Thursday, October 13, 2016

Love Aliens? By Diane Burton

Since I write science fiction romance (usually lumped in with paranormal romance), I don’t do ghosts, dragons, or vampires. My creatures are aliens. Not creepy ones, mind you. I’m not into scary. (I still haven’t watched Alien). Still, I love the costumes kids wear on Halloween. I wonder how many Reys, Kylo Rens, or Stormtroopers we’ll see this year.
Kylo Ren


The main characters in my SFR stories are human. Some of the secondary or tertiary characters aren’t. Characters can have purple skin and curly, indigo hair or resembling a Tasmanian Devil, like the ones in Switched. What about reptilians?  Think T-Rex with longer, stronger arms. That’s how I see some of the henchmen in The Pilot (An Outer Rim Novel: Book 1).

One of my favorite TV shows last year was Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge where creature designers created puppets and animatronic characters competing to win a place with J.H.’s Creature Shop. That’s the place where designers created the aliens for Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and—my favorite—Farscape.

Farscape had such amazing aliens I can’t imagine trying to describe them for a story. It would take pages to accurately describe Ka D’Argo or Pilot. The adage of a picture being worth a thousand words is certainly true here.

Ka D'Argo


In my stories, I can’t use a whole page to describe a creature. Readers will skim or close the book. Instead, the reader gets a brief comment or two, enough to imagine the character. A couple of weeks ago, at the Alpena (MI) Book Festival, I met the most amazing graphic artists. Not only do they write great science fiction, they illustrate the stories, too. I stand in awe of those who can draw. Painting a picture with words seems pale in comparison.

While building the worlds in my Switched and Outer Rim series, I made a conscious decision that the inhabitants of the various planets would look different. Even the human ones. Keeping all of them straight necessitated detailed notes. Not only did they look different, they had different religions, expressions, and mannerisms. Did this enhance the stories? I hope so. Our own world is diverse. Surely those who lived on different planets would also be. Do all the aliens celebrate diversity? That would be amazing…and probably impossible. Racism, ignorance, fear, suspicion. We know them well. Why would the future be any different? We can hope our main characters, at least, would not only be tolerant but embrace the diversity of others.

Switched: Kidnapped by aliens? By mistake?

When wise-cracking Jessie Wyndom is beamed from her farmhouse in Ann Arbor, MI aboard an Alliance starship, she meets a regular Mr. Spock. Captain Marcus Viator's well-organized life is turned upside down by a free-spirited Terran. Fate brings them together. Treachery tears them apart.

The Pilot: There’s no place like home . . . and he just confiscated hers. 

Life on the frontier of space is hard enough so when pirates stole Celara d'Enfaden's cargo, she vowed not to be tricked again. Determined to make an example out of indie pilots who disobey orders, Coalition Administrator Trevarr Jovano impounds Celara’s starship and cargo. If he backs down, he’ll lose respect. If she can’t deliver her cargo, she’ll default on her loan and lose her only home—her ship. More important than her ship, though, is her brother. To rescue him from a galactic gangster, she’ll even work with Jovano who is bent on avenging his wife’s murder.

Both Switched and The Pilot are on sale for 99 cents. See my Amazon author page


Ava Cuvay said...

I'm with you on Farscspe... I love that show!! Writing aliens are indeed fun and a great way to address some of today's uglier societal issues!

Author GE Stills said...

Great post


Maureen said...

Love your post, Diane! Nice to get another perspective on aliens- because I have watched (and loved) Aliens and that's usually what comes to mind.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks, Ava. Gene Roddenberry did a great job of inserting modern problems in the Star Trek series.

G.E., thanks for sharing.

Maureen, thanks. I don't like scary stuff. Aliens dripping saliva (or whatever) doesn't appeal to me.

CJ Burright said...

Fun post, Diane! I always loved the cantina scene in Star Wars with all the different aliens hanging out, doing different things. Even though most of them seemed dangerous, they were also fascinating in their variety.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Great post, Diane! I loved that makeup competition show! Farscape too! Asimov was great at bringing humanity's issues into his works, I think. His was the first sci-fi I ever read.

Victoria Craven said...

I thought I was the only one that watched Farscape! I have the whole series in my DVD collection. I read Switched. I can't wait to read the others.

Marissa Garner said...

I admire the incredible creativity it takes to envision entirely different life forms. Way over my pay grade. Very interesting post.

Alicia Dean said...

You are so creative and you do a wonderful job with world-building. I am not into aliens at all, but I do enjoy your sci-fi romance. Great blog post!

Nancy Gideon said...

LOVED Farscape!! Such imagination and depth of characters. The first Alien movie had me eyeballing the hallway all night in case something moved. I really enjoy your take on 'aliens' in your space books (sometimes the humans are the more alien of the lot!). Happy Halloween!

Francesca Quarto said...

Diane, Not that I'm a slow reader, but life keeps getting in the way! Loved the post especially seeing that someone besides me and my husband loved Farscape! It was always a fun series.