Human Characteristics in Aliens


I am working on revising a short story I wrote about sea aliens earlier this year.

The sea aliens are, physically, nothing like humans.  They look like saucers, move by sucking in and blowing out water, and communicate by wrinkling their surfaces.

Even though it is critical to the story that the sea aliens communicate with one another, I missed two obvious opportunities to have them do so.  In both cases, the aliens are in a dangerous situation.  If humans were in a similar situation, we would be nattering away to each other about what to do.  I live on the Texas gulf coast, and whenever a hurricane comes into the gulf and especially when Hurricanes Rita and Ike were headed for us, we were continuously talking about what the hurricane would do, what we should do, and what we could lose.

So why didn’t I have my aliens doing the same thing?

After all, part of the fun of creating aliens is to think about what life would be like for a different type of intelligent being.  What would threaten them? What would be important to them?  What goals would they have?  The answers to these questions depend up on the aliens, of course, and I find them fascinating.

And yet I didn’t have my aliens communicating when they would be.

I think that is because I fell into the laziness trap and didn’t think through how the aliens would behave in these situations.  And, because I didn’t think, I had them behaving like the animals they look like instead of like the aliens they are.

That was wrong, and I am fortunate that some excellent critiquers pointed that error out to me.  I will be fixing it in the rewrite.

Have you thought through how the aliens behave in your SF?

Have you read any SF where you thought the aliens were too much like animals?  Or too much like people?