Welcome to Quantum Muse, a science fiction and fantasy ezine. Welcome to Quantum Muse, a science fiction and fantasy ezine. Your banner could be here! Find out how!
.
Posting the finest in science fiction, fantasy and alternative writing and artwork. For free. In our sober moments...
   Reader's login    |    Writer's login
Return to Discussion Topics Page

mark211Most alien aliens?2016-08-07 02:46:19
mark211Thanks as always to everyone who contributes to the discussions, and thanks to QM user 'Dave' for introducing me to the word 'anthropogenocentrism' which Wikipedia defines as 'the belief that human beings are the central or most significant species on the planet (in the sense that they are considered to have a moral status or value higher than that of all other organisms), or the assessment of reality through an exclusively human perspective.'2016-08-07 02:49:25
mark211So taking that idea of anthropogenocentrism as a starting point for this week's discussion, I noticed a news article in The Times (August 5, 2016 p.11) which was all about bees: "The researchers tracked four bumblebees for their short lives after attaching tiny radar to their bodies. Bees are generally considered the automata of the insect world ... However, these specimens were nothing of the sort. "One bee was something of a lifelong vagabond, never settling down on a single patch of flowers," James Makinson, one of the researchers said. "In contrast, another of our bees was exceptionally diligent, quickly switching after only three flights from exploration of the surrounding environment to focusing exclusively on a single forage location ..." In other words, the research suggests that bees may have something like individual personalities as expressed by their behaviour in exploring and foraging.2016-08-07 02:55:37
mark211So the questions are: What are the most alien aliens you can think of or have ever come across when reading science fiction? Which are the least anthropogenocentric in other words? 2016-08-07 02:56:56
MagonianMark211 my pleasure, I only wish I had 'invented' it first as I thought I had when I used it here last discussion. I would offer my favourite EBE as a classic example - Solaris. It's so alien that, paradoxically, nobody knows what the hell it actually is. 2016-08-07 16:29:09
MagonianPS I am Dave when I'm not logged in, sometimes I'm not sure whether I am or not (logged in, I mean - I'm pretty sure I'm me). 2016-08-07 16:33:41
mark211@Magonian: Got you ; - ) Yes, Solaris is not only a phenomenal novel, but also an astonishingly brilliant presentation of an utterly alien intelligence. It may not have been obvious, but that was my reason for mentioning the story about bees - to most people, to me certainly, bees are just ... bees, really. Yet to find out they have patterns of behaviour that could be construed as personality or character is quite shocking/enlightening.2016-08-07 23:54:56
mark211Speaking of animals, I also read somewhere last week online that blue whales are not only altruistic to other whales but they have even been found to be the 'Good Samaritans' of the oceans. For example, when a seal found itself trapped by two killer whales on an ice floe, it seemed certain that it was a goner because the killer whales kept butting up against the block of ice trying to toss him into the sea. But then from nowhere, a blue whale appeared, rolled onto its back, allowing the seal to leap from the ice floe and onto the leviathan's stomach at which point the whale carried it to safety out of range of the killer whales. That's kind of mind-blowing that we share the planet with creatures such as those with such emotional intelligence. It also makes me wonder that if we do ever encounter alien life forms we won't actually realise we've done so because it is so hard for us to identify with anything that isn't anthropogenocentric or else has neotenous features such as puppies and kittens etc.2016-08-08 00:02:18
IronspiderWith the suggestion about the hidden activity of bees, I did consider mentioning the ants in Phase IV, though on reflection I think their 'alieness' is more to do with bad writing than intent. Solaris is a good example as, from my memories of both Lem's book and Tarkovsky's film is that the motivations of the alien intelligence are never explained. That it makes contact is beyond doubt, but why, for what purpose? On a more human scale, I quite like the 'Moties' from the Niven and Pournelle novel. Though their motivations and abilities become more 'human' as the story progresses, their initial intent and motivation comes across as quite alien. Perhaps that's a failing in a great deal of science fiction (I know I've fallen foul of it myself), aliens can only be as 'alien' as our imagination can allow, and sometimes it's easier to fall back on the things we know - hive minds based upon social insects; stellar empires based upon the expansionist phase of Roman civilisation. Hmm. Perhaps I should set myself the challenge of designing an alien species, and seeing how far into 'the alien' I can take the development.2016-08-08 23:31:44
mark211@Ironspider: "Hmm. Perhaps I should set myself the challenge of designing an alien species, and seeing how far into 'the alien' I can take the development." That's one of the things I thought we could try doing here this week.2016-08-09 05:55:13
GordonRowlinsonI always thought it was a cop out to have SciFi aliens bipeds with human characteristics. Wouldn't different planets produce species with different characteristics than us? Aren't we creating aliens in our own image? Shouldn't we use a little imagination? I always liked the Eaters in Robert Silverberg's short story Sundance. The Eaters are grazing blob-like creatures that had no circulatory system or blood. “What they do have is, well, a kind of lymph that permeates every tissue and transmits nourishment along the interfaces. Waste products go out the same way, osmotically.” 2016-08-10 09:13:22
GordonRowlinsonI always thought it was a cop out to have SciFi aliens bipeds with human characteristics. Wouldn't different planets produce species with different characteristics than us? Aren't we creating aliens in our own image? Shouldn't we use a little imagination? I always liked the Eaters in Robert Silverberg's short story Sundance. The Eaters are grazing blob-like creatures that had no circulatory system or blood. “What they do have is, well, a kind of lymph that permeates every tissue and transmits nourishment along the interfaces. Waste products go out the same way, osmotically.” 2016-08-10 09:14:03
mark211@GordonRowlinson: I agree completely about the bipedal thing, but I suppose even Silverberg's 'eaters' have Earth-like equivalents. I don't know enough about evolutionary biology to say for sure, but as far as I'm aware every variation that appears in a lifeform is the result of environmental pressures and that while the possibilities are huge, they are not endless and even limited within certain environments e.g. the 'choice' to be cold or warm-blooded, the 'choice' to expend calorific energy on a highly complex brain and so on. As weird as a duck-billed platypus is, it still demonstrates that there are probably only a few limited ways in which lifeforms can reproduce, mature and evolve. 2016-08-10 11:38:25





Enter the code above to post comment:

Enter a screen name:

Or login to make comments without the code
Enter your comments:





We shamelessly accept handouts!

Give generously to the United Wa - uh, we mean Quantum Muse. It keeps Mike off the streets from scaring small children and the Web Goddess from spray painting Town Hall - again.
Enter your tip amount. Then click on the tip cup!


Quantum Museletter! Be the first to know when new stories and artwork have arrived.

Subscribe to Quantum Museletter by filling out the following form.



Enter the code above to verify entry:
Your email address:
Your name (optional):
 

Do you like this site?
Recommend it to a friend by pushing the button below!