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What do you consider to be the most interesting alien race?

  1. May 15, 2016 #1
    I have a fondness for the Moties from The Mote in God's Eye and it's sequel, The Griping Hand. They are a hierarchical society with a biological necessity to reproduce or die. This leads to incredible population pressure and resulting societal collapse. Being "trapped" in one solar system they became the ultimate fatalists, believing that the "Cycles" of society would be repeated eternally until/unless the Moties finally wiped themselves out completely.

    Second in line would be the Kzin, the universe's poorest diplomats.
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  3. May 15, 2016 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    I always thought the most interesting alien race was women.

    The griping hand? Would that be the one you complaining people to talk to, or the one that always complains?
    Both your examples are from Niven's work ... there, the interesting extraterrestrial would be the Puppeteers or the Outies.
    However - Humans manage to be interesting aliens on most Worlds in n-space... Niven comments that "Old People" are basically alien in the Beowulf Schaeffer stories.

    In Manikins by John Varley (Find it in the Barbie Murders anthology) the alien is a small worm that attaches itself to the Human vulva, sending roots into the vagina, and pumping the hapless human full of hormones to affect a physiological change and rendering the host a passive vehicle under control of the worm.
    These beings have taken over the World and are mistaken for another gender of human by the real humans.
  4. May 15, 2016 #3
    The griping hand was the third Motie hand, the one they used to life the air car while tinkering with the engine with the other two. In current usage is indicates a third opinion or position in a conversation.

    "Yeah, Kzin are tough."

    "But puppeteers are clever."

    "On the griping hand humans are resilient."
  5. May 15, 2016 #4
    The 'Q continuum' of star trek was an interesting idea.
  6. May 16, 2016 #5
    I also thought the Q was a very interesting "species." The Borg as well are one of my favorites.

    My all time favorite alien species though are the xenomorphs. Bulletproof skin, fluoroantimonic acid blood, and can live undisturbed in derelict ships for eons? Crazy as hell.
  7. May 17, 2016 #6

    Simon Bridge

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    Does this use of the complianing hand involve abiogenesis of the aircar then?
    I think you intended to write "gripping hand" there ;) "griping" is a form of complaining.
    Of course I know the Moties from "Mote in Gods Eye".
    It's a bit of mischeivious fun off an inadvertent spelling mistake... on the other hand, it is a bit pedantic considering I knew what you meant. The gripping hand, though, is that the persistence of the mistake multiplies the lulz :D

    Dan Obannon's Xenomorphs - the eponymous "Alien" of the movie.
    The main issue I have with them is that they are "man in rubber suit" aliens.
    Q and Borg are still routinely "human" looking, sis-humanoid(?) - with human values - though that may be an improvement on the usual Trek "magic spot of light" alien.

    Na'ka'leen Feeder (Babylon 5) manages to be a non man-in-rubber-suit alien. ST:TOS did have an early non-sis-humanoid in the Horta of Janus VI.

    But that's like movies and TV.
    Early SF could get very strange ... but I think weirdest tend to be things like the Mi-Go: the Fungi from Yuggoth.
  8. May 17, 2016 #7
    Ah, but the thing about Q was that it could appear in any form it chose to, it was an odd looking plant in one case.
  9. Jul 1, 2016 #8
    Any of the First Ones from Babylon 5, but especially the Vorlons and Shadows. We got to visit Zha'ha'dum but we only saw the briefest of glimpses when it came to the Vorlon homeworld. It would've been cool to see more.
    One of the opportunities they seemingly overlooked on Star Trek was in City on the Edge of Forever. The best (and perhaps the safest) thing to use the Guardian for would be to see the City as it was before it was in ruins. Meet the aliens that constructed such a powerful time machine. Since that planet was insulated from changes in the timeline it would have been pretty safe to make that journey and learn more about them.
    Also from Star Trek, the Melkotians. What's life like as a giant paper mache head?
  10. Jul 6, 2016 #9


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    The Fithp from Niven's and Pournelle's Footfall were an interesting race. Built like a baby elephant with a bifurcated "trunk" that ended in tentacle-like "fingers". They evolved from work animals bred by a now extinct race and developed their technology with the the help of "Crib notes" left behind by their predecessors.
  11. Jul 6, 2016 #10
    Good choice. Not humanoid.
  12. Jul 6, 2016 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    I think white mice are the most interesting race of aliens. But dolphins are cool. After that, I would say the makers of the monolith in 2001, 2010, 2061. Also, I especially liked the overlords in Childhoods End because they looked like Satan and were the origins or the image... retro-temporally. The other that comes to mind are the Puppeteers in Ring World. They had proven mathematically that they have no afterlife so there were masters of safety design. And only the Puppeteers who are insane would deal with an implicit threat like humans.

  13. Jul 6, 2016 #12


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    I can't remember the name of the story, but there's one about a race of aliens that live on the surface of a neutron star. Not only are they not humanoid, their biology isn't even based on chemical reactions, instead being based on the nuclear forces if I remember correctly.
  14. Jul 6, 2016 #13
  15. Jul 6, 2016 #14
    Reminded me of Heavy Planet By Hal Clement.

    For a profit -- and adventure -- Barlennan would sail thousands of miles across uncharted waters, into regions where gravity itself played strange tricks. He would dare the perils of strange tribes and stranger creatures -- even dicker with those strange aliens from beyond the skies, though the concept of another world was unknown to the inhabitants of the disk-shaped planet of Mesklin.
    But in spite of the incredible technology of the strangers and without regard for their enormous size, Barlennan had the notion of turning the deal to an unsuspected advantage for himself . . . all in all a considerable enterprise for a being very much resembling a fifteen-inch caterpillar!

    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  16. Jul 6, 2016 #15


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    I have copies of both Mission of Gravity(which includes "Whirligig World" as an afterward) and Starlight as individual publications plus a number of other books by Clement. He is one of my favorite hard SF authors.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  17. Jul 6, 2016 #16
    Did he write "Needle"? Alien symbiot seeks outlaw on atoll where humans are trying to turn algae into crude oil.
  18. Jul 6, 2016 #17


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    Yes, and the sequel Through the Eye of a Needle
    Other titles include:
    The Nitrogen Fix
    Ocean on Top
    Cycle of Fire
    Close to Critical
    Still River

    I've also got a "Best of Hal Clement" anthology and a first edition of Natives of Space, a collection of three of his novelettes.
  19. Jul 7, 2016 #18
    Thanks. I didn't know about the sequel. "The story of a boy and his blob."
  20. Jul 20, 2016 #19
    I'm a huge fan of Zerg from Starcraft - alien common brain and consciousness is really appealing
  21. Jul 23, 2016 #20


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    The Rorschach in Peter Watts novel Blindsight.

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
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