Using biology and animal reproduction to design alien physical and social sexual characteristics.
a.) GENERAL OVERVIEW
I know I'm preaching to the choir here but have patience with me while I explore a few basic concepts first.
The concepts are as follows, intelligence, informed consent, rape, child abuse and bestiality. Why am I exploring these concepts first? Because we need to review the correct definitions of these terms before we jump into the area of alien sex and designing alien physical and social sexual characteristics.
Intelligence: A general mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn. In psychology, the study of intelligence is related to the study of personality but is not the same as creativity, personality, character, or wisdom.
Informed consent: Person's agreement to allow something to happen, such as a medical procedure, that is based on full disclosure of the facts necessary to make an intelligent decision.
Rape: Rape is a crime wherein the victim is forced into sexual activity against his or her will, in particular sexual penetration. It is considered by most societies to be among the most severe crimes.
Child abuse: the physical or emotional or sexual mistreatment of children.
Bestiality: Sexual relationships between a human and a nonhuman animal. Also called zoophilia.
What separates humans from animals? Intelligence? Yes. However, if you look at the basic definition of intelligence, dogs, cats, monkeys, dolphins, human infants and children and mentally disabled humans all meet the general criteria. And don't tell me dogs and cats don't understand human speech. You know they do. Not every word but they understand enough to comprehend simple verbal commands and concepts. Chimpanzees and gorillas can be taught sign language. Animals can love. We all know that. Look at the bonds between humans and their pets. However, an animal's level of intelligence and comprehension is a lot lower than an human adult male or female. The same thing applies to human infants and children. Last, but not least, the additional factor of informed consent applies. Because the mental capacity to comprehend and verbalize consent is not present, then rape, child abuse and bestiality are the results. This includes mentally disabled adults. If their mental age is that of a young child, their ability to have informed consent is impaired and sexual contact with them is considered rape.
The majority of readers and writers have no problem with the concept of sex between a human and a shapeshifter, including while the shapeshifter is in his or her animal form. Why? Because, regardless of the physical shape or form, the shapeshifter is an adult who has the mental age and level of comprehension to give informed consent to the act of making love.
Believe it or not, Edgar Rice Burroughs delved into these topics when he created Tarzan. What is the dividing line between man and beast? There was this horror and fear involved in this story over the possibility that Tarzan was the offspring of human/ape sexual encounter. If he were, would this make Tarzan less than human? Would this make Tarzan an animal who didn't have the intellectual capacity to be human? Of course, this topic wasn't explored completely because Edgar Rice Burroughs established from the beginning that Tarzan wasn't the offspring of a human/ape sexual encounter, that Tarzan was a human infant raised by a female great ape who'd lost her own infant. He used the common knowledge and legends about different species adopting and raising infants who were not of their species.
The mythical founders of Rome, Remus and Romulus were placed in a basket after their birth and set afloat on the Tiber (note the similarity to the story of Moses). The basket came aground at the grotto Lupercal, under a fig tree called Ruminal, where the twins were found and suckled by a she-wolf, and later raised by the shepherd family of Faustulus and and his wife, Acca Larentia.
Kipling's Mowgli is another example of a human raised by animals. Historical accounts of
And, of course, all of us have read news accounts of cats adopting and suckling orphaned puppies and dogs adopting and suckling orphaned kittens.
Cross species love has been around for centuries. This ability to love and care is present across a broad spectrum of the animal kingdom. Of course, this type of love doesn't automatically equal sex.
Stories of feral children, as opposed to wolf children, have gained wider acceptance. One of the best authenticated cases is the Wild Boy of Aveyron. Discovered at about age 12 digging in a garden in the Aveyron district of France in 1800, the Wild Boy was mute, naked, and seemingly retarded. (Unlike most feral children, he did walk upright.) It was learned he'd been roaming the hills on his own for at least two years, living on handouts from obliging farmers and whatever he could steal. The boy was turned over to a determined doctor named Jean Itard who taught him to dress himself and perform simple chores. But he never learned to speak more than a couple words.
Feral children have long fascinated scientists. Apart from the sheer pathos of their stories, they raise some gut issues: how do we become human? If we fail to learn critical skills as children, is it impossible to do so later?
