When I started this project, I made a conscious decision not only to make my sentient aliens mostly human-like, but to make that a potential plot point. Somewhere, probably during the rewrite, I’m going to have to have someone point out that everyone not of one’s own species looks like his, her, or its local analog to the Earth ape: bipedal, round head with a nice big brain for thinking and stuff, four to six fingers on each hand and foot, and a tongue flapping around in the mouth for speaking. There’s a reason for this, and I thought it’d make for some cool meta-science. I call it that because it’s not pseudo-science (though it might turn out to be), merely an idea that hasn’t had enough real-life examples to become a theory. No, it won’t be aliens seeding human-like life throughout the galaxy (though I have come up with a couple of races resulting from exactly that.) It’ll be something a bit unexpected.
But the walking, talking beings with the technology and the weird behavior are not the only aliens out there. This takes place on a distant colony (not too distant. You can see our sun in the night sky from there) on a very Earthlike planet. Humans have settled there because it’s suited for flatland farming and because it has native livestock that the carnivores of humanity find rather tasty.
Since this is a largely rural setting (and I’ve blown up most of the cities anyway), I’ve come up with the beasts that creepeth upon the Earth (Well, the Earthlike planet). Mind you, this list is subject to change in the rewrite, but I’ll give you a taste anyway.
- Moosalo – Big shaggy mammals about the size of a hippo, but with long shaggy fur like buffalo. The bulls have rounded antlers. Hence the name.
- Squonk – Really ugly rodent-like creatures, so far only seen in the subways of of a destroyed city. Mostly scared of these naked-ape aliens that came and built cities on their native world, but quickly discovered what rats have known about humans for millennia: People put out some tasty garbage and are just as scared of squonks as squonks are of them.
- Gossalope – Nimble forest mammals often hunted for game. Favorite prey of the…
- Lycanth – Roughly similar to a wolf in behavior, but more like the werewolf of Earth legend. Generally afraid of humans unless food is scarce. Can move bipedally or on all fours. Have large cat-like claws.
- Ursoid – Named for bears, probably more like a yeti (Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman), though more ferocious. Not seen in the story yet, though two characters hear one at night.
I mention insects, though this being an alien world, they would not be true insects. I haven’t mentioned birds yet, though in my fannish days, I usually referred to flying mammals or reptiles in lieu of them. That might be a good practice to resurrect here.
One idea I may hold back for something elsewhere in this universe (Different story, different characters, same fictional universe) is the idea of orca-like beings recognized as sentient life forms on the world where they are discovered. I’m of the belief that orcas and dolphins are, indeed, sentient, though if the tables were turned, they would likely keep humans in captivity and be just as puzzled if we suddenly turned hostile to our trainers. We’ve had centuries of believing these creatures were merely beasts, fostered by the legend of Jonah and by Moby Dick. So changing our thinking about them might take a long time. Finding similar creatures on another planet and deciding they’re the native intelligent species might be a no-brainer, however. They’re aliens. They don’t have to look or talk like us.
But it’s an option.