Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Non-Humanoid Aliens

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Although Poul Anderson's sf contains many humanoid aliens, it also presents several non-humanoid species. The Alloi have two arms and two legs but there the resemblance ends. Instead of a body, Anderson describes a green stalk supported by two thin flexible limbs with bifurcated digits. The upper limbs fork dendritically. Two wings or membranes have a span equal to the height.

The hair-like smallest fingers cling by molecular wringing and are many times tactilely richer than human fingers. The wings regulate body temperature, excrete gaseous waste and sense, e.g., light. Their light-sensitive organs are simpler but more numerous and diverse than eyes. There is no single equivalent of a brain.

The trisexual Ithagene have four-legged, headless barrel bodies covered by large scales that lift for fluid intake, excretion and sensing with, at the top, four retractable eye-stalks and four tentacles each with four digits stiffenable by turgor. On the assumption that the Ithagene would find a pink, scaleless body repulsive, the Survivors never appear naked in front of them.

There is no conflict between either of these races and human beings.

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