Most feral children have been severely stunted and remained so all their lives, suggesting that early human contact is essential to normal development. But others believe the children were retarded to start with. The child psychologist Bruno Bettleheim, perhaps not the best of sources, argued that the children were autistic, that is, severely withdrawn. Those unconvinced say no autistic or otherwise incapacitated child could survive in the wild for long.
A 1970 California case suggests the deprivation theory is closer to the mark. "Genie," a more or less normal two-year-old, was locked up by her demented father for 11 years, reducing her to a state of whimpering imbecility. Despite later training her language development never exceeded that of a 5-year-old. Being a wild child may conjure up visions of some Blue Lagoon-type idyll, but the reality is unspeakably cruel.
Love is NOT sex. Although for many adult humans, love AND sex are intertwined.
We also know that many adult humans use sex to harm others instead of using sex to express love.
Now, if we expand our definitions to include aliens, the fact that an alien has a different physical shape, that an alien has a non-human shape doesn't mean that sex between a human and alien is bestiality, does it? No, it doesn't. Why? Because the intelligence, the ability to reason and give informed consent is present.
b.) DESIGNING ALIENS: PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Mother nature is very inventive with all of her creations in the animal kingdom. You can pick and choose any species on Earth to use as starting point to pattern your aliens.
Mammals would be the first choice, I'm assuming this is because they would be the closest physical type to humans when it comes to love and sex.
But then, when you look at mammals on Earth, there is a very wide variation, lions, tigers, wolves, bears, bats, kangaroos etc... Australian mammals have a unique place, many of them are marsupials where the female has a pouch to carry her young and nipples inside the pouch to nurse her young. Then there are the marine mammals who live totally in the and aquatic mammals who live in water and on land, such as seals, dolphins, porpoises, whales, polar bears, beavers, sea otters, manatee, walrus, the capybara (water pig), and hippopotamus.
Then there are the avian species. Winged humanoids are a common theme for SF Erotic Romances. The Fantasy theme involves angels and demons, of course.
My guess is that about 95% of Erotic Romance books, both ebook and print, that use Earth animals as a model generally go the Fantasy/magical/shapeshifting route with elves, vampires, werewolves and other were-beings. Look at Laurell K. Hamilton, Christine Feeham, Kim Harrison, Karen Chance, Mary Janice Davidson and Anne Rice as a small sample of successful vampire/were-being Romance and Erotic Romance type stories.
If you want to go the SF route, then you can either have aliens whose species evolved into beings with equal and or greater intelligence than humans or you can be looking at genetic engineering to create hybrids.
Interspecific hybrids are bred by mating two species, normally from within the same genus. The offspring display traits and characteristics of both parents. The offspring of an interspecific cross may be sterile. Sterility is often attributed to the different number of chromosomes the two species have, for example donkeys have 62 chromosomes, while horses have 64 chromosomes, and mules and hinnies have 63 chromosomes. Mules, hinnies, and other normally sterile interspecific hybrids normally cannot produce viable gametes because the extra chromosome cannot make a homologous pair at meiosis, meiosis is disrupted, and viable sperm and eggs are not formed. However, fertility in both female mules and hinnies has been reported with a donkey as the father.
If the two species are from a different genus, i.e. alien and human, then in order to procreate, the most likely scenario is in-vitro fertilization rather than natural fertilization through sexual intercourse. This is one of the reasons why I always laugh my head off at the alien kidnaps human female for reproduction through sexual intercourse. Human and ape DNA are 98% compatible but the two species cannot breed hybrid descendants naturally. Why would aliens from another star system be able to breed naturally with human females? This is impossible from a scientific point of view.
Did you know that in the early, original version of Star Trek, Spock was a test tube baby, not the result of natural procreation between a human woman and a Vulcan alien man? Later, they changed this by deciding that all of the 'alien humanoid' species in the Star Trek Universe had a common ancestor who 'seeded' all the different star systems with their DNA.
Another excellent example of stories about genetic engineering creating human/animal hybrids are Cordwainer Smith's stories about the 'underpeople'. In his stories, all the animal species were genetically enhanced with human DNA and they became human servants, i.e. 'underpeople'. Depending on what animal species you came from that initial was appended to your name. For instance, a dog/human woman was named D'Joan and a cat/human woman was named C'Mell and an elephant/human man was E'David.
