November 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
The dictionary definition for “alien” isn’t very interesting. Merriam-Webster simply defines the noun as an “extra-terrestrial” and the adjective means either “foreign,” “exotic,” or my favorite, “differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility.”
To me, the most alien extraterrestrial would be the one that lacks all human characteristics, which brings us to a more difficult, existential question: what does it mean to be human?
Merriam-Webster comes through this time: it defines humans as “bipedal primate mammals” who are “susceptible to or representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature.” What separates humans from animals – and aliens as well – are our inner properties as much as our exterior ones: the ability to feel compassion, rational thought, curiosity, ambition, even greed.
So my most alien alien would be sociopathic, sentient soup. It puddles at random, sometimes as a colony of liquid aliens, sometimes alone. Acting at random, unconcerned with personal survival or propagation of its race, it would release enzymes to dissolve anything that falls into its morass, indiscriminately consuming food, trash, and family members. It sloshes around ambivalently; even though it possesses the ability to communicate through emitting vibrations, it doesn’t crave company or attempt to make personal connections. Soup doesn’t date or look for a soulmate or have family reunions with that great aunt who always brings gross potato salad. This alien doesn’t contemplate the science of its surrounding world, or consider exploring beyond where it is currently pooled. It doesn’t appreciate the beauty of nature or attempt to create art or literature. None of its species aspire to be leaders, to seize control of the liquid world or be billionaires in liquid money. It just slurps around, day after day, until it evaporates in the sun or seeps into the ground.
The most alien alien would probably be pretty boring.