2016-05-29

Building an Alien Culture

Update
Peacekeeper 3: Pathogen currently stands at 9,411 words – not much of a change since a week ago. I’ve been concentrating on building my knowledge base of the Omel. By the time I’m done, I will know quite a bit about this alien race including a good number of the cultural oddities that set them apart from other species. I’ve also been doing some detailed research so I can get the facts straight in the novel. Writing science fiction often involves having to research existing technology and, unless you work in that field, it can take quite a bit of time.

One does not have to go very far to find odd cultural behaviors. Earth has plenty of them. What is common and considered polite behavior in America can be considered incredibly rude in other countries. Experienced travelers will do their research prior to making a trip to an unfamiliar country. Cultural differences can easily ruin what could be a great trip. For instance, tipping in the United States is expected. In Japan, tipping of any sort can be considered as an insult. People forget that what is believed to be okay to them might be very rude to someone from another culture. If we have such diverse behaviors among humans, imagine how hard it would be to integrate into a society of multiple alien cultures.

On Wednesday, I will be traveling to Denver and from there driving to Laramie Wyoming to attend Launch Pad 2016. This will be my 5th trip and I’m looking forward to meeting another fine group of authors. Each time I go, I make new friends and contacts. Knowing a diverse circle of writers is a benefit that all writers should have. Here’s why in my particular case:

Building an Alien World
During my quest to create a detailed description of the Omel, I will need to build their homeworld. This means selecting a properly sized planet orbiting a proper star (or stars) at the correct distance and calculating the planet’s rotation around that star based on the choices I made. It also means having to determine how long the planet’s day is as well as a general description of its geology. Each choice determines the type of world that is being created. Make the star too small and the planet must be so close that by the time life becomes intelligent the planet is tidally locked with one face always staring at the star.

Luckily, several of my Launch Pad acquaintances are astronomers. One of them has provided me with a great tool to help develop the Omel star system. Once I have all the parameters down, I’ll have her run a sanity check on what I’ve come up with. This makes for a very believable starting point for creating an alien race. I’m also reading up on the various cultural differences found here on Earth. I’ve found an interesting website to help me out - http://www.yukonhostels.com/customs.htm Check it out if you’re interested.

My wife is making good progress in her editing of Origins. I’ve entered the changes she’s suggested so far (all of them very good) and I should be able to enter some more before I leave for Laramie. The book is coming together quite well and I hope to publish soon. Before publication, while I finish up the formatting and putting the final touches on the cover, the book will be read one more time by a reader in Germany. This will ensure I publish a book with as few grammatical errors as possible.

As a self-published author, having this team of people behind me (my cover artist, my wife, other writer friends, and readers who like to help out) allows me to do what the big publishing houses do to one of their books. I lack the marketing department but in today’s world, most authors published through one of the big houses will never see a dime spent on marketing their book. Although I’m not against big publishing, I don’t see any advantage to approaching them to publish any of my own books.


I have more research to do so it’s time to close this blog and get to work.