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Work out your world and its creatures as long as it remains fun; then Write your story, making use of any of the details you have worked out which help the story. Write off the rest of the development work as something which built your own background picture—the stage setting, if you like—whose presence in your mind will tend to save you from the more jarring inconsistencies I use this word, very carefully, rather than errors. Remember, though, that among your readers there will be some who enjoy carrying your work farther than you did.

They will find inconsistencies which you missed; depend on it. Part of human nature is the urge to let the world know how right you were, so you can expect to hear from these people either directly or through fanzine pages. Even if he is right and you are wrong, he has demonstrated unequivocally that you succeeded as a storyteller. You gave your audience a good time.

Wikipedia has a nice article on Hypothetical types of biochemistry. He points out some other possibilities. Note that the "temperature" column has the information needed to set the borders of a solar system's circumstellar habitable zone for that particular biochemistry. Temperatures assume the planet has about 1 atmosphere worth of pressure. Silicon-based Life ". Life on Terra is based on Carbon, since carbon can join with not one, not two, not even three, but a whopping four other atoms. This allows the construction of complex molecules like proteins and DNA, a requirement for living creatures.

The only other element that can do this is Silicon, so the SF writers seized it. They are also fond of harping on the fact that while most carbon-based animals on Terra exhale gaseous carbon dioxide, a poor silicon-based critter would breath out silicon dioxide, i. In "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley Weinbaum is a silicon life creature that "exhales" bricks of silicon dioxide, which it uses to build a pyramid around itself. Other chemical elements that are not impossible as the basis for alien life forms include ammonia , boron , nitrogen , and phosphorus.

There are even more extreme possibilities.

There are several possibilities for the composition of alien blood. An example of electronic life is the superconducting mentality in Sir Arthur C. Clarke's " Crusade ". Their "bodies" are organized clusters of millions of tiny whirlpools in still ponds. Another odd one was the Monolith Monsters. They were not invading aliens so much as an extraterrestrial chemical reaction. Instant monster: just add water. In parallel, I am trying to push research frontiers on biosignature gases. Beyond this factoid, we found something fascinating.

We are starting to work through identifying the molecular fragments that life avoids.

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It turns out that most N—S bonds are very reactive in the presence of an S—H bond hydrogen-sulfur , and S—H bond—containing compounds are a key for life. It appears that life could have a metabolism based on S—H or on N—S bonds, but the two are incompatible. If we were to encounter life on another planet that for some reason relied on N—S bonds, we might actually dissolve each other.

We would be poison to each other. So, in going through all the molecular fragments in gases, liquids, or solids rarely produced by life, we are hoping that it will help us understand something about the origin and evolution of life. Radiotrophic fungi are fungi which appear to perform radiosynthesis , that is, to use the pigment melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy for growth.

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This proposed mechanism may be similar to anabolic pathways for the synthesis of reduced organic carbon e. However, whether melanin-containing fungi employ a similar multi-step pathway as photosynthesis, or some chemosynthesis pathways, is unknown. Radiotrophic fungi were discovered in growing inside and around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that three melanin-containing fungi— Cladosporium sphaerospermum , Wangiella dermatitidis , and Cryptococcus neoformans —increased in biomass and accumulated acetate faster in an environment in which the radiation level was times higher than in the normal environment.

Exposure of C. Similar effects on melanin electron-transport capability were observed by the authors after exposure to non-ionizing radiation, suggesting that melanotic fungi might also be able to use light or heat radiation for growth. However, melanization may come at some metabolic cost to the fungal cells: in the absence of radiation, some non-melanized fungi that had been mutated in the melanin pathway grew faster than their melanized counterparts.

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Limited uptake of nutrients due to the melanin molecules in the fungal cell wall or toxic intermediates formed in melanin biosynthesis have been suggested to contribute to this phenomenon. It is consistent with the observation that despite being capable of producing melanin, many fungi do not synthesize melanin constitutively i.

The exact biochemical processes in the suggested melanin-based synthesis of organic compounds or other metabolites for fungal growth, including the chemical intermediates such as native electron donor and acceptor molecules in the fungal cell and the location and chemical products of this process, are unknown. They get along like chalk and cheese.

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Very like chalk and cheese, really. One is organic, the other isn't, and also smells a bit cheesy. Dwarfs make a living by smashing up rocks with valuable minerals in them and the silicon-based lifeform known as trolls are, basically, rocks with valuable minerals in them. In the wild they also spend most of the daylight hours dormant, and that's not a situation a rock containing valuable minerals needs to be in when there are dwarfs around. And dwarfs hate trolls because, after you've just found an interesting seam of valuable minerals, you don't like rocks that suddenly stand up and tear your arm off because you've just stuck a pick-axe in their ear.

But even if you handwave that away and declare that there are lots of different species of aliens, there is plenty of room for imagination. Especially in the alien's anatomy. Just here on Terra, we can find jellyfish, tarantulas, viruses, and giraffes. Face it, if these fellow Earth-creatures don't resemble us, a totally alien race from another planet ain't gonna look like Mr. There might be creeping jellies, giant crystals, intelligent plants, mobile fungoids, energy creatures , fusion plasma beings dancing in solar coronas, liquid or gaseous life, swarming hive intelligences, superintelligent shades of the colour blue , and natural "electronic" life forms in pools of liquid helium.

They might not be made of meat. They might not even be composed of matter as we know it, like the Cheela from Dr. Robert Forward's Dragon's Egg who are made of neutronium and white dwarf star matter.

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Or the bizarre one from Damon Knight's Stranger Station. Some extraterrestrial creatures inhabit the depths of space itself. In Sir Arthur C.

Clarke's Childhood's End was a creature that lived in deep space among asteroid belts. It resembled a huge eye, about twenty feet in diameter. Its survival depended upon the range and resolving power of its eye. Well, actually Olaf Stapedon's intelligent galaxies in Star Maker are bigger, but let's not get carried away. The beings first appeared in H. Lovecraft 's novella, " At the Mountains of Madness " published in , but written in , and later appeared, although not named, in the short story " The Dreams in the Witch-House " Six feet end to end, three and five-tenths feet central diameter, tapering to one foot at each end.

Like a barrel with five bulging ridges in place of staves. Lateral breakages, as of thinnish stalks, are at equator in middle of these ridges. In furrows between ridges are curious growths — combs or wings that fold up and spread out like fans. Arrangement reminds one of certain monsters of primal myth, especially fabled Elder Things in the Necronomicon.

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Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness. In the Mythos canon, the Elder Things were the first extraterrestrial species to come to the Earth, colonizing the planet about one billion years ago. They stood roughly eight feet tall and had the appearance of a huge, oval-shaped barrel with starfish -like appendages at both ends. The top appendage was a head adorned with five eyes, five eating tubes, and a set of cilia for "seeing" without light.

The bottom appendage was five-limbed and was used for walking and other forms of locomotion. The beings also had five leathery, fan-like retractable wings and five sets of branching tentacles that sprouted from their torsos. Both their tentacles and the slits housing their folded wings were spaced at regular intervals about their bodies. Lovecraft described the Elder Things as vegetable-like or echinoderm-like in shape, having radial symmetry instead of the bilateral symmetry of bipeds.

Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong

They also differed in that they had a five-lobed brain. The Elder Things exhibited vegetable as well as animal characteristics, and in terms of reproduction, multiplied using spores, although they discouraged increasing their numbers except when colonizing new regions.


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Though they could make use of both organic and inorganic substances, the Elder Things were carnivorous by preference. They were also amphibious.