Recently I’ve started to get more and more into xenobiology. It’s the study of how life might evolve on other planets under different environments that of earth. It can also be called exobiology or astrobiology. But the word xenobiology tends to be used for aliens that are a bit more alien. You could say there’s a bit more imagination at work. It’s the study of weird-ass aliens.
I think my interest in it has grown with my ever growing disinterest in all these damn humanoid aliens that plague mainstream science-fiction. I have found myself getting more and more annoyed with aliens that are pretty much just humans only with some small physical difference like a ridge on the nose or something (I’m looking at you Bajorans!). I find it very unimaginative and extremely unrealistic. Seriously, if there are aliens they will probably not look human. That is just very unlikely.
I’ve started trying to convince myself that all these humanoid aliens are just regular humans that has been changed after living on other planets. Humanoid aliens have actually started to distract me from the stories they’re in now. That is how unrealistic I find them.
But I do understand why people like to make aliens look like humans in fiction.
– It’s easier to make them relatable if they look human.
– It’s cheaper.
– And they can use them as an excuse to tell stories about humanity.
But they’re not really aliens.
They’re just humans with deformities living in a variation of some random culture from human history. Only really over-exaggerated like the viking/mongol Klingons.
With all this said, here’s a list of cool people who’s doing some awesome xenobiology(-ish) stuff:
Let’s start with the master. Wayne Barlowe is the guy that has inspired pretty much every artist who’s doing xenobiology stuff.
He’s the writer/artist of Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV. A travel diary of a character based on Barlowe himself that is on an expedition to the first other planet where we have discovered life on. It’s filled with gorgeous illustrations of the different animals they find there along information on the creatures.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find this book. I’ve been searching for about a year now but I guess I have to hope for a reprint.
Here’s one of my favourite creatures of his called a Bladderhorn:
Discovery Channel also did a pretty great (although a bit shallow) “adaptation” of the book called Alien Planet. It had pretty impressive CGI and can be found on DVD. It’s also highly recommended.
I’m not sure if this is his real name but Nemo Ramjet is an Turkish artist who has created the world of Snaiad. You can see that he’s been influenced by Wayne Barlowe but he has his own distinct style I think. There hasn’t been a book published yet but it’s just a matter of time. In the meantime you can check out all the animals of Snaiad at the main site.
Like this group of animals called the Pescidonts;
Gert van Dijk
Another world-builder here. Gert van Dijk is the creator of the planet Furaha. Unlike most designers of alien life he has also created some alien flora apart from all the animals.
Here’s two Jinogoes from Furaha;
And this guys makes some cool stuff. He’s the writer/artist of Galactic Geographic Annual 3003: Earth Edition which is like this fake National Geographic from the year 3003 but about humans meeting aliens and stuff. It’s a collection of something he did on the Heavy Metal Magazine.
I recently found a danish bookstore online that had the book listed so I ordered it. But then last tuesday it turned out they didn’t have the book at all and the order was cancelled. I’ve never been so dissapointed in my life. I guess this is another book I have to hope they’ll reprint.
Here’s a picture of our first contact with this species which I can’t seem to find the name of right now.
And here’s one of my favourites! Alex Reis hasn’t had anything published yet but he’s so damn talented that he’ll definately get his book out when it’s finished. The reason I like him is that he seems to do intelligent aliens instead of only animals. I find it extremely fascinating seeing how a culture would be by some intelligent creature that isn’t humanoid.
This species is called the Birrin and it’s damn cool;
Matt Pattinson is the author of the Culprit Tech blog where he has posted small snippets from an expedition to an alien planet. It ranges from goofy humor to just strangeness. It just has this really great mood and is very inspirational.
Edd Cartier was an artist that did alot of pulp and sci-fi book covers. But he also did these really strange but cool alien drawings in a segment called The Interstellar Zoo from the short story anthology Travelers of Space from 1951.
You can look at most of the drawings at this blog-post here;
Leo is a comic writer/artist originally from Brazil but who currently lives in France. He’s the creator of a series of comic books that takes places on alien planets. He started with the planet Aldebaran and has then moved on to Betelgeuse and now the first issue of Antares should be out in france this year.
The UK publisher Cinebook recently started releasing the books in english and the third book from them should be out this month.
I’ve only read the books set in Aldebaran but they’re fantastic. The dialogue might be a bit off but that is usually the case with english translations of european books. But the world he has created is really interesting. The people living on Aldebaran are colonists that was mysteriously abandoned by earth a 100 years ago. The technology they use is this interesting mix of new and old as they’ve been forced to survive on the planet by themselves.
Amd finally here’s a comic creator I had no idea existed until recenlty when King City author Brandon Graham wrote about him in his blog. Matt Howarth has been doing indie comics for over 30 years and is the creator of Keif Llama.
Keif Llama is the name of a woman who is a Xeno-tech which are people who can understand the intent of aliens that are very different physically and mentally from humans. She travels around in space meeting all these really strange aliens and tries to figure out what they want.
Here’s a page I found from Keif Llama: Gas War which I hope the author don’t mind me sharing as it’s so damn amazing;
You can buy digital copies of his comics at his website.
And that is all I have for now.