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Friday, 28 May 2010


I could buy aliens, but not aliens that
look  like  Fifties’ comic art.  They’re  semiotic  phantoms, bits  of  deep
cultural imagery that have split off and taken  on a life of their own
          from ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, William Gibson (1981)

Eeleen’s blog, stardate 29/05/10: My attempts to people (hah!) my science-fiction narratives with workable aliens have resulted in unusual abdominal pains. A xenomorph, or the green curry I had for dinner last night, could emerge from my stomach at any time.

You, sitting there and reading this blog, what comes to mind when you hear the word, ‘alien’ ?(and I don’t mean for immigration purposes..) Little green men waving ray-guns? Thin bug-eyed grey men wielding rectal probes? Colourful outlaw folk that frequent the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars? Those beings in Star Trek uniform with bizarre facial markings? (Oh sorry, those happen to be Star Trek fans …) Some of you may recall HR Giger’s Alien and the Predator with a shudder. How deeply these images have permeated our popular culture. Now, GET THEM OUT OF YOUR HEAD!!!

Finished? When you have banished the last pop culture alien from the orbit of your intellect, sit down with your preferred poison (An ice-blended sencha, Diet Coke and Nutrasweet in my case…) and ponder on alien possibilities.

Notice that I didn’t say, ‘possible aliens’. Then the usual stock questions would emerge, "What if they have six eyes, no mouth and communicate by telepathy? What if they look like giant praying mantids?". Cutting and pasting from a bizarre Identikit does not help your cause.

The most plausible alien possibility is that mankind will find an alien artefact. Only because humans have jettisoned so much rubbish into space, we do stand a chance of chancing upon some debris, even if it is the interstellar equivalent of a soft-drink can. We haven’t actually seen aliens upfront (despite accounts from hillbilly truck drivers) so your story become more credible when it rests on evidence of aliens.


Lydia Kang said...

My first thoughts of aliens are very Men In Black-ish. I have little imagination for them so I borrow others!

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Lynda Young said...

The best alien depiction I ever encountered was a tree that moved. No fangs, no tenticles, no humanizing of it. It was just a small tree that moved in search of water for its roots. I dunno. I just thought it was cool.

Anonymous said...

I read Whitley Strieber's Communion series, and I always picture the little grey men with big heads and almond-shaped eyes.

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