I recently asked Daniel M. Bensen to describe for us the interesting world of his story: New Frontiers, and some of the interesting alien races he’s devised!
New Frontiers is a science fiction novel I recently finished and it does something I haven’t seen before, which explore how aliens can be irrational.
Irrationality (meaning a tendency for a person to do things not in line with their goals) is a big part of human life, and a lot of it comes from our instincts, and a lot of those instincts come from sex. We don’t make the same sort of decisions about sex that we do about tax reform, and its reasonable to assume that aliens won’t either.
But how exactly might aliens be irrational? It depends on what kind of sex they have, of course.
I designed the five species of New Frontiers from the reproductive system up, with nods to some of the odder sex lives of real-life organisms.
Oonkhs: Like clownfish, oonkhs change sex depending on social hierarchy, with a big male “husband-pet” for every harem of “owner-wives.” Remove the male, and the highest-ranking female will assume his role, nearly doubling in size and gaining the strength and agression necessary to defend the harem from other males. In addition to his guard duties, an oonkh male must keep a watchful eye on his own wives because, like ruffs and many species of squid and fish, females may also turn into crypto-males and breed with other members of the herd unbeknownst to the husband-pet. Oonkh females (the major decision-makers in all oonkh cultures) therefor find sneakiness and jealousy to be masculine and erotic, and solve problems by smashing them.
Beezles: Like myrmecophytes and photosynthetic corals, a single beezle is actually a colony of several species: the ant-, wasp-like eusocial “bugs” whose communication-dances form the consciousness and short-term memory of the beezle, the coral-producing “polyps” that feed the bugs and form a home and long-term memory storage for the bugs, the “xoox” algae that turn sunlight into sugar within the polyps, and the “roaches” that carry the whole bushy hive from place to place. Like plants, beezles can clone themselves to produce a “scion” or reproduce sexually to make a “pippin,” creating a society of clone Lineages whose cross-fertilization occasionally produces geniuses. They trust others based on how much genetic material they share, and relations with un-related people are strictly mercantile, and always fraught with danger.
Aahas: Aaha nich-partition based on sex. Like deep-sea angler-fishes, their females are large, stalking the ground while the males prefer to live in forest canopies. Their medical technology allows them to live as separate children for many times a human lifespan, but if they want to be recognized as legal persons, aahas must eventually pair off. When they do, the male clasps himself to the female’s back, and then never lets go. The aaha couple spends the rest of its life as a single person, the male and female halves even completing each-other’s sentences like plain-tailed wrens. They place a great deal of emphasis on consensus and completeness, and tend to ignore the opinions of individuals.
Pnamns: Like sea-hares, pnamns are hemaphroditic, and determine responsibility for offspring by violent duel. The pnamn penis is a calcified dagger sprouting from the end of its long, serpantine body, and pnamn sex is over when one pnamn stabs the other. The looser bears the responsibility of bearing and raising the resulting offspring, although most pnamn cultures agree the winner should also pay some form of child-support. This tendency to duel extends throughout pnamn psychology, from science to sports to politics. Make a pnamn feel like it has lost, and it will do whatever you say. Loose to a pnamn, and learn to embrace servitude, at least until the project your joint project is over.
The world of New Frontiers is our world, Earth, only thirty years in the future and after an alien invasion.
The invasion came in the form of the Wave Front, the leading edge of a bubble of artificially modified physical law, expanding from its origin at the speed of light. Subsumed by the bubble, Earth is now in a zone of space where faster-than-light travel (as well as some other high-tech magic) is possible, and travel to us has become economical.
A generation later, Earth hosts permanent residents of four alien species, a missionary aaha and his human wife, a pharma-prospecting beezle and his (their) cloned scion, a diplomatic herd of oonkhs, and a construction crew of pnamns. Each with their own biases and mutually conflicting missions, difficult to understand, and possessed of technology that borders on magic, even these few representatives of galactic civilization have irreversibly altered the course of human history.
The beezles’ pharma-prospecting in the Amazon and Congo basins gave the native people of those places access to alien technology they’ve used to secede from the rest of humanity. The “Amazonians” barely even look human any more, and the world is deep in a cold war between them and everybody else. That “everybody else” is increasingly lead by the centralized European Union, whose capitol, Brussels, is the only human city where aliens live, and the only place where anyone outside Amazonia has made any progress with understanding the aliens and their technology.
The key is sex. Whatever distances of culture and evolution exist between us and the aliens, we are all self-replicators. We evolved under the imperative to breed, and we can all get turned on. Of course there’s no guarantee that an alien will feel well-disposed to an exo-erotic diplomat after an bout of highly-skilled, extremely motivated, and blisteringly expensive pleasure. Usually, though, the Client is more willing to talk after an Encounter, and the human Kink is always ready to listen and take notes.
It’s a living. For the whole human species.
Written by Daniel M. Bensen. All artwork by Daniel M. Bensen, check out the rest of his artwork here on DeviantArt.
New Frontiers is for beta-readers! Read and comment on the book and Dan will draw for you the alien of your choice. See this page for details.
You’ll find more information about New Frontiers here on Daniel’s website.