10 Best Articles from Last Year’s Alien August

The Alien August event is in full swing, and we still have many articles and alien profiles yet to share. Since we’re at the mid-point, I thought this would be a good time to look back at last year’s Alien August and remind you of some of the articles we shared during the month.

Here are my 10 favourite articles from Alien August 2013.

Alien Profile: Gublorghas

Cannibal_David_Melvin2This was an alien profile article I penned myself. It was mostly inspired by the fantastic artwork by Dave Melvin of an alien creature eating its own young. Surely no being would eat its own children, would it? I decided to try and reason out what I saw in the picture, and this was the result.

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Featured Story: The Planet Brokers

T_Venus00Our featured story for the month of August 2013 was this quirky, concept-driven piece by Dan Palacios. The Planet Brokers tells the story of how humanity sold the planet Venus to alien investors, and asks whether or not we got a good deal.

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Aliens and Morality

Ferengi_knifeI wrote this article to encourage a discussion on whether or not aliens would have a sense of morality similar to our own. I argued the case that morality is vital to the formation and functioning of any complex society, and that an alien civilization wouldn’t be able to advance beyond a savage hunter-gather society without having some basic rules about not killing eachother etc. Some people agreed with me, others didn’t.

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Alien Profile: The Void People

James Pailly entered last year’s Alien August competition with this interesting description of a civilization that lives within the event horizon of a black hole. It’s a fascinating idea, worthy of an episode of Doctor Who, I feel.

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Alien Profile: The Cooties of Io

Io_lifeform3The winner of the Alien August competition, 2013! Dan Palacios won the competition with his Cthulu Sapiens species, also known as the Cooties of Io. These strange lifeforms live on the moon Io and have a biology and society that is completely alien to our own. It’s rare for aliens to be so completely and imaginatively alien, and I thought Dan deserved to win based on the sheer originality of this creation.

Dan Palacios also went on to write a wonderfully descriptive novella about humanity’s first contact with this alien species, which you can read here.

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Alien Profile: Xenosimias

Xenosimias2_by_M0AIA brilliantly detailed and comprehensive profile of an alien creature by artist Cory Trego-Erdner, and with some great artwork. This wasn’t a competition entry, I just found it on Cory’s DeviantART page and decided I had to share it. Cory is a talented concept artist, and his interest in speculative biology leads him to develop some very interesting science fiction ideas.

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5 Alien August Story Ideas

1234284_689640544382886_270132139_nFive short story ideas, all with an alien theme.

Queen Elizabeth battles invaders from outer space, intelligent plants take up arms, and racial prejudice is expressed via a robot fighting league.

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Cory Trego-Erdner: My Friend the Puyg

Old_Friend_by_M0AI_zoomedFor me, the highlight of Alien August was a series of illustrated short stories by artist Cory Trego-Erdner. These are kinda hard to define; are they illustrated short stories, narrative alien profiles, or just creatively annotated concept designs? I guess it doesn’t matter, they are just exploding with personality and creativity, and I love them.

This description of Puyg is one of the shorter of the set, but it’s a personal favourite.

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Cory Trego-Erdner: Encounter with a Gkaz

Gkaz_by_M0AI_ZoomedAnother short piece describing a meeting with a strange alien creature called a Gkaz. Cory Treg-Erdner has gone out of his way to provide an entertaining narrative to what is essentially an annotation of his artwork, found on his DeviantART page.

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Alien August Roundup

OK, so I’m cheating a little with this last one. This article is a full list of all the articles we published during Alien August 2013. I guess what I’m saying here is that they were all the best, collectively at least.

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If you’d like to get involved in this year’s Alien August, there’s still plenty of time. If you’d like to write a guest article, email me at mark@scifiideas.com. The alien profile competition runs until the end of the month, check out the full competition details here and send your entries to competition@scifiideas.com.

 

  • Kirov

    Really liked the Aliens and Morality article. I hadn’t discovered this site when it was posted, so it was a good read. It seems to me like the big three points you hit were reminiscent of Locke’s natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Although I’m a firm believer in these natural rights, I think it is interesting to explore alternative viewpoints. Specifically, I wanted to question your assumption of the “no theft” rule.

