What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?
… and for once, I thought I had an answer. Before I do, here’s a shout-out to our wonderful co-hosts this month. I don’t give our hosts enough kudos in these posts, but I do appreciate them. Thank you!
Co-Hosts for May 2017:
Liesbet @ Roaming About
Writing research for alien species
I am writing a science fiction series. I’m convinced it’s a real series, although by now some of you may think it’s a figment of my imagination, it’s taking so long to come out. During its development, I realised one very good reason people generally make their aliens humanoid. Apart from films, where it’s easier to put a human in a costume than build things more elaborate than Daleks, unless you go CGI.
Along with rolling things round like my brain like:
- how do you get a vacuum cleaner to work in space (real space, not in a space ship)
- what effects do things like different air mixtures have on non-mammal species
- what does it actually do to someone to grow up on a higher/lower gravity planet, or one where light levels are lower
- how does the human(oid) body evolve in these situations
… and then there were more philosophical questions like
- what do these species think about in their spare time
- how do their eyes influence their world view
- what type of myths and legends, and belief systems do they have
I could go on. You get the picture. This is a very easy area to go off at a tangent for months. It’s also very easy to find something irrelevant when looking on Wikipedia and spend the day on some other pages entirely. But I had a specific concern about insects, and the odonerata species in particular, which my reference books didn’t cover.
Mammals v Reptiles
Then again, reptiles. I had reptoid species, which I didn’t know much about, physiologically speaking. It’s all very well to give Mr Spock two hearts and green blood, but…. what makes reptiles very different from mammals? I never got as far as dissecting frogs in biology (I think I might have refused), so my knowledge of these things was very limited.
So I asked my vet. She was fascinated by the idea, as I hoped she might, and we talked for a while about differences in reptiles and mammals. (Our vets do a lot with lizards, chameleons, and snakes; I even saw a stick insect there once). One bit of trivia: reptiles don’t respond well to oxygen if you’re trying to get them to breathe, because they tend to absorb it through their skin. If you give them oxygen to help them breathe, they’ll probably not bother to breathe at all. I paraphrase my vet’s comment, and may have got it wrong! But that was something I took away. She was also kind enough to look out some scientific papers she thought I might find interesting. I did!
I’m not sure that I’ve used any of this research specifically, but it opened my mind to other possibilities, and when inventing aliens, that’s no bad thing.
Found anything weird in your writing research lately? Especially all you crime buddies 🙂