Everyone who knows me knows I write imaginative alien characters. But really, writing SF and SF Romance is so much more than creating alien characters.
The world building of an alien culture/character is the most important thing you can do. You really have to do your studying for this. For me it takes a lot of research.
It's still fiction, but if I can't lace my stories with plausible scientific theories it just won't work for me. Now that's not to say I drone on and on about quantum physics. No way, that would bore even me. But alien cultures can be very complex and difficult to execute. I do have to know what I'm trying to relate to a reader. Yet I also give myself lots of flexibility while creating imaginative possible worlds and realities.
Take that awesome theory of traveling faster than light speed--one of my favorites by the way.
Think about this— from my understanding, in Star Trek, the characters travel at warp speed. (Warp 1,2 3 4, etc.) Technically the speed of light is approximately 186,282 miles per second. According to Star Trek, calculating warp speed goes by the warp-cubed method. (X^3) X to the third power. So warp-1 would be speed of light. Warp-2 would be 8 times the speed of light and so on.
Fast yes, but did they ever even leave the Milky Way Galaxy? Remember that ST Voyager got lost in the Delta quadrant— still in our own galaxy. According to the Trek idea, our own galaxy is teaming with intelligent life. Thousands upon thousands of planets with advanced cultures. Science fiction, yes. But based on theories and technology we are verging on now. Still that's a lot of fodder for a writer's imagination!
Okay- moving on to FTL hyperspace and event horizons. Though traveling at FTL (faster than light) varies, speeds could actually reach billions of miles per second. Now we can travel to distant-- Galaxies. Find more life—as much as we know now about quantum physics—there are thousands of galaxies with billions of stars, millions of planets and possible advanced life and cultures. Kind of boggles the mind doesn’t it?
Take the ancient starship in Stargate Universe (SGU) It is traveling at FTL. Faster than light speed – like millions of times faster or else they couldn’t be jumping past all those galaxies.
So in reality, we mere earthlings will have to master and amass so much technology and knowledge before we can even explore our own galaxy, much less others. Well hey, that’s why I love Science Fiction. It lets me live outside the normal realm of present day knowledge and reality as we know it. And I can create imagined worlds, aliens and cultures that could possibly exist somewhere out there.
And those sexy encounters between alien characters from totally different evolutionary backgrounds? I love exploring how they would interact and relate to each other.
So what is your take? Do you like to watch read or write SF/R? If so, what level of technology do you like to see? Do you like aliens that are very different from us?