“Amaris is definitely a refreshing new face in the world of science fiction, announcing her new novel as bluntly as she would with a new album (she released her fourth LP in June, 2018), and showing her talent for world building on a website created for the Chariots of Orion world, where you can even learn her fictional extraterrestrial language.”
When it comes to world building, one of the questions you have to ask yourself is: How do the people in your story- and on your planet- look like? And why do they look like that? Are their eyes bigger because their sun isn’t that bright? Is their skin darker because their sun is very warm? Are they monsters with tentacles or do they resemble humans? Why are they wearing that cloak, or that hairstyle? You should have a story behind each of these questions. And drawing your characters might help you build your world.
I just wanted to share a little guide as to how I am drawing my aliens. This drawing does have a bit more than 70 layers, and shows Arikmé, the Alonian warlord (on the right) and Dagon Naikkipalli, the Alonian Head of State (on the left) from my series The Chariots of Orion.
When you have an idea how the drawing should roughly look like, dedicate the first layer to make a sketch. Don’t worry about the background just now, you can add that layer later. Note that I have also sketched the body parts that are not visible in the drawing. This is to make sure that the clothing fits the outlines of the bodies.
Once you have decided what your drawing should roughly look like, and sketched the shapes of the bodies, switch to black ink to draw the outlines of the drawing, such as clothes and hair. Leave out complicated parts like hands, or hair (as in this case, Arikmé’s pompous hairstyle), and dedicate individual layers to them, in case you have to redo them several times. This sketch already does have separate layers for both figures, and for body parts such as hands.
It is time to draw the faces! Facial expressions are hard to draw, so you’ll want separate layers for them. Now you ought also determine the body language of the characters. How’s their relation, what are they talking about? Note that Dagon (on the left) is a higher official than Arikmé, and that he is slightly shorter than the warlord, but he doesn’t seem to look up at him. Arikmé is (as the ones among you that have read the book may already know) very proud, and whilst he reports to Dagon, he will still keep his attitude.
4. Filling and clothing
When you have done the outlines and the clothing, you can start to fill. The colour of the officials is black, and a golden and a silver belt signal a very high official, so both men are wearing black. Dagon wears a white cloak, not only because he is a higher official, but because the colour white is reserved for the king. Also, his headdress indicates that he does have more power than Arikmé. Being a warlord, Arikmé wears a cap on his head. This cap does have more than five layers, each for every colour. Note that I still haven’t done the faces.
5. Faces and hands
This is the hardest part. I first did a few layers with the eyes, and later created a layer for the skin colour, and pulled that layer under the previous layer. It’s less distracting when you can draw the eyes on a plain background. The skin colour is always hard. It’s best to try several shades until you find one that fits. The Alonians don’t really have only one type of skin colour, but they all have a shade that is rather tanned (think North Africa, South America).
Now, also Arikmé’s hair is drawn.
6. Finishing touches
Now you can draw things you forgot or want to add. Arikmé got piercings, his crown, and a sword. Dagon got some outlines for his cloak and jewels for his crown. The sign shown on Arikmé’s crown and on his robes is the character Yaxal, which stands for serrated rock, strength, and cleverness, and does have the sound “y”. There is also a female form of the character with the same sound, but a slightly different form.
7. The background
Now you can draw the background. It is easier to create the landscape after you’ve drawn your characters. I went for the city of ancient Meryo in Alonia, with the river and the desert in the background.
I hope you had fun reading this guide, and that it helps you start with your own aliens👽
I wanted to share this little drawing I shared on Instagram earlier. It shows an ice moon orbiting a blue gas giant (like Neptun, Jupiter…) and another small moon in the background.
An ice world like this can be found in our own solar system, with Enceladus, a moon orbiting Saturn, which is covered in ice, and could hide a humongous ocean under its surface (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enceladus).
