I can’t think of a time when I didn’t know about or believe in aliens. I was raised in a home where everyone read scifi and fantasy, where we listened to David Bowie in his alien persona, where we understood, as Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson will confirm, that this was not the only planet with life on it. That doesn’t mean, aside from a brief stint of buying deeply into conspiracies when I was 13 and had learned—from Ender’s Game and Dune—not to trust authority, that I focused a lot of time or thought on the possibility that aliens were already here and being hidden by the government. Nor does it mean that our household was somehow constantly centred on or discussing The Aliens. It was more just that I never considered it remarkable to believe aliens existed. This always made the universe seem full of possibility.
When I was in the dreaded throes of puberty and feeling a bit like an alien myself, I sometimes told myself that maybe I had just been born on the wrong planet. But, even more effective for soothing my sense of discordance with my environment, I also spent as many hours as I could immersed in fiction that was full of aliens and space travel and the like. I was a scifi girl long before anyone might argue that I should call myself a woman instead. So, as we discussed how to pull apart “scifi” and make it into a few themes for Most Worlds, spread it over multiple months, I was entirely on board with Aliens getting a month of their own. Let’s be honest: we could spend the lifetime of this blog on aliens and never run out of subject matter.
Even people who don’t really think of themselves as geeks have made up the movie-going and TV-viewing public that keeps scifi films and programmes profitable enough to keep making them. The alien as a character type serves so many purposes. They give us a new enemy or a new saviour, they open up possibilities for plots and solutions beyond the repetitive constraints of this one little planet, they let us explore themes of outsiders or difference in a roundabout way (they’ve stood in as symbols to call out the inhumanity of humans or the illogical nature of our knee-jerk prejudices against those who aren’t like us). For the truly brave writer, they’re a chance to create a character who doesn’t even look like anything we’d consider humanoid or maybe we wouldn’t even initially recognize it as life at all. You can go so many places with a chance like that!
We won’t cover every alien, every franchise/film/programme/book, or even every type of alien or alien-involving situation. We’ve narrowed this month down to the topics that, in our planning week, were currently most interesting to us (and then had to narrow even more given that we each write basically three posts per month). In good news, it means we have no choice but to revisit aliens in the future. So, set aside your xenophobia (but keep your weapon handy, just in case) and come hang out with us and some folks who aren’t from around here.