I’ve admitted before I’m not good at writing/thinking about aliens. It’s not that I think they can’t exist (logically they should.) It’s that I have next to no interest in them. Sure, the point at which humans interact with aliens is interesting but that’s about it.
You see, I like humans. The ways in which we fall short of the ideal and sometimes manage to be better than any idea fascinate me. I might actually be interested in humans interacting with aliens. Full disclosure, I have a novel where aliens are the very bad guys somewhere in the endless cue. But they are also incomprehensible. We don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing or if they’re bad guys according to them, because they’re DUH alien.
I am not so Odd that I don’t get that people write aliens to explore facets of humanity that they know just can’t be so. I do GET that. I just can’t do it, because in my deep brain I don’t believe we could understand aliens enough to make them interesting. Rather, I think if they interact with us they’ll be like the forces of nature: remote, unknowable, and just happening.
Mind you, yeah, I also have a space opera called “translators in space” that will probably never get written because every year I’m further away from what I knew of language and linguistics. (No, seriously. I should have written it in my twenties. Ah well.) In those the aliens are really humans. Or rather, maybe elves. They are like humans with some essential differences.
Oh, okay, fine. This being an Odd audience I’m going to guess everyone here has heard of the man who walked around the horses (yes, I know. Probably assassination, blah blah blah. Bear with me.) There was a similar case in 1992 when we’d just moved to CO. Girl on a hike with a group, walked a little ahead, around a rock. There was nowhere else for her to go but the trail. but she vanished, they couldn’t find her, no one ever found her. There were stories at the time of people who vanish into thin air. Believe it or not a trivial number of people have.
In this world, these people would get kidnapped, because some program identified exceptional ability at languages. You see, aliens do exist, many of them. And they trade. But no other species has the ability to learn languages. Languages are hard coded. So they kidnap humans, who don’t even know they exist, give them immortality treatments and auction them to be translator son alien ships.
The aliens are like those in the Weber-Ringo Prince Roger series. Human-analog-aliens.
And you guys knowing me, you probably know how the series would go. The first novel would be called Star Tongue. Anyway — G-d only knows if I’ll get to it before I die, but…
The aliens are still not real aliens. Because real aliens, my back brain thinks, would be incomprehensible.
All of which is still preferable to — well, mostly leftist — writers’ tendency to remake humans.
I don’t know if I ever told anyone at large (my friends know) my impetus into writing was the same as most writers. I read something that drove me nuts and made me go “Oh, no, it wouldn’t be THAT way.”
I’m strange only in that I was very young and that the book that caused this reaction was a classic of science fiction The Left Hand of Darkness.
Let me start by saying that I LIKED the book. Loved it even. Mostly because it was different and it made me think. (Like other books of the time, it didn’t age well, mostly on language, but also structure, which I guess was innovative and daring at the time, but strikes me as “too early seventies for words. Not this might be JUST ME but there’s a whole batch of books — one Heinlein — I can’t stand to re-read. I came of age in the seventies and eventually grew to loathe that false-craft feel of art at that time. No one else is forced to agree with me.)
But part of what made me think — because my relaxing reads are books on evolution and animals and their biology and behavior (guys, I read Konrad Lorenz for fun) is that the left (and at the time anyone with even vague intellectual pretensions was at the very least soft left, because the zeitgeist was) was very funny about humans.
They often opened their books on humans by gesticulating broadly at imaginary religious fanatics and rubbing said fanatics’ noses in the fact that “we are animals. No, we’re really animals.” And then proceeded to go a little bananas, sometimes in supposed non-fiction, like Desmond Morris in The Naked Ape, which assured us only humans killed their own species, or something equally ridiculous (I read it at around 14 or 15, I just remember his thesis that humans were uniquely vile made me snort-giggle at the time. Because, you know, you can sustain that if you’re religious, and say humans should aspire to the divine image, but if we’re really just animals, there is NO vile. We do what instinct and nature tell us, no judgement, right?)
But mostly this dysfunction showed in science fiction, particularly at the time. “We’re just animals. If we just changed/removed/tweaked x y z we’d be communitarian, sharing, no war animals.”
The way hermaphrodites behave in TLHOD made me snort/giggle too for various reasons, the first being that hermaphrodite species on Earth (granted mostly very small) have some of the most violent mating behaviors in the world. Makes sense since at least in live-bearing, or for that matter those who care for eggs, species, the cost falls on the one who carries young or sits on eggs. The other one just goes off, whistling his merry way and lives to mate another day. So in a species where either of the couple can bear, there would be a “war” (There are several books on war of the sexes in various species, which has led to things like praying mantises and duck penises.) to determine who bears. And yes, she did get right that in an intelligent species, value would have to be put on children-of-the-body or no one would want to do it. (Or most children would be conceived by rape. Which to be fair, is most hermaphrodite species on Earth.)
What she got wrong, related to that, is then having the kids raised in some sort of hippie dippie commune.
In fact, the whole setup makes perfect sense as a professional woman’s fantasy. “I want to have kids, but someone else raises them, and it will be the perfect communitarian family and no one will think it’s bad if I’m not there, or take no more interest in them than in any of the family kids.”
In point of fact, from evolutionary pov, an hermaphrodite species would have a hell of an attachment to their own biological “of the body” kids, for the simple reason that otherwise, being intelligent and able to circumvent instinct, no one would have kids “of the body” and those born of rape would be abandoned to die. World’s shortest species/race/breed.
Yes, I’m sure that some human (and these were supposed to be modified humans) tribes have done the communitarian child raising, but it’s not the norm, it’s not usually as communitarian as it looks and…. oh, heck, even extended family raising the kids, which it sort of is, is nowhere nearly what US leftists think it is. There’s squabbles, politics, and the mothers very much care and “pull” for their own kid.
Anyway, it amused me because it was nowhere near the only. There was this trend back then for hermaphrodite modified humans that somehow made them more cooperative/better at not warring, etc, which I found absolutely mind bogglingly bizarre and made me wonder why people thought injecting the fierce young-protecting instinct of the female into a species at large would make it more sharing and caring, not the other way around. (And lord, study any society with multiple concubines and wives. Women protect THEIR children, there is no sisterhood or love all babies, when yours is in the mix. Some of the most horrific tales of mankind are the vengeance wrought by a woman on rival women AND THEIR BABIES.)
So this caused me to write my first book. And yeah, my biology was better, but honestly, the writing sucked, mostly because well… I had no clue how to tell a story.
But you know, the left looks at “we’re all animals” and instead of viewing it as the permanent struggle of humans and what we, religious people, view as “needing grace to overcome the animal” (We never thought we weren’t animals. What do you think most of the admonishments of religion: original sin, fallen nature, clay of the earth, etc. are all about?) they think they can just wish away.
Honestly, it shouldn’t surprise me how people who tried to levitate the Denver mint with their minds also think that the “natural human” would be perfect and sweet and cooperating if “capitalism” didn’t corrupt him.
I just sort of assume they’ve never paid attention to how humans work, including themselves.
From eugenics “we’ll breed this bad trait out.” To open borders “all cultures are equally valid and nothing bad will result from mixing them willy nilly, also they’ll all change to the perfect, inborn socialist culture of all brown people” to “if we just distribute all the wealth, everyone will work for the joy of it” the left is at war with reality, and the reality of humanity most of all.
We’re animals, okay? Sure, some of us aspire to being better than that, but it’s not magic, and the macro system changing won’t turn us into angels. (Except in the sense it kills most people, so I guess….)
Nah. If the left truly believes that, we’ve found the aliens.