Across the board, aliens have been a staple in science-fiction. Whether we are talking books like War of the Worlds or the Barsoom Stories or talking about film like The Day the Earth Stood Still or … Alien, extraterrestrials have been a major player in sci-fi stories.
Let’s be honest, whatever variation of little green men a creator decides to use, they can have multiple levels of impact on a story.
Some aliens represent racial relations in our current world. Or the aliens can represent something mysterious and introspective. And sometimes the alien is simply a terrifying antagonist.
A lot of these representations require some deep thought.
That’s not what a creator is always going for. Sometimes we just think it would be neat to have a character with six eyes who speaks with a Scottish accent.
One of the core storylines of science-fiction is interaction with the unknown.
So … are aliens necessary?
Some of the greatest science-fiction stories are simply about humanity’s interaction with the future. In those cases, the future is the unknown.
I do love the twist that not all that’s alien is in fact foreign.
Books like Niven‘s Integrity Trees or Hogan’s Code of the Life Maker have divergent humanity creating an alien species.
Then there are stories without the hint of alien life. Firefly and Andy Weir‘s The Martian or Artimis novels are about humanity in the depths of space with the setting being the only alien character revealed. This doesn’t detract from the sci-fi nature of the stories. In fact, it heightens the humanity and makes the stories just a touch more believable.
Some might call aliens cliche or a trope, but realistically they are just part of the genre that can be used to paint a story in the reader’s imagination.
Just like a piece of any genre, aliens can be hokey or terrifying, sympathetic or misunderstood, dominant or peaceful. Like a detective story utilizing a knowledgeable coroner or a romance having the best friend who is full of realistic advice, aliens serve a purpose in moving a sci-fi story along.
Aliens might not be necessary, but they can be a spaceship full of fun.
* * *
I just took a month-long vacation from writing, and I can say it was the most unrestful vacation of my life.
However, I have a new bathroom to show for it.
Now, with school starting back up, Atom, Margo, and the crew are getting back on track. The second draft of book three is moving. The choices Atom is being forced to make aren’t getting any easier.
Well, I’m going to get back to it.
In the meantime, keep on reading, keep on watching the seasons change, and keep on flying the Black.
One thought on “Are Aliens Necessary?”
“Books like Niven‘s Integrity Trees or Hogan’s Code of the Life Maker have divergent humanity creating an alien species.”
I wan thinking about “Children of Time” by Adrian Tchaikovsky from 2015. Interesting concept of humanity fleeing a broken Earth to mold a new one in their image, only to fail and create an intelligent species of spider.