Thursday, 1 August 2013

Eden's aliens

In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about writing alien characters in science fiction, with the following seven rules. 
  1. Introduce them first through other characters discussing them – that’s how we often get to hear about interesting people
  2. Don’t over-describe, let the reader’s imagination have a light work-out
  3. Make their dialogue different in its lexicon and rhythms
  4. Show how their society works (e.g. hierarchy, dominant sex, etc.)
  5. Show their value structure through cultural references (‘Giver’ instead of 'sun', etc.)
  6. Make the reader care about the aliens, rather than them just being there as a prop (this can include making the reader hate the aliens)
  7. Remind the reader that these beings are not human, they really are alien
Since then, in Eden's Revenge (book 3 of the Eden Paradox series) I gave a list of the aliens occurring in the first three books, as below (mainly in Eden's Trial and Eden's Revenge):

Eden’s Aliens & Artifacts
Alicians – a neo-human race genetically-altered by the Q’Roth to increase intelligence, resilience and longevity. Alicians are named after Alessia, their founder, who brokered a deal with the Q’Roth in 1053 AD to prepare humanity for culling, and to eradicate Earth-based nuclear and nano-based weaponry, in exchange for genetic advancement and patronage. 

Dark Worms – leviathan-like creatures who live in the space between galaxies, feeding off both dark and normal energy sources. They are almost impossible to kill. Normally they are kept outside by the Galactic Barrier, which was breached by Qorall’s forces.

Finchikta – Level Nine bird-like creatures who administrate judicial affairs for the Tla Beth, e.g. during the Trial of humanity in 2063.

Genners – following the Trial of humanity, prosecuted by the Alicians and the Q’Roth, mankind was quarantined on Esperia for its own protection and all children genetically upgraded to Level Four (with Level Five potential) by the Ossyrians. ‘Genners’ surpass their parents intellectually by the age of nine.

Grid – a ring-shaped transport hub that runs around the inner third of the galaxy, for ease of commerce. Grid Society – established by the Kalarash ten million years ago, based on a scale of levels of intelligence running from one to nineteen, with Kalarash at the top. Mankind was initially graded Level Three.

Hohash – intelligent artifacts resembling upright oval mirrors, designed by the Kalarash, known as ‘omnipaths’ due to their powerful perception, communication and recording abilities. True function unknown.

Kalarash – Level Nineteen beings believed to have left our galaxy. Only seven remain in the universe. Little is known about them. They are called ‘the Progenitors’ by many Grid species, as the Kalarash fostered civilisation in the galaxy, based on a strictly hierarchical intelligence-ranking system.

Mannekhi – human-looking alien race except for their all-black eyes. Level Five. Sided with Qorall in the ongoing galactic war, due to millennia of oppression under Grid rule.

Nganks – full name Ngankfushtora – squid-like Level Twelve cosmetic surgeons usually reserved for higher species.

Ossyrians – dog-like Level Eight medical race, charged as humanity’s custodians after the Trial, their eighteen-year long stay on Esperia led by Chahat-Me.

Qorall [kwo-rahl] – ancient enemy of the Kalarash and invader of the galaxy.

Q’Roth [kyu-roth] – Level Six nomadic warrior race currently engaged as soldiers trying to stop the progress of Qorall’s forces across the galaxy. The Q’Roth are formal Patrons of the Alicians.

Rangers – Level Fifteen taciturn reptilian creatures working for the Tla Beth.  Ranger Shatrall crash-landed in Tibet in the twelfth century and realized the Q’Roth had targeted humanity for culling. He was unsure the Level Three assessment was correct, and so unofficially warned a local tribe who became the Alicians’ principal adversary, the Sentinels.

Resident – internal alien-designed symbiote implanted in Micah’s head prior to the Trial of humanity, which acts as a semi-intelligent Level Five translator, with various additional survival-based functions.

Scintarelli – Level Twelve legendary master shipbuilders, whose shipyards dwell in gas giants. Their star-ship designs include the Starpiercer and the Scythe.
Sclarese [skla-ray-zee] Nova Stormers – Level Nine semi-intelligent stealth missiles based on energy amplification technology, aimed at turning stars nova. Built by the Sclarese.

Sentinels – blood enemies of the Alicians, involved in a silent war over a period of centuries. Last remaining Sentinel alive is Ramires. Sentinels were famous for their nano-swords, able to slice through a Q’Roth warrior’s armoured flesh.

Shrell – Level Nine matriarchal ray-like creatures who live in deep space, guardians and ‘gardeners’ of the space-environment, invisible to most other species. As well as protecting and ‘fixing’ spatial tears, they can also ‘poison’ space. They work for the Tla Beth.

Spiders – Level Four race harvested by the Q’Roth one thousand years prior to the culling on Earth. Homeworld called Ourshiwann, renamed Esperia. Visual-oriented race, otherwise deaf and mute. Now live in Shimsha, near Esperantia.

Tla Beth – Level Seventeen energy creatures, rulers of the Grid in the absence of the Kalarash. Homeworld location unknown.

Wagramanians – Level Seven forest-dwelling tripeds famed for art, but also used as shock-troops during times of inter-stellar war

Generally I've stuck to my seven principles, and there are a few more alien races to be introduced for the final book in the series, Eden's Endgame. This makes for a pretty complex 'tapestry' onto which I'm superimposing the final installment, particularly as most of these races are meant to be more intelligent than humanity. However, taking a leaf out of David Brin's Sundiver and Uplift series, even though humanity are 'wildlings', they have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

Is there any inter-species sex? Er, yes, though nothing graphic. Do some readers care more for the aliens than the human characters? Oddly enough, what most people comment on is the Hohash (e.g. "I'd like one please"), and the Ossyrians get far more interesting in Eden's Revenge, so that some readers do care when a bunch of them get killed. The Mannekhi, Kalarash, the Tla Beth and the Rangers also seem to have caught readers' curiosity, and they will all feature large in Eden's Endgame. But the focus stays on the human characters most of the time, though several of them have been 'augmented'. However, the Prologue to Eden's Endgame, which will focus on what happened two billion years ago in a distant galaxy, an event that was the antecedent of the 'current' galactic war, will have no human characters in it whatsoever. That's going to challenge me...

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