Re: the merits of Star Trek and Babylon 5...

Anders Sandberg (
06 Dec 1999 14:48:06 +0100

"Technotranscendence" <> writes:

> We might perhaps start a thread on best portrayals of aliens in science
> fiction. My vote would probably go to some of Stanislaw Lem's novels. Any
> other Lem fans here? (See my site for more on Lem.)

Best aliens? Hmm, it is hard to tell how to judge them without any real aliens to compare with. But if we mean that the aliens are thought-provoking, consistent and have complexities similar to human complexities, then it might be possible to compare them. Almost a bit like comparing the character poertrayals of different authors.

Lem is good at depicting post- or near-singularity aliens (or setting up satirical nonsense-comedy, of course). I thought the tines of Vinge's AFUTD were well thought out, although a little bit too human/dog for my tastes (even worse with the spiders of ADITS). Peter F. Hamilton has some interesting aliens in his Night's Dawn trilogy (especially in the last volume).

Hmm... the more I think of it, the fewer *good* portrayals I can come up with. Greg Egan has some weird and wonderful ideas in his books, but they are not very deep portrayals. Brin has plenty of aliens in the uplift universe, some with interesting ideas, but they tend to feel a bit too human (haven't read the second uplift trilogy, which may go deeper). On the other hand, maybe I will completely change my mind once I get the time to look through my sf library.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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