Regardless of that factor, sex isn't just for reproduction.
If you're writing Erotic Romance, the focus is going to be on sex for mutual pleasure and expression of love, not sex for the purpose of procreation. Plus, IMHO getting the heroine pregnant usually ends that story fast because diapers and middle of the night feedings are NOT sexy.
Another interesting website shows dildoes of the penis from many different animal species. A very strange but educational website, IMO.
c.) DESIGNING ALIEN SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS
Here's an interesting piece of trivia about flamingos and flamingo reproduction. The only time that flamingos feel safe enough to have intercourse is when they are surrounded by other flamingos. In order to encourage flamingos to reproduce, zoo keepers have to place multiple mirrors in their cages to give the illusion of being surrounded by other flamingos. Imagine an alien species that can only relax enough to have sex in a public and group sex setting and would be scandalized by the concept of private, one on one monogamous sex.
Biology is important when you consider alien sex. Reproduction could be either sexual or asexual. In asexual reproduction, the parent simply splits off an identical copy or 'clone' of himself or herself. The aliens could have three sexes instead of two sexes like humans. The alien males could be the ones who carry the fetus in pouches like seahorses.
C. J. Cherryh's cat-like species in her Chanur series are aliens who have evolved from a lionlike ancestor. Their social/marriage structure consists of 'prides' where four to five females have one husband in common. When the sons reach adolescence, they are thrown out of the household and must fight and fend on their own until they can return to fight and kill a male adult and take over his 'pride'. Daughters are cherished. If you have too many sons, everyone pities you. Chanur are very proud of their ears. A common curse is to call another 'earless.'
The fascinating part about C.J.Cherryh's Chanur series is the number and variety of the alien species. She has seven alien species (counting humans) in this series. Even though the sexual aspects are not portrayed in any explicit fashion in this series, the cultural and social interactions are fascinating. I recommend this series if you want to see how she shows all the different alien cultures interacting together.
Mahendo'sat (singular mahe), black or brown primate-like creatures, human-size, very curious and political. The Mahendo'sat political system is based on the concept of Personage, a charismatic figure with a lot of social credit. (My impression of them was along the lines of bears as the model for the mahendo-sat.)
Stsho, minute, fragile, crested white beings (even their eyes are pearly white), xenophobic and non-aggressive. ( I saw the Stsho as based on moths and butterflies for their ancestral DNA.)
Tc'a, methane-breathing yellow five-eyed snakelike beings, and chi, yellow arthropod-like creatures.
Kif, bare-skinned, ash-black, long-snouted bipedal hunters. They are the tallest race in the Compact, slender, fast and deadly. They are strictly predators, requiring live prey; they have twin set of teeth, outer for biting and inner for chewing, and retractable claws. (Think vampire bats as their ancient ancestor)
Hani, feline-like race, maned, bearded, usually of red or tawny fur. (Physical and social structure patterned after lions.)
Knnn, the third methane breathing species, multi-legged tangles of wiry black hair, the most technologically advanced in the Compact: unlike others, they can maneuver in hyperspace and carry other ships with them. Only tc'a can communicate with them (or claim they can); the knnn are incomprehensible and therefore deemed dangerous by the other races, not to be provoked. They trade by snatching whatever they want and leaving whatever they deem sufficient as payment behind; it is an improvement over their prior habit of just taking trader ships apart.
WORLDBUILDING IN GENERAL
When you create alien cultures, you need to consider the environment that influences their culture.
The physical environment in which the species lives. Desert type planet, ocean planet, methane atmosphere planet, planet with a higher gravity than Earth. Planet with a lower gravity than Earth.
The location and nature of the race's dwellings, including the spatial relationships between those dwellings. Think about bees and how they organize their hives. Think about beavers. If the species has wings, are they a cliff-dwelling species.
Their diet, methods of obtaining and consuming food, and cultural practices regarding the preparation of meals and eating. I remember reading an early Young Adult Robert A. Heinlein story where eating in public was taboo. In order to gain respect and to be treated as equals, the humans had to insist on private, curtained individual booths where they could do their shameful eating without anyone seeing them.