I’ve always loved astronomy and science fiction! When I was little, I wanted to become an astronomer, or particle-physicist. As we know, that part didn’t work out, but the least I could do was use that passion for a novel. I’ve marvelled about how an alien civilisation could be like on my blog, and I thought that it might be good material for a novel.
How did that wide, complex story behind “Orion” evolve? Did being a songwriter help you create the story?
It’s a funny question because I don’t really know how it evolved. This world just suddenly unfolds and you first take notes, then it becomes quite a pile of notes, then you write the first couple of chapters, and the more you write, the wider the story grows. I wanted the setting for the book to be realistic, and the civilisation to be a community that is slightly similar to us, not some crazy monsters with tentacles. So I kind of built that world based on logic; I asked myself “Is this realistic?”. Sometimes I’ve felt a bit like a researcher, climbing through an ancient city and exploring more and more about the city the further he walks. A bit like Indiana Jones exploring a temple, I guess.
As for my music, I guess it hardly inspires me for what I’m writing as an author, most of the time it’s the other way round, and the book inspires me for music.
For “Orion”, you have done a lot of researches before even starting to write, even sought the help of scientists to let the planet and its civilisation seem realistic. Wasn’t that a lot of work?
I think it’s always a bit of work, trying to, you know, define such a complex world. The more a world unfolds, the more questions will appear, the more details claim to be defined, and of course you want them to be realistic. You start with one planet, suddenly you got several, there are several countries, several languages, several cultures, all of which have their traditions, their history, their customs. For me, the most difficult thing was to calculate the astronomical and physical attributes of the planet, to make it as realistic as possible. But I’m glad I had great people, great scientists, that were willing to help me with that task.
What can the reader expect in “Orion” 1?
I guess it’s not the classic, you know, laser sabre, spaceship story, although there are a couple of spaceships in the novel, don’t worry. You can expect a journey to a highly advanced civilisation in outer space, wars between extraterrestrial worlds, and, I hope, good entertainment.
Why did you choose the genre of science fiction and fantasy?
Again, I don’t think that this is something you choose, but something that needs to evolve on your mind; I think it’s the story that chooses the genre, not the author.
What do you think about subjects like astronomy or Ancient Astronaut Theory that keep appearing in the story, are you into these things, too?
Absolutely! I’ve loved astronomy since I’ve been a child. I think it’s just fascinating. As for the Ancient Astronaut Theory, of course, it’s inspired me a bit for the story of “Orion”; I think it’s pretty cool. I’m not a U.F.O. hunter or something,but I think it’s stunning to think that extraterrestrials could have visited the earth in the past, even though, of course, there isn’t any proof. I reckon I’m more realistic- and skeptic- minded then some of the readers might think, and I’m very skeptic whenever I hear such theories(laughs).
The story of “Orion” features political melting pots. Are you interested into politics?
Actually, I don’t get engaged with terrestrial politics, you know(laughs). The planet on which the story takes place doesn’t have anything to do with the Earth. But I thought that it’d be more realistic if an alien civilisation faces political schemes as well, instead of just fighting each other in spaceships.
Let’s be honest – do you believe in extraterrestrials?
I am absolutely convinced that we’re not alone in the universe, but it might be difficult to get in contact with another civilisation. Perhaps they use completely different ways of communicating, maybe they want to be left alone, and who knows if they would be peaceful? In “Orion”, there are a lot of different species, some of which are not interested into getting involved with humans, and some of them wanting to destroy the Earth. I guess that there could be lots of different species in the universe, and we probably shouldn’t get too close to all of them.
On your recent album,Aquamarine,you dedicated one of your songs,Taunt,to the game Hearthstone. Do you play games a lot?
I really like Hearthstone, although I don’t have time to play it a lot, and the game just somehow inspired me for the song. I also really like chess. Maybe it just shows that I’m a bit of a nerd(laughs).
What kind of books do you enjoy?
