Thursday, 8 September 2011

Further Thought

In the annals of our alien fiction and imagery it was always the more-humanoid of extra-terrestrials whom I empathised with the most. I could relate to the Cybermen more than the Daleks. This is strange as I'm a self-confessed animal lover, which would suggest that I might empathise with less human looking aliens more than most. I suppose I'm simply humanising all aliens through my instinctive programming. I feel that Jabba The Hut is menacing and I feel that Ewoks are cuddley. Will I apply the same instincts when faced with real cosmic visitors? Is this likely to be common experience?

Klatu barada nicto.


  1. If you ever do come face to face with an alien - and I consider the likelihood as vanishingly small - but IF you do ... I suspect the reaction which will kick in will be fear.

    Your instincts will tell you that everything about this (alien) being is ... well, err, alien. They will tell you that key aspects of this person/creature/whatever is "wrong". It moves "wrongly"; it's body language is "wrong"; it smells "wrong" .... etc ... and as a result fear will kick in .... or one of its other faces, such as panic, anxiety, etc.

    A long time ago I faced a situation something like this. No, not an alien, but a situation where I saw a completely new kind of body movement - something I had never seen the like of before. And for a few seconds total, abject, paralysing fear set in.

    I was shaking for hours afterwards, and kept replaying the scene over and over in my mind, trying to understand it. Of course, this was just a human situation. And I'm not going to embarrass myself by telling you what it was i witnessed. The point of the story is that when faced with something the brain interprets as totally "wrong" or "different", fear is the instinctual response.

    As for your empathising more with the humanoid aliens in SF .... look back and ask yourself if that is always the case. Good-guy aliens are likely to be portrayed as humanoid (it's an inherent bias) ... in those cases where they weren't, I wonder if you empathised more with the 12-legged, furry, pink, drooling swamp monster DESPITE it's differences ... cos it was the goodie?

    And one final thought ... IF you ever do meet with an alien, make sure you carefully read the title of whatever it's reading. Keep in mind the Twilight Zone story "To Serve Man" .... and if it's carrying a book called "How to Make Friends With Aliens" ... it might just be a construction manual which requires human body parts (grins). Don't say i didn't warn you!

  2. I agree Toadster. I imagine that an alien will most likely be lethal to humans and most probably something tiny such as bacteria. But then again, as HG Wells suggests, our Earth may be lethal to them. By the way, don't watch Apollo 18. Yuk!

  3. No, I don't mean they will engender fear cos they are a threat. They will do so simply cos they will set off our internal alarm bells ... and will do so whether or no they are inimicable.

  4. Good points, Toad!

    Gordon Long

  5. You should read H. Beam Piper's "The Fuzzy Papers"...cuddly 'Native Americans'

    Having picked-up a baby squirrel (to put back in the tree it's mother was chattereing like a machine-gun from) and had it bite right through my thumb, nail an'all, I've learned my 'Cuddly Alien' on Earth!

    'Humacre'...the face you make when something cuddly rips your flesh!...Zappa! (and why was he shaving with a weasle anyway?)

  6. Ouch, Maverick! That sounded painful.

    Oh, the Fuzzy stories from H. Beam Piper were great! At least two or three authors have tried to right sequels since then. I can't recall if I've read them all or not. But I actually picked up a few of these at a bookstore last month. Piper's Fuzzies and Other People, and one sequel Fuzzy Bones by William Tuning (plus Piper's Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, I'm also a sucker for the alternate history genre when there are alternate worlds and travel between them...)

    Gordon Long

  7. Does sound painful, indeed! :(( Hope you bit it back?

    For anyone interested, there is lots of fiction by H. Beam Piper available for free, here (in various formats too):

  8. A squirrel dropped a hazel nut on my head the other day in the garden. Me and dog looked up to see a furry face peering down at us from the canopy! Felt like First Contact! Trouble is neither Blue or me spoke Squirrel!


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