Processes which the aliens use to share knowledge. The species could be telepathic. The species could be one where they have no written materials, all knowledge is transferred mind to mind.
Customs and ideas regarding death, dying, the treatment of the race's dead, and the afterlife. For my book, The Huntress, the aliens did extensive research on death and brainwave patterns and verified reincarnation.
A wonderful website you can use as a reference model when you do your basic worldbuilding is here at
Last but not least, here is an excerpt from The Huntress to show you how my reptilian hero's sexual responses are triggered by scent and taste rather than by sight.
Huntress excerpt: WARNING EXPLICIT ALIEN SEXUAL CONTENT IN THIS EXCERPT
Sonia scooted back on the bed and hugged her knees. Her wet clothes had dried into dampness along the way to his room and her hair had frizzed out into a snarled mass of curls sticking to her shoulders and back.
Rulagh knelt on the edge of the bed, leaned forward and stroked her cheek with his finger. “If you’re not ssure, we can wait.”
She tilted her face into his hand and breathed in his spicy scent, a scent that had deepened into warm musk. He curved his fingers along her cheek in a gentle caress. A shiver raced down her body. She wanted to feel those fingers on her breasts, to have him touch her all over. What was it about him that made her want him so much? He had claws. She should be afraid of those claws. But she wasn’t.
His forked tongue was an important sensory part for him. He used it constantly to taste the air and her skin. Her heart stuttered in her chest. She sucked in a breath, expelled it in a long, shuddering sigh, then took his hand, pulled it to her mouth and licked the inside of his wrist in a shy caress. A combination of salt and spice tingled her tongue and sent a surge of pleasure straight to her pussy.
“Yesssss.” He seated himself beside her, pulled her into his arms and kissed her long and hard as if he wanted to devour her mouth.
The liquid warmth of his tongue made her throat ache with hunger.
When he ended the kiss and pulled away, she hissed and clung to his shirt. More! She wanted more.
Rulagh pulled her closer, rubbed his thumb over her stiff nipple under the thin cotton material of her tank top then traced the neckline. “Do you cherish this?”
She blinked. Why is he asking me this? His dark, scaled hand rested against the white fabric. “It’s just a top, nothing special.”
He flexed his fingers and extruded three-inch long razor-sharp claws. “Let me remove it for you.”
Her heart jumped into her throat. “R-remove it?”
“Like this.” He hooked his index claw in the neckline and waited.
Her face burned as if flames licked it. She wanted him more than she ever wanted anything or anyone before in her life. If she said no he’d stop, but her panties were soaked already with the juices of her arousal. She bit her lip and nodded. Her nipples swelled with anticipation.
He ripped the thin cotton apart from top to bottom and reached for her breasts. Hot, scaled skin like rawhide abraded the tender flesh. Her nipples tingled.
“May I taste them?”
The thought of his mouth upon her shuddered through her and soaked her panties even more. “Y-yes, please.”
He bent his head, closed his lips over her right nipple and suckled it with greedy, hard nips. The hot wetness of his mouth on her skin went straight to her groin like an electric shock.
He moved to her other nipple, gave it a playful nip and sucked it inside his hot mouth with his agile tongue. Ohgod. If his tongue and mouth felt that good on her breasts, how would it feel on her clit?
When Rulagh lifted his head from her breasts, her wet nipples ached for more attention. His eyes had darkened to almost pure black again. He flicked his tongue out for a split second. “Ssonia.” His hoarse whisper shifted her name into a sibilant burr that gave her goosebumps. “Your skin tastes like ssweet, iced melon.”
Her heart skipped a beat. She’d never thought about how she tasted before. Now, with him, taste had become a suddenly unique and erotic touchstone of their lovemaking.
He pushed her back onto the bed, reached behind her head and lifted her hair out of the way. His warm cinnamon musk flowed into her lungs like liquid fire. She stretched out on the sheets and opened her legs for him. Her heart slipped into the slow, hypnotic beat of anticipation.
He lifted her feet to his lap and removed her sneakers and socks. The scales on his palms tickled the soles of her feet. Her toes curled under the sensuous warmth of his gentle touch.