    We all believe theft is wrong, but for theft to occur, the concept of property must exist first, or there is nothing to be stolen. Let’s look at native American society upon the discovery of the New World. The concept of property was not as solidly founded with them. To them, land was shared by all and not owned by any one individual. When settlers moved in and “bought” land from them, the natives didn’t quite understand that they were permanently selling it. This lead to some problems which didn’t end well for the natives. The point is that a society can exist without the concept of property, in which case theft takes on a new meaning.

    To apply this to a potential alien society, let’s say there is a concept of need rather than property. Alien A physically possesses an item that alien B needs. Alien B takes it without permission because he needs it. Perhaps it is possible that a society would not view this as theft because B needed the item. Alien A did not own the item because there is no concept of property, he simply possessed it until someone else needed it. When they did, they came and took it, and both parties understood what transpired.

    I personally wouldn’t agree with this philosophy, but I think it is a possibility that should be considered. I thought I’d just share my ramblings with everyone.

    • Thanks Kirov, glad you like it.
      Yeah I had a little trouble with the no theft rule myself when writing it, but I decided to include it anyway so as to make a stronger argument on the pro morality side

  • Vanessa Ravencroft

    Morality and Ethics…

    Many of our currently accepted perceptions as to what is ethical and what is not, finds it origin based in religion. In the western world specifically the
    Judeo-Christian morale and ethic concepts.
    You may dismiss the influence of religion as the mere word conjures a universal dismissal from the “enlightened crowd” but such basic concepts as “killing
    is wrong”, and the ability to decide what is evil and what is
    good. Is expressed and codified first in the so called 10 commandments.
    The fifth century theologian Augustine of Hippo maintained that evil exists
    only as a privation or absence of the good. Ignorance is an evil, but
    is merely the absence of knowledge, which is good; disease is the
    absence of health; callousness an absence of compassion. Since evil
    has no positive reality of its own, it cannot be caused to exist, and
    so God cannot be held responsible for causing it to exist. In its
    strongest form, this view may identify evil as an absence of God, who
    is the sole source of that which is good.
    A related view, which draws on the Taoist concept of yin-yang, allows that
    both evil and good have positive reality, but maintains that they are
    complementary opposites, where the existence of each is dependent on
    the existence of the other. Compassion, a valuable virtue, can only
    exist if there is suffering; bravery only exists if we sometimes face
    danger; self-sacrifice is called for only where others are in need.
    This is sometimes called the “contrast” argument.

    So discussing any act like stealing, lying. Killing and everything in between two base concepts need to be defined for any civilization or sentient society. What is good and what is evil ? Is there an universal base line of ethics and
    morale?
    Is killing an ant different from killing a human being. If we apply human reason there are countless examples in human history where one ethic view is
    replaced by another, contradicting the each other, yet seen as perfectly acceptable. Ideology can replace ethics. Wars are justified killing and evil and yet are seen as necessary to achieve a “new good”.
    So if ethics and morale are so easily overthrown and reversed on our planet alone, how many forms of ethics and morale might exist out there?

    Ethics is a very subjective viewpoint. The common accepted base line does not even exist between two individuals. Do you think stealing is wrong? A
    thief might argue otherwise. Is rape wrong? Vikings had no problem with that and so had many other societies.
    There are people who oppose abortion and have no problem calling for death penalty. Others claim even the slaughter of a cow is bad for your karma. Both view points are based in religion.
    What about pure logic, free of emotion? Now we are getting to the bottom of it, the concept of good and evil are based on emotions alone.
    Pure logic knows no concept of good and evil, but only cause and effect. Person A takes an object from person B. The concept of owning that object is
    emotional. You owning that car is based on your emotional attachment and the effort you put into obtaining the money to get it. If you did not feel (emotion) the loss as negative you would not see the act as theft.
    However the logical conclusion that the theft of the car makes you walk is a logical conclusion and the effect of the theft. So the logical response is to
    take actions to rectify that ( taking car back, take another one and do so with all means at your disposal.
    Since your actions are based on the sole need of a singular entity (you) a society based on pure logic would not be able to function unless it is a communal one (the needs of many ,,,)
    So any society with individuals needs to develop “common rules” or “ethical
    base lines”
    And we come full circle –
    Ethics are necessary but what form they may take could be as diverse as the shapes life took on.

    VR