At a recent conference I participated in, our panel talked about world building. One panel member in particular, talked about building alien worlds. Something she said stuck with me and really made me think. Okay, and maybe this is totally obvious, but I’m going to mention it anyway since it made an impact on me.
She said not to make your aliens humanoid.
We all know I’m a Trekkie. Love it. Watch it all the time. And sure, at the end of ST:TNG, they finally give an explanation of why so many of the races they’d encountered were humanoid. DNA had been seeded around the galaxy if I remember correctly; we haven’t gotten that far rewatching the series yet. But to tell you the truth, it never once bothered me that so many races were humanoid. I didn’t even really need an explanation. Sure, it was a laughing point, but that’s part of the point, right?
Even Isaac Asimov in FOUNDATION had an explanation: everyone originated from Earth (right? it’s been a long time).
If/when I write a space-based novel, I’d almost certainly stick with humanoid aliens. Maybe it’s the easy way out. Maybe it’s easier for the reader to relate to the characters. And if I do this, I’m guessing I’d come up with my own explanation for why the aliens had two arms and two legs and all the other general human features. After all, editors and agents do like the “why” question answered.
So what do you think? Humanoid aliens or not? Which do you like? Which would you write?
PJ Hoover wonders if humanoid aliens are living among us right now :)