I agree with most of your description of cyberpunk society (which perhaps makes it a bit juvenile at times) but not the "hopeless" part. I think a large part of the attraction of cyberpunk is that in spite of the corrupt, dehumanizing, etc. aspects of society, a few intelligent people can still be effectual, and can even strike fear in the powers that be. The cyberpunk heroes I've seen have been far from stupid.

Of course, this may be completely unrepresentative of the vast majority of the genre.

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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby HAL Jr » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:43 pm

I'm gonna have to bite the bullet sometime and read William Gibson's Neuromancer, the father of cyberpunk?
As a lover of space based fiction I've just never found cyberpunk, or steampunk, appealing.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby cdecho » Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:41 pm

I'm new here, and I know this is an old thread, but it one of my favorite topics and one I'm dealing with now in world building for my own writing. It all depends on environment. Similar ecosystems will result in somewhat similar morphology. Fish, Ichthyosaurs, whales and dolphins, even seals and otters, have shapes ideal for moving through water and minimizing drag. I would imagine that on another planet of similar size etc., species that evolved in liquid water might look similar to these species in shape. So, in determining what my aliens look like, I start with an environment that their ancestral species would have evolved in and work my way forward.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby admin » Mon Sep 13, 2010 7:13 am

Good point about whales, otters, and seals. I also think Terry Carr's famous, "Dance of the Changer and the Three" exagerated the extent to which aliens will think and act differently from people. Thought and action are responses to environment and are shaped by evolution.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby cdecho » Mon Sep 13, 2010 7:40 am

I assume any species interested in contact would come from mutually survivable environments. I'm having fun with how cultures would be shaped by environment and evolution. I have a species from a cold, mountainous environment which evolved from a prey species similar to the hyrax who learned how to outsmart predators. They're also unisexual and live in large, extended families. Intelligent, curious, and will steal your toilet paper for snacks. Hate being alone. Have trouble with human privacy and personal space issues, and get silly from too much oxygen.
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Re: Do aliens look like us?

Postby Brightonian » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:44 pm

HAL Jr wrote:I'm gonna have to bite the bullet sometime and read William Gibson's Neuromancer, the father of cyberpunk?
As a lover of space based fiction I've just never found cyberpunk, or steampunk, appealing.

Neuromancer is one of the few SF books I gave up on. Though I did enjoy John Brunner's Shockwave Rider, a specimen of cyberpunk avant la lettre. Getting back to the topic, I was raised on Dr Who and Star Trek TOS so I'm convinced that whatever aliens may look like, they all speak English.
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