He moved her feet aside, bent over her body and unzipped her jeans. When he slipped his hands under the waistband of her jeans and panties to pull them down, she lifted her hips for him. He threw them on the floor, climbed on the bed and positioned himself between her wide-open legs. The spines on his scalp flared. The tips had turned dark red. Did that mean the sight of her excited him as much as he excited her? “Aren’t you going to take your pants off, too?”
Rulagh’s smile widened. He shook his head. “I haven’t finished tasting you.”
Or was there another reason why he kept his pants on? Could it be that he didn’t want her to see his cock yet? Was it scaled like the rest of his skin? What color was it?
Rulagh lowered his face to her pussy. His forked tongue dipped between the swollen lips and all conscious thought disappeared. His tongue swirled around her clit and tugged. A soft keening moan escaped from Sonia’s mouth. There wasn’t any time to think now, only react. Her hips jerked convulsively in an instinctive demand for more, more, more of his agile tongue.
“Yesss.” His voice vibrated against her skin. “Fuck my tongue. Show me how you want me to fuck you.”
The word ‘fuck’ slammed into her like a bucket of ice water. Her entire body stiffened. She sat up and pushed his head away from her crotch. Daniel used to say ‘fuck’ all the time and call her his whore. Did Rulagh think of her as a whore too?
Rulagh sat back on his heels and studied her face. “What’s wrong?”
“You said fuck.”
He cocked his head. “I care for you. I want to protect you and share pleasure with you. That’s the word they used in the holovids your father showed me. Did I use the wrong word?”
She stared at his face, at the red tipped spines rippling on his scalp. “No. It’s a correct word. I just didn’t expect you to use it. Did those holovids arouse you?”
Rulagh pursed his lips. “The images were educational.” He bent over, leaned his head closer to her body and flicked his tongue out, as if he wanted to lick her from head to toe. “They had no scent to arouse me.”
He traced a line between her breasts and down her stomach with a blunted forefinger. It left a delicious sensation, a line of fire from her breasts to the wet curls at her groin. “There was nothing for me to touch.”
He slid his finger into the moisture dripping from her crotch and inserted it deep inside her. Sonia gasped at the sudden feel of his finger inside her. He pulled it out, held it to his mouth, flicked his tongue out and slowly licked the liquid off. The spines on his head stood straight up and darkened from deep red into pure black. “The women had no taste to arouse me.”
Thank you. I hope these lectures help you create many wonderful aliens and stories about them.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Alien Sexuality/Writing discussion #2
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What a fabulous post! It's interesting that in the collection JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN (about Tarzan's young adulthood), he falls in love with a female ape. Eventually, although he does win her affection for a short time (NOT sexually), he comes to realize that they don't belong together. He wonders whether there is a mate of his own kind for him somewhere. As for his she-ape crush, she mates with Tarzan's male ape best friend, and all is harmonious once more. Philip Jose Farmer's Tarzan pastiche postulates that the "apes" in Burroughs' series are actually "missing links," very primitive proto-hominids. That would account for their having language and rudimentary culture. Also, it's clear they are neither gorillas (as in the Disney cartoon feature) nor chimpanzees, since both are mentioned in the series as being separate species. So a species unknown to science is all Tarzan's ape "family" could be. If they are pre-hominids with enough intelligence to have a language, maybe Tarzan's mating with a she-ape (if it had ever happened) wouldn't be bestiality. Burroughs, however, wisely dodged the issue by having Tarzan decide to renounce his she-ape friend's love. But in THE RETURN OF TARZAN and TARZAN AND THE JEWELS OF OPAR there's a small group of people in the lost city of Opar whose males are described as hybrids between human and ape ancestors. The one female, of course, is fully human and seductively beautiful. Tarzan almost succumbs to her before he finally marries Jane. (Yes, contrary to popular belief, they are legally married.)ReplyDelete
You're one of the few writers that I know who's read the original Tarzan series and who has noticed how he addressed the issue of bestiality with his books.
BarbaraK -- it's wonderful to see your "voice" on this blog again, and with SUCH a valuable entry, too.ReplyDelete
I hope to see a lot more of these.
Examining the classics, slicing and dicing for techniques, is how we puzzle out ways to address the modern audience to engage and entertain.