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* StarfishAliens, StarfishLanguage, and similar tropes are also important. You could, I suppose, get away with HumanoidAliens instead of Starfish Aliens, but don't do this for more than one alien species in a given universe if you don't want to worry about stretching plausibility too far. The other tropes are still necessary for Humanoid Aliens; even human languages possess amazing diversity, so you don't have any excuse for your aliens speaking with the exact same grammar structure as English.


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* StarfishAliens, StarfishLanguage, and similar tropes are also important. You could, I suppose, could get away with HumanoidAliens instead of Starfish Aliens, but don't do this for more than one alien species in a given universe if you don't want to worry about stretching plausibility too far. The other tropes are still necessary for Humanoid Aliens; even human languages possess amazing diversity, so you don't have any excuse for your aliens speaking with the exact same grammar structure as English.




Now here's where we get into the meat of it. Unless you've gotten a psychology doctorate and enough money to live on for the next few years, you probably don't want to design an alien mind from scratch. With that in mind, you probably want to take a short cut to get you started, like rearranging the steps in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs For example, we might give them, from most to least fundamental, self-actualization needs, safety needs, physiological needs, esteem needs, and finally love/belonging needs.

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Now here's where we get into the meat of it. Unless you've gotten a psychology doctorate and enough money to live on for the next few years, you probably don't want to design an alien mind from scratch. With that in mind, you probably want to take a short cut to get you started, like rearranging the steps in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Needs. For example, we might give them, from most to least fundamental, self-actualization needs, safety needs, physiological needs, esteem needs, and finally love/belonging needs.


!'''Necessary Tropes'''

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!'''Necessary Tropes'''
!Necessary Tropes



!'''Choices, Choices'''

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!'''Choices, Choices'''
!Choices, Choices



!'''Pitfalls'''

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!'''Pitfalls'''
!Pitfalls



!'''Potential Subversions'''

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!'''Potential Subversions'''
!Potential Subversions



!'''Writers' Lounge'''

!!'''Suggested Plots'''

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!'''Writers' Lounge'''

!!'''Suggested Plots'''
!Writers' Lounge

!!Suggested Plots



!'''Extra Credit'''

!!'''The Greats'''

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!'''Extra Credit'''

!!'''The Greats'''
!Extra Credit

!!The Greats


* ThreeWorldsCollide, which has the Babyeaters and Superhappies.

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* ThreeWorldsCollide, Literature/ThreeWorldsCollide, which has the Babyeaters and Superhappies.

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* Just about any alien species created by Creator/LarryNiven. He's practically made a ''career'' out of forging believable alien psychologies, from the cowardice-is-a-virtue Puppeteers to the hyperspecialized Moties to the three-life-stage Pak to the herd elephants of ''Footfall''.


* They may be aliens but that isn't going to stop people from preaching to them. Besides figuring out how to get the concepts across, missionaries will need to think on their feet (especially if FTL communication isn't possible and the leadership of the church isn't in that star system) in order to solve doctrinal questions like what to do when a Catholic alien wants to be a priest but, while currently male, will transition into a female state later in life.

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* They may be aliens but that isn't going A human cleric/missionary seeks to stop people from preaching to them. evangelize an alien for a human religion (or vica versa). Besides figuring out how to get the concepts across, explain the cosmology and theology, missionaries will need to think on their feet (especially if FTL communication isn't possible and the leadership of the church isn't in that star system) in order to solve doctrinal questions like what to do when a Catholic alien wants to be a priest but, while currently male, will transition into a female state later in life.


** On that note, be ''VERY'' careful if you insist on making ScaryDogmaticAliens. It can be easy to start doing TheWarOnStraw or MaliciousSlander (two tropes that should be avoided at all costs), especially if you're writing about [[SingleIssueWonk groups, ideologies and/or beliefs you dislike]]. While [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped some things are wrong and need to be called out]] (for example, racism), there are others where the matter is very complex and the target may be better than perceived so it's wrong to single them out for scorn (for example, certain religions). At the very least, do some research and be honest about whoever you're focusing on if you use ScaryDogmaticAliens.

