Excellent aliens

Aliens:  an author can invent an alien culture so vivid and believable that you re-think what is normal in the world.  Or, the invention just has a particular quirk that is special and noteworthy.

Here are my favorite examples.

Well-known aliens

Sometimes we’re treated to a view of life from inside the aliens’ point of view.

  • C.J. Cherryh’s Atevi in the Foreigner universe have a culture of assassins, finesse, and numerical felicity.
  • Vernor Vinge wrote a pair of novels loosely linked across millenia (longer). Each book features parallel story lines, at least one taking place amongst the resident aliens.
  • David Brin’s Thennanin – in the Uplift War books.

Aliens – first contact or not-well understood

  • C.J. Cherryh’s Hisa in Downbelow Station, etc. I love the phrase “You make warm we eyes” – the way they speak is great.
  • Elizabeth Moon natives  in Remnant Population – right-foot drumming vs left-foot drumming as a way of reaching consensus.
  • Janet Kagan – natives in Hellspark – I recommend you look up a copy of  this 1988 book – there used copies out there. No, you cannot buy my copy. The natives communicate by rippling feathers.  I am sad that there will never be a sequel to this.
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch – Disty – – Retrieval Artist novels.  I can’t think of another series that explores the concepts of alien law and justice like this.
  • David Brin’s Episiarch in Startide Rising and The Uplift War, and probably other novels in that universe.  Can create rips in the fabric of space-time because it can disbelieve so strongly in its current situation: “The Episiarch, in its outraged rejection of What Is, had created the passage for its Tandu masters. The opening was held by the adamant power of its ego – by its refusal to concede anything at all to Reality.”  …  I’ve been on a project or two managed that way…
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