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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

ALIEN SEX by author Margaret Fieland

I read a review of a science fiction book recently in which the reviewer commented that he had particularly enjoyed the book because the aliens in question were really alien and not some sort of human in disguise. This interested me particularly because when I invented the aliens in my recently published novel, “Relocated,”I went to some lengths to insure the opposite: that they weren't too alien. 
All of which brings me to my musings about what goes into creating an alien species, and the series of questions an author must ask themselves: what do they look like, how many limbs do they have, where do they live, what do they eat, how many planets do they occupy, what is their government like, what are their cultural values, what about their art, literature, music? What about their sex lives? How do they interact with other cultures? I could go on.
Those things, in my opinion, the fluff: what in my day job we call, "simple matter of programming." The real question for any author to ask is, what is their role in the story, and what, therefore, are the required characteristics? What is the theme the writer is exploring, and what part do these aliens play in it?
Now wait, I hear you saying, all I wanted was a list where I could fill in: Six limbs, no external ears, speech not audible to humans, reproduces by fission. Why do I have to decide on how they play into my theme? 


Um, well, because that's the question from which all others spring. Is your main character going to get up close and personal with the aliens or are they going to bomb the hell out of each other? How large is the canvas on which you're painting? Are the aliens part of a bunch populating a bar on some space station or other, or are they going to play a major role in your story? And, perhaps most important: do they interact with human in the story, and if so, how?

Sometimes the requirements are simple. I wrote a short story involving an alien species where they needed to look alien, be able to communicate with humans, albeit with difficulty, and drink whiskey. The last was the most important. Since I'm hoping to get the story published, I'm not going to say more. Not a lot of brain sweat went into inventing those particular aliens.
In “Relocated,” my recently published novel, I needed my aliens to look only slightly alien, because (warning, spoiler alert) one of my characters is a human-alien cross who was "passing" as human. In order for this to be believable, I needed enough background to justify this. 

Stories need conflict, and I wanted one of the conflicts in the story to be the discomfort my character feels when plunged into the alien society. I wanted the culture of the aliens to be different –and in some ways, disturbing – enough so that my character would find integration into alien society a challenge, but not so different that he would find it impossible.
Why? I wanted my character to straddle both societies and be forced to make a choice, and how I styled my aliens grew out of this. I didn't want clash of empires. I wanted culture-clash and individual angst. That's where my interests lie, and those are the kinds of themes I'm drawn to. 
I wanted to push the envelope in at least one area, and I chose sexuality. While there were other ways in which I made my aliens, alien, the sexuality piece and how their family organization, sex lives, and reproduction differed from humans was the keystone. 
Okay, you asked. My aliens form committed relationships involving, typically, four people, and the relationships involve same-sex as well as opposite-sex interactions. I had to tread lightly, however, as this was a novel for young adults. 
And so my character becomes involved romantically with an alien. The two characters do nothing more than kiss.
I hear you saying, "Oh, darn it." Never fear, I'm working on a couple more books set in the same universe, and one of them is an adult science fiction novel with a mixed-sex menage involving three men and a woman. One of the men is human, and the other two men and the woman are aliens. 

Face it, sex is interesting.. Even alien sex.
 
 
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3 comments:

Margaret Fieland said...

Thanks for hosting me today.

Nancy Lee Badger also writes as Nancy Lennea said...

What an interesting story. Makes me think, which in turn helps me write.

Karen Cioffi said...

Peggy, great post. I admire you and those who can create complicated alien stories. Sounds like you have a lot in the works!