Friday, January 27, 2017

The Aliens of Halo

The aliens of the Halo universe are, for the most part, a departure from the sort of extremely humanoid, "rubber forehead" aliens we usually see in Hollywood SF. While most of them are tetrapod-like (bilaterally symmetrical and four-limbed) only two are very humanoid, with one being the unfortunate result of a low-budget, live-action series. The aliens of Halo feel a bit closer to what one would find in a science fiction novel and perhaps a bit closer to what might actually be out there. Since they're a step above the typical Hollywood movie alien, I've decided to review their plausibility and offer alternatives where their design falls short in that regard.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Arrival and "Starfish Aliens"

The Heptapods. Painting by Rachel Koning.

Arrival is the adaptation of Ted Chiang's wonderful science fiction short story, Story of Your Life. I had hoped audiences would get to see plausible aliens in the film, because realistic aliens are about as rare as realistic spacecraft in science fiction. Though I wrote an article explaining the quasi-plausible nature of some aspects of the xenomorphs from the Alien series, I can't say the xenomorphs—exactly as presented in the films—are possible as real organisms. However, I do think the Heptapods of Story of your Life are entirely believable as products of evolution on another world. Unfortunately, despite my initial hopes, I cannot say the same about the creatures we see in the film.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How Alien is the Alien?


The titular creature of the Alien series is one of the greatest movie aliens of all time, but how realistic is it? Obviously the filmmakers and H.R. Giger were not setting out to make a hard science fiction film, but just for fun, let's imagine that they had. What changes would need to be made to make the creature plausible? Discussion of how real aliens may appear is obviously speculative, but we can make educated guesses informed by an understanding of evolution and the history of life on Earth. The laws of physics apply everywhere in the universe, and the fundamental principles of evolution are likely to apply as well.