Utopiaby Thomas Morus is one of my favourite. I also do love surreal science fiction and fantasy. Another book I loved isWhat ifby Randall Munroe, I love that combination of science and entertainment. And of course, I’m a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft, especially theCthuluseries.
The Request – The Chariots of Orion 1 is my first sci-fi novel to be published! But why does a producer and singer turn into a sci-fi author?
First, I’ve always loved astronomy and science fiction. When I was little, my dream was to become an astronomer. We know that this didn’t work out. But that didn’t stop me from loving astronomy. Maybe it was because of this fervour that I wanted to create a novel about what could happen if we met an intelligent, highly advanced civilisation from outer space.
The world of Iphael and its countries I’d say were built on logic, rather than only fantasy. I wanted to create a completely fictional, but still realistic – somewhat believable – world for my extraterrestrial civilisation. As much as I love H.P. Lovecraft and especially the Cthulu series, I wanted to create extraterrestrials that were similar to us, not monsters with tentacles. Don’t get this wrong, I love stories with monsters with tentacles, but I thought that the message of the book, “what would happen if we met a highly advanced civilisation from outer space? What if they would attack us?” would be easier to limn when the civilisation is physically similar to us, because they’re looking similar like us, but don’t function like us.
But then, I wouldn’t dare to claim that my kind of civilisation is realistic… Who knows what aliens might look like? They might actually have tentacles, like in “Arrival”, and be terribly advanced, too. And who knows if they would be friendly inclined?
Readers might also wonder why the alien civilisation in the book is a society without any money. Well, I do have a degree in Finance Management and Business Law. So economy was a huge part of my lectures. During the degree, I played with the thought of a hypothetical society that doesn’t know capitalism like we know it. And it seemed just not realistic that an alien civilisation would have the same system as we do. The system of my civilisation was formed by generations of searching for a new planet in a spaceship colony, after their own planet had been destroyed, and it seemed logical that such experiences would cause a society to have other ideals than we do. Shares and Hedgefonds might not seem that important once your planet is destroyed, so the civilisation in the book would not care about those things. They also would not approve any form of voracity, with the resources on a spaceship being very limited. Why voracity still is ubiquitous in the story? You’ll have to read the book to find out:)
You can grab your copy of “Chariots of Orion” as hard copy or e-book here:
With the WOW Signal possibly debunked, this leads us to a few questions.
The most important question is: Was it aliens? The narrowband radio signal – the ‘Wow Signal’ – that reached Big Ear telescope of the Ohio State University in 1977, was so strong that astronomer Jerry R. Ehman commented “Wow!” at the side of the printout of the measure. The signal had been received during a search for extraterrestrial intelligence project. Therefore it was reasonable that scientists thought that it might have been an attempt by extraterrestrials to contact us.
Now, the signal seems to have been finally decrypted, and scientists said that it had transpired to be no message from extraterrestrials after all. Instead, scientists were cited to have discovered that that the signal most likely was caused by a comet.
But this leads us to the question: Would aliens really contact us using radio bursts or radio signals? And would they accept that leakage of their technology could cause them being discovered by another civilisation?
Could other civilisations discover us humans because of our technology leakage? Well, yes, they could. The question is, do we want that?
I imagine that other species possibly would tell us, ‘Hey, are you mad? Do you know what kind of civilizations there are out there in the universe? Do you really want to lure them to the earth?’ If we imagine species like Giger’s aliens (you know, the ones from the Alien movies), I guess we really do not want to lure them here.
Stephen Hawking even warned that we ought not try to get the attention of other civilisations, because there could be evil civilisations, that could try to conquer the earth. We know that this is not so far-fetched, because we know that this is possible; we only have to look at earth’s history. When the Spanish discovered America, they conquered the continent and subdued the native people there. An alien species, especially a species that is very developed, could do the same to us. We know the way the native people in America were subdued; we do not want to find out what a civilisation, hundreds of thousands of years older than the humans, and way more advanced than the humans, could do to us if they’d attack and conquer our planet!
