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Humanoid Aliens

Are non-humanoid aliens too hard?

Have you ever noticed that a lot of science fiction stories fall into one of two camps? Either the whole galaxy has been colonised by humans or the aliens are a threat.
In the first case, although people live on other planets and/or moons, they are all human colonists, so there is no need to describe aliens or alien cultures. The science fiction is describing the spaceships and advanced technology, but the characters are familiar humans with human characteristics. In the second case, the aliens are a threat, so the imagination can run wild describing them and their diabolical schemes, but the main characters are all humans fighting to save Earth or humanity. Even then, the aliens are often humanoid.
Alien cartoon
Don’t get me wrong, there are some cracking good stories in both these camps, with great plots and well-drawn characters. But I feel that the authors maybe avoided having to describe aliens too much. On TV and film, until the advent of CGI, alien characters had to have costumes that fit on a human body. Even Doctor Who Daleks had a man crouched inside.
Intruders cover
In my case, the spaceship Kestrel has an inter-species crew, and they all have to use the same controls and equipment. So they are all humanoid, but I have tried to make them and their cultures very different. However, in the first book, Intruders, the Kestrel meet some incorporeal aliens who communicate partially through colour. I’m proud of that, but I still had to make them able to assume a humanoid shape to enable communication with the Kestrel crew.
ET the extra terrestrial
I’ve been trying to think of great science fiction books with non-humanoid aliens, and I have a couple in mind but can’t remember the titles! Perhaps you can list some in the comments. The only one I can remember is Ringworld by Larry Niven. In films, the main ones that come to mind are ET and Alien and Predator, but I think all those aliens still had two arms and two legs.

Ann Marie Thomas authorAnn Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, Intruders, Alien Secrets & Crisis of Conscience are out now Follow her at