Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Aliens…or fun inventing new cultures!

Posted by: Shona Husk

As much as I love the human drama of Battlestar Galactica, there is a lot of fun to be had when writing about aliens. When writing SFR the aliens can’t be too weird or the reader might struggle to connect (pretty sure no one wants an amorphous blob hero who lives in the gas oceans of Jupiter). The aliens have to be relatable which is why so many aliens are humanoid.

Unless they are evil aliens and then they tend to be insectoid (something to do with our fear of bugs and spiders?).

One of the challenges about writing aliens heroes and heroines is to make them alien and yet not too alien. It’s not just the way they look either. Their culture can’t be so far flung that you need to write a 300 page historical account of the development of the world and the cultures before you get to the story (totally fine to do that while word building, that’s what notebooks are for….*pushes notebooks full of the history further under the desk*).

When I set out to write Desire to Fall I had a very simple idea: the women have wing and the men don’t.

From that idea I was able to tease out what their world would look like. It wouldn’t be like ours at all for the simple reason that men and women would have occupied different evolutionary niches. Breeding would be an issue, how did they negotiate that back in the day as Stone Age people? How does that relate to how they live now?

When I answered those questions I came up with a society where bisexuality was the norm, but breeding was dangerous and their crimes and taboos came back to the hazards of breeding. If you are going to invent a new world you also have to invent the darker side, not just the good bits.

As someone who grew up reading fantasy, but who went on to study engineering, I love SFR because it has all the world building of fantasy but instead of magic it has science. SFR delivers that thrill of diving into another world.

Do you have a favourite alien?
I think Farscape was pretty good with their aliens. Doctor Who has had a few interesting ones in there.

Desire to Fall
Dru slipped his hand free and ordered two glasses of kurin. The place was just a little too try-hard for his taste. Glass and wood and techno paint, the music was recent chart toppers, and the snacks mimicked the latest fad. Apparently they should be eating what they had back when men had first tried to climb trees to get to the women.

Food was now divided by gender.

He scanned the menu. There was a selection of insects and fruit concoctions under the female section and meat and root vegetables for the men. At the bottom they had the old standbys that everyone liked. He didn’t need to be told what to eat. Smoked jillo leaves it was.

“So where is she?” Dru leaned against the bar. When he’d looked up the place, he’d known the location was a test to see how high they could get on midlevel. He was also expecting Kya to be here already, probably up above watching them. He let his gaze drift.

“Er…not sure yet. There are so many people. Do you think she comes here often?”

“No.” Dru sipped his drink. If he was meeting people for the first time, he wouldn’t be inviting them to his local. But many people weren’t as careful as him. “Maybe.” He shrugged. “Only one way to find out.”

Tref scanned the aerial bar and lowered his gaze just as quickly. “She’s wearing a pink dress, and with a dark-haired woman in a suit.”

“The two who just landed?” Dru couldn’t help the curve of his lips as Tref drew in a sharp breath. He’d never seen Tref get so flustered by a woman. It was a real pity Dru was leaving tomorrow. He’d like to watch this interaction play out a little longer.

Kya folded her wings after landing neatly in the clear drop zone from the aerial bar. Her friend followed. Where Kya was golden, like the Huntress made mortal, her friend was pale-skinned and with dark hair. As she turned, Dru sucked in a breath.

He leaned closer to Tref. “Her friend is Judge Elmi Chadee.”


Dru lowered his voice. “Judge Chadee was on that case last year. If Kya moves in those circles, you’re reaching too high.”~~~
Kya Hawl is an architect on the Precinct One redevelopment, a prestigious and contentious project in the city-state of Velli. While she is happy with her part-time female lover, Judge Elmi Chadee, she wants more. She wants a family and children, for that she needs two men willing to put their life on the line to breed.

Tref Xant and his partner Dru Macon seem like the right guys; however, Tref has secrets and Dru is about to deploy to Precinct One, one of the roughest precincts in Velli. The redevelopment can't come soon enough. Tref would like to see the place burned to the ground. But even that wouldn't be able to erase his memories of growing up there.

With Dru away Tref finds himself falling for Kya. Jealousy sparks between the men. A triad can never form as Dru wants Elmi and she has sworn off unions after her sister ran away to join the Terrin Sect.

As riots erupt and the redevelopment is threatened Dru realizes he has to fight for what he wants--something Tref learned long time ago. A four-way union--while unusual--would work. But will the women agree when they learn of Tref's past?


  1. Sounds like a really neat world! I really love the aliens in Star Trek Voyager. I think they did a great job of creating species (?) that were different, yet relatable. In particular, I like the Hirogen. :)

  2. My favorite aliens are the atevi from C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series.


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