What if an extraterrestrial civilisation might think exactly like this? What if they are afraid of being discovered and subdued by an evil alien species? They would use some kind of contraption to avoid leakage of their technology. And then we cannot be sure that an extraterrestrial civilisation would use exactly the same technology. It could be possible that they do not use radio signals. Imagine a civilisation communicating using quantum communication. There wouldn’t be any leakage for us to examine, and maybe, there could be an alien civilisation near us and we wouldn’t notice. All we could examine would be the way the atmosphere is built up and whether the planet is in the Goldilock’s zone, and therefore could support life, or not.
If a species would attack this planet, they would not expect a developed civilisation, so the extraterrestrials there could use this as advantage. If they’d attack the earth, on the other hand, they’d know quite a lot about us, as we have sent years of tv programs, radio and other signals out into space. We might want to consider if we really want to have other civilizations know about the earth, or if we want to listen to Stephen Hawking and not try to lure alien conquerors near the earth.
What we can be sure, I guess, is that either way, if the extraterrestrials know about us and want to contact us, they will contact us.
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) have led to many discussions about whether or not we might be on the verge of finding evidence for an advanced civilisation in a far away galaxy—as scientists still couldn’t discover where exactly the FRBs came from, the theory was risen that the bursts might have been emitted by a neutron star; or, that they actually could have been caused by some sort of humongous radio transmitter that was artificially created to power an alien spacecraft (https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2017-09?utm_content=bufferc5af4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer). Which is, I’ll admit, quite the cooler theory. But let’s look at what scientists say.
As we discover more and more exoplanets, some of them even in Goldilocks’ zone—meaning that their distance to their home star is such that they could bear liquid water and even support life, you know, like, not too warm but not too cold, either—, more people start to think that we should als discover alien civilisations on some of those exoplanets. OK, it might seem more realistic that we’d find bacteria on an exoplanet instead of an ancient, advanced civilisation building humongous sailing spaceships, but let’s say it could be aliens; we’d have to examine a few things.
Where is the source of the FRBs?
That’s the problem; scientists were not able to find the source of the weird signal yet, even though we know that the bursts came from a far away dwarf galaxy. Which leads us to the next problem: What or who ever might have caused the signal; scientists stated that the signal could have travelled for about 3 billion years (https://www.cnet.com/news/frb-121102-fast-radio-bursts-aliens-seti-meti-galaxy/). That means, if it were aliens, then we would see them flying through their galaxy 3 billion years ago. In the meantime—unless their spacecraft is really, really slow—they would have likely moved on to a different part of the universe.
Why would aliens use that sort of power?
The idea of powering your spacecraft with radio emission isn’t so bad, but it might not be as easy as it sounds. First, you’d need a transmitter big enough to power your probably huge (and heavy) spacecraft even if you’re far away from the transmitter. That would suggest that you’d have to build a gigantic transmitter; some scientists even suggest it would have to be about the size of the earth. I mean, this might be less harmful to your planet’s environment than using fossil fuel, but then you would need just a lot of energy. I’d suggest that such a device might be built by a civilisation that doesn’t have a home planet any longer, so they have to build a transmitter in space. Maybe they built a transmitter to find a new home planet. To build such a device would mean that the aliens that built it are very, very advanced, way more advanced than our civilisation.
But what if the aliens actually tried to contact us?
Could the signal have been sent by an alien civilisation to contact us? OK, it could be really the attempt of an advanced alien civilisation to contact our planet. But why should they contact us using FRBs? Wouldn’t there be a way that wouldn’t need that much energy and would be easier to be decrypted? It is more likely that the signal actually was caused by a gigantic alien spaceship, or that the aliens didn’t mean to contact us; however, we will have to find out where the signal came from before we can determine whether or not it was aliens. But we should mind that it might also be a neutron star—or, who knows, maybe an astronomic object we still have to find out about.