What would aliens actually look like?

It is quite easy for a Sci-Fi author to make their aliens very human-like (guilty of charged– as in my upcoming novel, Silversides); trying to write a story where they are nothing like humans creates a lot more work for the author, even if that alien does not have a speaking part.

November Seed

Alien in, November Seed

Both of my novellas (November Seed & From Europa With Love) have aliens that are not human-like and have no dialogue, so to make these stories credible, the biology has to be right.  It helped me immensely that in my former life I was a Marine Biologist–I had been studying alien life forms my entire life it seems and it is not by coincidence that in both my novellas the alien life forms are marine in nature.

Representation of alien in, From Europa With Love

But if you are new to writing Sci-Fi and do not have a background in Marine Biology, there are countless videos like this excellent BBC short from the BBC Ideas section to start you on your way.

So where does a new writer of Sci-Fi get started with understanding alien life?  Below are some good short video to get you on your way.  maybe, just maybe will will find out in our lifetime when we can get a probe below the surface of Europa to explore its thermal vents…. but then again, maybe we do not want to go three.  Europa seems to be a focus for NASA and other scientists as a first strike for alien hunting.  And why not?  t was mine in From Europa With love.

 


On this date, five years ago. Somewhere in NYC, I began to write.

It is hard to believe that five years ago, on this date in a NYC coffee shop on the upper east side, I started my writing career. You can see other frustrated writers around me, but this cozy place became the catalyst for putting pen to paper, or in my case, fingers to keypad.  Since then, my debut novellas, November Seed & From Europa With Love, continue to have steady daily downloads on Amazon and the fan base, spread over eight countries, is still growing.   So thanks to all who support and push me onwards.

For the past few years I have been working on a full-length novel called Silversides which  takes place on Gliese 581 g.  As a new writer, I discovered why only the most seasoned writers leave the planet to tell a story and why most extraterrestrials come to Earth to kick our ass… because when you leave the planet you have to invent everything.   Along the way, I have written out weak characters and developed new ones, dragging along Kulcin who is the protagonist in, From Europa With Love.  Writing is a process of one step forward, two back but I have made some great plot changes with refined twists and developed a new ending the reader will not see coming.  Finally I can see the light at the end of the editing tunnel having received great feedback from Betabooks.co 

I do not follow a linear path and have several other novels in the treatment stage that I am equally excited about, such as: HUM, Suicides Of Spring and Glycerine to name a few.  Recently, I have joined forces with a fellow writer (G+’er) to compile a list of shorts we have written and put out onto various sites, such as: Offworlders.com (my favorite), Wattpad (where one of my shorts made it into their premiere eZine, TEVUN KRUS).and other author/reader sites.  But it is G+ that has taught me to be a better writer because of the  invaluable advice and knowledge learned and shared by such super cool folks.

Sargassum and the art of writing about what you know

Sargassum, as seen here in the curl of the wave, drifts ashore when the winds are steady, rolling into massive piles along the littoral zone, crucial for the ecology of barrier islands. Is it coincidence or by grand design that it is washing ashore during a super moon, when the highest of tides will push it further up onto the beach, trapping the sand with it to build up our dunes? Here in FL, there is a strong conservation not to clean this up as other states do for the benefit of tourism. A mistake. Some folks see this as an annoyance, their tender virgin feet having to touch it on their way to the water.

But Sargassum serves such an important role in the nurturing of juvenile species of marine life, some who will spend their entire lifecycle within the floating mass known as the Sargassum Sea. Sargassum is one of my favorite seaweeds in the class Phaeophyceae. In fact, my upcoming novel, Silversides, has most of the characters named after a class of macroalgae: Phaedra, Rhodes, Kora, Cody and my protagonist, Nori. Kulcin (main antagonist) on the other hand comes from a previous work, From Europa With Love, and what an antagonist he is. Of all the characters, he refuses to let me write his dialogue. Stuborn….

 

Writers are taught, “Write about what you know.”  But Sargassum?  It does not always need to be a subject matter that you are an expert in.  What it does require is for you to connect with your story in terms that you are an expert in.  In my case, once I named my characters after classes of seaweed, I was able to connect with those characters like never before and my story came to life.

Alien sound coming from Mariana Trench

trenchOriginally reported by The Sun, Researches picked up an alien sound while their hydrophone was over the Mariana Trench.  Although whale like in nature, it does not quite fit the patterns of what researchers already know. To listen to this sound,  Click here.  Initially, they thought it might be a mating call from whales, but they are thrown off by hearing this sound year round.

There was a follow-up piece on Wired,

The mystery of the ‘alien call’ deep in the Mariana Trench is solved

which seems to indicate it is a Baleen Whale…. but the article does end with… “more data needed….. ”

It does make for good Sci-Fi, especially now that I have been working on a treatment called HUM, which is about an alien life-form that was attracted to Earth by its sound.   Yes, yes, I know… sound does not travel through space… but other signals do and who is to say what wavelengths aliens can hear.

