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Aliens and Alien Societies

(Science Fiction Writing Series)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Teaches writers how to use real scientific knowledge of our universe to create more convincing extraterrestrial life forms in their science fiction or fantasy novel.
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published December 31st 1996 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 1996)
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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  149 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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This is the first volume in a four-volume set put out by Writers Digest Books under the umbrella Science Fiction Writing Series. This entire series is highly recommendable, and you'll probably see the other volumes reviewed here by me in the future. Aliens and Alien Societies features 11 chapters, an extensive bibliography of related source books, and a 7-page glossary of terms that are common to science fiction writing that focuses on believable science. Schmidt is the long-time editor of Analo ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You will never watch a science fiction movie or read a science fiction book about aliens the same way again. I am forever ruined, but gained a deeper appreciation of the science involved in creating fictional alien species.

This book definitely leans towards hard science fiction. Coming from a humanities and social science background I felt a little discouraged as a writer reading through some of the technical chapters. What do I know about physics or chemistry? I have a vague understanding of a
Catherine Cole
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent resource for writers of science fiction. You can also read it as an encyclopedia with entries on different topics, for quicker research. Creating alien beings involves so many different aspects that it is impossible to talk about each in considerable detail. The book would be too heavy to pick up. This book, however, has a solid outline of the different aspects needed for the task, and next to these bases there are other external resources for you to check out as needed. The book guide ...more
Ethan Hulbert
This is a book I’ve had for a long time. It's great. (Also I miss 90s covers like this one.)

This book’s got everything. Science, language, lifestyle. It’s over 20 years old now, but it still holds up remarkably well. What a wonderful resource! It really helps you think about making them alien, and not just Star Trek rubber forehead alien.

This is a book that I’ve had on my shelf for many years, and it will continue to stay on my shelf for years to come. A timeless classic!
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very thought provoking on how to construct alien worlds and cultures. Gives good resources to explore further too.
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to-write
This is the writing book for STEM ( Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics ) people wanting to create sci-fi fiction only someone with their talents could. It's a great guide to conceiving of alien races and societies, leaning more towards hard science fiction than space operas. The author expects you to work out equations, run simulations, and do research, going straight to scientific journals to latest science instead of relying on tropes or cliches. AS someone who is hopelessly inept ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
This is from the Science Fiction Writing Series, and is geared towards those interested in writing science fiction, although I actually think this would be of interest to the general science fiction reader. According to the biography in the back, Stanley Schmidt was the editor of Analogue Science Fiction & Fact, has a Ph.D. in physics and has taught both physics and science fiction at the college level. So he's definitely well qualified to write this book--one on plausible world-building tha ...more
Eoghan Odinsson
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was an excellent book. Schmidt covers a broad swath of ideas for creating aliens and societies, as well as providing useful case studies - analyzing many works of fiction, and describing various approaches to the challenge. This is another book I'm sure I'll refer to regularly.
Kathryn Knight Harper
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Awesome for what it is, but not useful for a fantasy writer (oops). It gave me a few great ideas for shaping up my novel, however, so it wasn't wasted time.
Anthony Patten
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is just SO TOTALLY AWESOME!!! A must for anyone who appreciates science fiction.
M.T. Bostick
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I wanted to create my aliens and I found this book to be incredibly helpful. Another great reference book. Keeping it handy as I write.
Patty Jansen
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I would classify this book as essential reading for the writer who wants to create worlds that could actually exist, based on existing knowledge, but doesn't know where to start researching.
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a science-fiction writer I found this a valuable resource. It explained concepts in a easy to understand manner while laying out the foundational science behind them.
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