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Completely non-human cast of characters? What book?

  1. May 6, 2017 #1
    What scifi have you read that has NO reference to humans, is completely distant from human-space?

    Did the book work? Or were they all/mostly humans with six legs?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2017 #2

    fresh_42

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    I assume this would be a bad idea for a plot. Readers usually (want to?!) identify themselves to a certain extend with the main character - hero - or at least want to be alike. I guess this is the reason why Spock was such a successful character. So introducing an all alien cast would unnecessarily make this identification more difficult and as a consequence the story less successful. Humans with six legs sounds funny and already rather extraterrestrial. I guess more promising might be and were a all alien, but still human like society like the various species on star trek, which although alien, are still merely a projection of certain types of human characters: testosterone driven Klingons, greedy Ferengi or logical Vulcans. S. Lem as well as D. Adams solved this with a human pilot, resp. naive human explorer, traveling from one strange world to an even stranger next one.

    My conclusion is: As authors know this mechanism, and successful concepts heavily rely on this principle, it would be sort of foolish to invest energy in such a plot and might be the reason why either there are none or they were flops and nobody knows them.

    Correction. I've found one: Duckburg. However, I think that wasn't what you meant. The more as it even adds more not less evidence to my hypothesis.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  4. May 6, 2017 #3
    I'm in the comfortable position of being able to write without worrying about needing to feed myself via that most risky of pursuits. Given that an experiment would be fun and, as my wife puts it, keep me from running around the neighborhood and peeing on fire hydrants. ;)

    ETA: The mechanism will be journal entries for each character. It's a multi-species mission with each member chose for its particular skill/proclivity. The reader will be required to sort out who's who as the journals unfold.
     
  5. May 6, 2017 #4

    BillTre

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    I like experiments. Good Luck!

    I was trying to think of something like what you described.
    All I could think of was Flatland, which I have heard and read about, but never read myself.
    I believe it has no human characters in it.
    Like @fresh_42 implied, they're a lot of stories with many non-humans and a single human to interpret things (Alice in Wonderland, many human meets alien films).

    Maybe you could do a story of molecules in a cell. There are hierarchies and boss molecules to make conflicts!
     
  6. May 6, 2017 #5
    The story is for a group of highly militant pinnipeds, so the bacteria won't work. They'll be grading it on realism in line with their chosen field of endeavor. They don't know it yet but each of the critters will be a (through a glass darkly) reflection of their group members.
     
  7. May 7, 2017 #6

    fresh_42

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    Sounds like an essay about Sparta would do.
     
  8. May 7, 2017 #7
    Interesting. How do you see that?
     
  9. May 7, 2017 #8

    fresh_42

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    I'm not quite sure, what this means or if "for" should have been "of", but the Spartanian society had been a highly militant one in which basically everything had been subordinated military needs and goals and ...
    ... sounds like the classic concept of a parable.
     
  10. May 7, 2017 #9
    These guys are US military. The story will be a play on the personnel of that team. They're really just Ordinary Joes who happen to be very good their jobs.
     
  11. May 7, 2017 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    There have certainly been Doctor Who episodes without any human characters - e.g. State of Decay. However, the "non-humans" look human, act human, and even speak English with British accents.
     
  12. May 7, 2017 #11
    And wear discards from hardware stores.
     
  13. May 9, 2017 #12
    The Redwall series utilized a cast of highly anthropomorphized small mammals. Like fuzzy humans with whiskers?
    I feel like you're asking for something different, though. Something...

    If we found life out there, it might be very difficult to recognize. Would they have eyes or ears for example? There's no particular reason to think so. They may not even possess bilateral symmetry.

    Books contain stories that engage our imaginations, and emotions. Could a book about completely non-human creatures move you? If they had desires or emotions whatsoever, but you couldn't recognize them, could you still imagine yourself in that place? A story without fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles... those things are human, excluded. I'm not sure it would work.

    A slightly fun exercise might be to imagine that the events of the Star Wars universe, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, happened in a universe completely devoid of humans. The movies cast humans to make certain characters more relatable, but they were all really as alien as the tiny creatures Jabba eats out of the bowl.
     