Excerpt from Silversides – Chapter One

Chapter One – Arrival (Draft) 

Kelp.jpg

Silversides / David Nadas 

Chapter One: Gliese 581 Solar System – 2132

Far below the rolling swell of the Monterey Bay where the endless trawl of current hooks along the ocean floor, a giant kelp began to lose its grip on the weakened shale; each surge tearing away the finger-like tendrils, each tear drawing in the Garibaldi that swam nearby.  With a final tug the kelp ripped free, igniting a rush of orange through the kaleidoscope of sunlight; the Garibaldi snatching at limpets raining down through the cloud of trailing silt, their jaws no match for the limpet shells snapped in half.

Nori Matsui had been diving nearby hearing these sharp clicks radiating around her, a trigger that it was time to rise.  She exhaled through her artificial gills she followed the stream of bubbles rising and crawling along the cave ceiling, ushering her out into the open water and toward the neon light from above.  Nearing the surface her gills began to sputter, her breathing labored as if drawing air through a straw. Low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels in her bloodstream appeared on her oculars, a dangerous mix where blacking would come without notice.

Kicking and clawing her upwards, she broke through to the surface and pulled the regulator from her mouth, gagging on its chase of tendrils that slipped greasily from her throat.

After thirty years aboard the starship, Hoshi Akari, Nori Matsui was the first of her crew to be awakened by a custom dream applet.  She sat patiently until her breathing settled taking caution not to scratch her pupils with her carbon-tipped fingernails as she peeled away the paraffin covering her eyes.   Unclothed and suspended above a bath of orange cryoGel she squinted against the starbursts of neon blue that lined her bay; beyond that was blackness.

The Correlation Engine and Intelligence Lab aboard the Hoshi Akari, known as CEIL, raised the ship’s lighting to a golden hue, simulating the lighting on Dykazza, where its red dwarf sun cast a permanent twilight over the surface.

Silversides – Character Study – Nori – Protagonist

SilverSides_CoverThis is a character study of Nori Matsui, the protagonist in my upcoming sci-fi novel, Silversides.  This particular excerpt may or may not make it into the second volume, but it is no less accurate of the events to unfold.

Silversides: Excerpt – Exiting the Necker Cube

“Nori,”  he said attempting to regain her attention.  He was speaking more softly this time, very controlled in a commanding tone he knows gets questions answered.  He waited for eye contact and brushed at his scalp as though having just walked into a cobweb.  “Who exactly are you?” and not waiting for an answer, “Where did you come from?”  Then leaning in closer,  “Tell us again, why did you come here?”

Nori paid little attention to the talking suit, instead focused on her cuffed wrists locked into the grommet of the table, which like her chair, was bolted into the concrete floor.  She studied the burn marks and scratches on the metal, wondering how many others had sat here to the drone of these same questions, whether they were a petty thief or, as she was, someone who had just traveled twenty light years and back through time.   

She raised her attention to the decorated suit of the man, with the port of his belly and chubby arms braced on the table-top, with his manicured fingers rolling inches away from her own.  How easy it would be to reach out and break every one of them before you would ever feel the blinding pain of it, she streamed into him.

Without knowing why, he curled his fingers into his palms

“As I stated earlier,” Nori answered.  “I am here alone.”

The suit pushed up and away from the table with the crack of his back the only audible sound in the concrete room.  He stood there momentarily then began to  nervously massage the folds of skin on the back of his neck.  Unsurprisingly to Nori, he hammered his fist onto the metal table and leaned in close to her face.

“Stop fucking around and answer the goddamn questions!” the spittle from his charge landing on her cheeks but her eyes never blinked.

Nori had been mouthing every word the suit was saying before he did, her blue left eye and green right eye, unnerving him as she did.

He could see the slight extension of her smile, and lost it.

She knew what was coming next and took the blow of his back-hand across her mouth, pausing briefly for the effect before sweeping her tongue beneath her lip, watching him shake off the hurt like he had just punched a brick wall.  He could see there wasn’t a mark or expression on her; just the feeling of deep hatred streaming into him.

“CHIEF!” Shouted a woman’s voice from behind as she stepped out from the shadows. “That will be enough! Now leave here immediately or–by God–I will see to it you spend the remainder of your career at Shemya!”

Knowing she did not hand out threats, only promises, he turned away from Nori to face his Commander-in-chief.

“Madame President,” The Chief Executive Officer acknowledged with a submissive nod, then he turned to the the Marine standing at attention, who opened and closed the steel door behind him.

The president asked for a chair and sat opposite Nori.

“I deeply apologize for my Chief’s behavior….  Inexcusable,” she said with disgust. “I assure you, that will never happen again.”

Nori did not respond, nor did she care.

The President felt something slip over her and brushed the flip of her hair.

“Tell me.  Why did you come here?  Why Times Square, the most recognizable place on this planet?  Surely, you could have picked someplace more hospitable, say–“

“Paris?” Nori said finishing her thoughts.

“Yes… Like, Paris…” the President reiterated, her throat suddenly dry and her alarm apparent.

“I thought about that…” Nori paused. “Paris will always remain a place of inspiration for me, but New York?  New York seems right… So here I am, Times Square… The center of the Universe.”   Nori could feel the hidden fright of the President, having just read her mind.

“You need to shut down five-eighty-one,” Nori cautioned.

“What is five-eighty-one?” the President questioned, the chevrons on her forehead lifting and indicating she was clearly in the dark.

“Start with your Chief,” Nori suggested.  “He’ll be sitting in your seat…”