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

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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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  • #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.
 
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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."
 
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The 'Q continuum' of star trek was an interesting idea.
 
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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.
 
  • #6
Simon Bridge
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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.
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.
 
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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.
 
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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?
 
  • #9
Janus
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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.
 
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Good choice. Not humanoid.
 
  • #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.

Pierson's_Puppeteer_illustration_from_Barlowe's_Guide_to_Extraterrestrials.jpg
 
  • #12
Drakkith
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Good choice. Not humanoid.
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.
 
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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!


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017CJOWTG/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
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  • #15
Janus
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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!


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017CJOWTG/?tag=pfamazon01-20
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.
 
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Did he write "Needle"? Alien symbiot seeks outlaw on atoll where humans are trying to turn algae into crude oil.
 
  • #17
Janus
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Did he write "Needle"? Alien symbiot seeks outlaw on atoll where humans are trying to turn algae into crude oil.
Yes, and the sequel Through the Eye of a Needle
Other titles include:
The Nitrogen Fix
Iceworld
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.
 
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Thanks. I didn't know about the sequel. "The story of a boy and his blob."
 
  • #19
I'm a huge fan of Zerg from Starcraft - alien common brain and consciousness is really appealing
 
  • #20
EnumaElish
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The Rorschach in Peter Watts novel Blindsight.

wikipedia said:
The crew determines that Rorschach must have learned Human languages by eavesdropping on comm-chatter since its arrival. They deduce that it must have arrived sometime after the Broadcast Age from to the nature of its speech and vocabulary, and that it has been in-system for quite some time. Over the course of a few days many questions and answers are exchanged by both parties.
Eventually Susan James, the linguist, determines that 'Rorschach' doesn't really understand what either party is actually saying.

Theseus probes Rorschach and finds it to have hollow sections, some with atmosphere, but all extremely lethal: Some "killing you instantly" and others "only killing you in a matter of hours". Since probes and robots are found to be completely ineffective due to the extreme amounts of radiation and EM interference, the whole crew except the mission commander, explores Rorschach in short forays series, each one increasingly invasive than the last. They discover the presence of highly evasive, fast-moving 9-legged organisms dubbed 'Scramblers', of which they kill one and successfully abduct two for study. The 'Scramblers' appear to be seem orders of magnitude more intelligent than human beings, but are more akin to something like white blood cells in a human body and they seem to completely lack consciousness.

The crew explore questions of identity, the nature, utility and interdependence of intelligence and consciousness. They theorize that humanity's could potentially be an unusual offshoot of evolution since most life in the universe appears to be of the replicating, non-sentient type that do not waste resources on ego or other "navel- gazing".

...

The alien creatures encountered by the crew of the Theseus themselves lack consciousness.[6][7][10][12] The necessity of consciousness for effective communication is illustrated by a passage from the novel in which the linguist realizes that the alien creatures can't be, in fact, conscious because of their lack of semantic understanding:

"Tell me more about your cousins," Rorschach sent.
"Our cousins lie about the family tree," Sascha replied, "with nieces and nephews and Neanderthals. We do not like annoying cousins."
"We'd like to know about this tree."
Sascha muted the channel and gave us a look that said Could it be any more obvious? "It couldn't have parsed that. There were three linguistic ambiguities in there. It just ignored them."
"Well, it asked for clarification," Bates pointed out.
"It asked a follow-up question. Different thing entirely."[13]

The notion that these aliens could lack consciousness and possess intelligence is linked to the idea that some humans could also have diminished consciousness and remain outwardly functional.[7][8] This idea is similar to the concept of philosophical zombie, as it is understood in philosophy of mind. Blindsightsupposes that sociopaths might be a manifestation of this same phenomenon,[7][9]and the demands of corporate environments might be environmental factors causing some part of humanity to evolve toward becoming philosophical zombies.[7][10]
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindsight_(Watts_novel)
 
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  • #21
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No love for Coeurl? Immortal-ish, powerful, so intelligent he could cobble together a spaceship without ever having left the planet, and so very, very lethal.
 
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Wow. This is an interesting question. It's funny, while I love the idea of aliens in Science Fiction, I never think of aliens in Science Fiction. I know creating aliens is the hardest part of working on my own stuff: I don't feel I have any real aptitude for it, and I'm always second guessing myself--but on to answering the question: the Puppetteers have already been mentioned. There are the two species of aliens that fly created by Poul Anderson, I just found the name of the one species--the Avolonians--I can't remember the name of the other species. I suppose the Star Kings, from Jack Vance's novel of the same name, come to mind: a species that looks almost exactly like Homo Sapiens, but has a very different psychology. Star King is also a something of a mystery novel, which is something I find interesting.
 
  • #23
EnumaElish
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The Morlocks and the Eloi still give me chills every time I think of them. I think they are well qualified as aliens.
 
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The Morlocks and the Eloi still give me chills every time I think of them. I think they are well qualified as aliens.
I play with the idea of doing an alternate history in which another intelligent (well, intelligent to our standard) primate evolves on an alternate Earth. They have the same, genetic relationship with the orangutan as we do with chimps. The idea is that they remain tree dwellers, and spreading across the planet turns them into master foresters.
 
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I'd say Kryptonians because, well, Superman.

Alternatively, I also enjoyed the Asgard in Stargate. They always seemed pretty badass fighting self-replicating superintelligent AI.
 

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