  14. May 9, 2017 #13
    I've asked since Ep. 4 came out why so many races far, far away looked liked upgraded Star Trek characters.
     
  15. May 9, 2017 #14

    Vanadium 50

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    A third of Asimov's The Gods Themselves involves only non-humans. Since that was originally published as three serials, it's possible that one of them is alien-only.
     
  16. May 9, 2017 #15

    russ_watters

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    And how about Star Wars?
     
  17. May 9, 2017 #16

    Vanadium 50

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    Kind of a weird request, but I'll try:

    Been Doctor Who episodes without any human characters, there have. State of Decay, one example is. However, the "Non-humans" look human they do , act human they do, and with British accents they speak.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  18. May 9, 2017 #17
    Not all that weird, Just looking for alternative forms for the protagonists. Not every hero has to have bright yellow skin and a long chrome-coloured queue.
     
  19. May 10, 2017 #18

    jim hardy

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    Try Robert Sheckley's collection of short stories "Untouched by Human Hands" , in particular the one "'Specialist". I see it's out on Kindle now. .
     
  20. May 10, 2017 #19
    How about "Nightfall" from Asimov/Silverberg?
     
  21. May 10, 2017 #20
    Ah, good one. Also "Rescue Party" short story.
     
  22. May 10, 2017 #21

    Ryan_m_b

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    Debatable example but throwing it out there: Blindsight by Peter Watts. It's set in the late 21st century on Earth. The main plot revolves around a spacecraft sent into the Oort Cloud to investigate an alien signal.

    That's a simple summary but the really interesting part of it is how the entire book is an exploration into consciousness, neurotypicality, free will and a host of other complex topics. None of the cast of characters are normal humans as we'd recognise it. The protagonist is a man who had to have half of his brain replaced with a prosthetic as a child and since then is essentially a sociopath who can expertly read other's behaviour but doesn't really feel any empathy or connection. Other members include a linguist who has deliberately given herself dissociative identity disorder, a scientist who has had his lab equipment wired into his sensorium, a pacifist soldier who acts as the conscience for military drones she is linked too via a brain interface and a vampire. The latter isn't like Dracula or Edward Cullen, the vampire's in this book are cloned resurrections of a discovered extinct species of human that evolved to hunt other human breeds. Consequently they are smart, fast and mentally weird, having undergone tens of kiloyears of selective pressure to better be able to model human behaviour.

    On paper the book has tonnes of human characters. In reality it's far more alien than 99% of aliens in science fiction.
     
  23. May 10, 2017 #22
    A sci-fi novel with no human characters (or characters who look human or mostly so) - hard to pull off, due to length. But I'll bet there are oodles of sci-fi short stories with no human characters; or with the human characters well-off stage & only non-humans on stage.

    One I've read that quickly comes to mind is Zelazny's "The Keys To December." The protagonist and his sweetheart are part of a large group of persons who came from human stock but were genetically modified (in the womb) to be able to live and work on a particular super-cold planet with a non-oxygen atmosphere and three times earth gravity; however the planet was destroyed in some sort of catastrophe before it could be settled. A description of the hero from early on in the story:
    This group is looking for a new home, so they decide to terraform a world they've selected. The other characters on stage in the story don't have speaking parts - they are members of an extremely non-human, primitive people native to the planet who haven't yet evolved as far as having language. Full text to story (though poorly formatted): http://lib.ru/ZELQZNY/KeysToDecember.txt
     
  24. May 10, 2017 #23
    Spongebob Squarepants.

    Edit: The only Dr Who with no humanoid characters, (aside from the Tardis crew) was clear back in 1966: The Web planet. It was interesting, but rather dragged out. There are lots of episodes where no one is from Earth. Many of the later Tom Baker stories fit this, since Romana, K9, Adric, and Nyssa are all not from Earth.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
  25. May 11, 2017 #24
    Look I'm already two life-times behind on my reading!

    ;)
     
  26. May 11, 2017 #25
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