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** On that note, be ''VERY'' careful if you insist on making ScaryDogmaticAliens.ScaryDogmaticAliens, otherwise don't do it. It can be easy to start doing TheWarOnStraw or MaliciousSlander (two tropes that should be avoided at all costs), especially if you're writing about [[SingleIssueWonk groups, ideologies and/or beliefs you dislike]]. While [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped some things are wrong and need to be called out]] (for example, racism), there are others where the matter is very complex and the target may be better than perceived so it's wrong to single them out for scorn (for example, certain religions). At the very least, do some research and be honest about whoever you're focusing on if you use ScaryDogmaticAliens.



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** On that note, be ''VERY'' careful if you insist on making ScaryDogmaticAliens. It can be easy to start doing TheWarOnStraw or MaliciousSlander (two tropes that should be avoided at all costs), especially if you're writing about [[SingleIssueWonk groups, ideologies and/or beliefs you dislike]]. While [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped some things are wrong and need to be called out]] (for example, racism), there are others where the matter is very complex and the target may be better than perceived so it's wrong to single them out for scorn (for example, certain religions). At the very least, do some research and be honest about whoever you're focusing on if you use ScaryDogmaticAliens.


* The vampires and scramblers Peter Watts' ''{{Blindsight}}''.

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* The vampires and scramblers Peter Watts' ''{{Blindsight}}''.''Literature/{{Blindsight}}''.


* A human raises an alien from infancy and teaches it human values and what is known of the aliens' language, but this doesn't go perfectly because of the fundamental differences in human and alien psychologies.

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* [[InterspeciesAdoption A human raises an alien from infancy infancy]] and teaches it human values and what is known of the aliens' language, but this doesn't go perfectly because of the fundamental differences in human and alien psychologies.



* Be sure to take a look at the entries in StarfishAliens. I've only included examples here that you can read online.

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* Be sure to take a look at the entries in StarfishAliens. I've only included examples here that you can read online.online.
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I'm assuming that you want to write an alien psychology that doesn't match up exactly to the human mind, so we're going to stick closer to the Hard end of the MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness. It's fine to veer off from it, of course, and personally my only issue with soft sci-fi is that I dislike RubberForeheadAliens and there are few writers whose stories have Soft physics and Hard aliens, but if your story is Soft you might want to make it clear to the reader beforehand that your story will have Babyeaters, not Klingons.

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I'm We're assuming that you want to write an alien psychology that doesn't match up exactly to the human mind, so we're going to stick closer to the Hard end of the MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness. It's fine to veer off from it, of course, and personally my your only issue with soft sci-fi is may be that I you dislike RubberForeheadAliens and there are few writers whose stories have Soft physics and Hard aliens, but if your story is Soft you might want to make it clear to the reader beforehand that your story will have Babyeaters, not Klingons.



* BlueAndOrangeMorality is pretty much required. Even human cultures can get pretty strange, so it would take a lot of improbable coincidences for an alien culture to be easily understandable by the humans that meet them.

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* BlueAndOrangeMorality is pretty much required. Even separate human cultures can get pretty strange, so it would take a lot of improbable coincidences for an alien culture to be easily understandable by the humans that meet them.


* RubberForeheadAliens should be avoided. If you must, HumanoidAliens is acceptable, but if you're going to go to all the trouble of creating a genuinely alien mind then you should go a few extra feet and not just slap some make-up on your aliens.

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* RubberForeheadAliens should be avoided. If you must, HumanoidAliens is acceptable, but if you're going to go to all the trouble of creating a genuinely alien mind then you should go a few extra feet and not just slap some make-up on your aliens. A separate "So You Want To" article now exists to deal with the physiological end of the alien-building chore, titled SoYouWantTo/CreateBelievableAliens.

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