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A Form You Are Comfortable With

24 Nov 2020 07:25 #69841 by Thefirstone
A Form You Are Comfortable With was created by Thefirstone
One idea I’ve had is an alien heroine who looks human because it’s what humans are comfortable with in-story, either due to being a shapeshifter or because she was grown artificially from modified human DNA by aliens who look decidedly less human to be their ambassador on Earth.
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24 Nov 2020 07:35 #69843 by Rjjt456
Replied by Rjjt456 on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With
Interesting concept but I think it needs a bit more...

Does she have other powers beside being a shapeshifter?
Also, what consequences will her biology have? Like, if she falls in love with a human, can she have children with them? Would she need to find a solution to this so she can become “more” human so she can stay with the one she loves?

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24 Nov 2020 09:12 - 24 Nov 2020 09:12 #69844 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With

Thefirstone wrote: One idea I’ve had is an alien heroine who looks human because it’s what humans are comfortable with in-story, either due to being a shapeshifter or because she was grown artificially from modified human DNA by aliens who look decidedly less human to be their ambassador on Earth.


I believe that a similar concept was used in the Doctor Who books to justify why so many aliens are humanoid in shape: the human form is actually a good highly adaptable design.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)
Last edit: 24 Nov 2020 09:12 by Woodclaw.

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24 Nov 2020 10:47 #69847 by Agent00Soul
Replied by Agent00Soul on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With
And of course Sil from the Species film series.  I liked the idea of the xenomorph from the Alien series that took the basic shape of whatever organism one of its eggs impregnated.  Not very sexy though.

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24 Nov 2020 16:06 #69856 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With
This is also a modern interpretation of Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian.

Their normal forms are scary to humans, so they adopt both a totally human alter ego and a more human-like super-hero form.  Miss Martian is even hiding that she's a White Martian and not a Green one.  Her arc is really well done in the Young Justice Cartoon, down to learning where her human form look and name come from a TV Show.

This leads to one of my favorite panel sequences.  Darwyn Cooke drawing Martian Manhunter in Justice League New Frontiers.  He comes home, drops his human disguise, and watches TV.  As he watches, he changes into Groucho Marx, Bugs Bunny, and the Indian from the test pattern at the end of the day.   I just love the entire sequence for playful use of shape-changing and it shows that he's trying to adapt, understand, and enjoy human/American culture.

That's the aspect I'd wish they'd mixed more into depictions of Supergirl.  She's not human by biology or culture, and she should have some problems with American Culture and should be shown actively trying to figure out how to fit in.

I can see a shapechanger being intellectually suited to not only blend in physically but mentally as well.  This has been shown a bit in some depictions of Skrulls.  I think there is a background implication that their current form might not be their original one too, that the race changed to something more human-like long ago.

This is a very fertile ground for stories!  Lot's of interesting threads.  From humor (martian manhunter watching Bugs Bunny and eating Oreos) to horror (Species) to studying the psychological makeup of a shapechanger.  Lots of humans have shifted places .. the TV Show "The Americans" about Russian Spies placed long term into the US ... well the spy level stuff in the show is over the top, but the actual idea is based on reality (and a true story of almost adult kids finding out their parents were Russian Spies when the FBI arrests them).  Mostly the Russian spies were used to explain American culture to Russians, rather than doing James Bond spy-level stuff.  I find that psychological stuff interesting, as in waking up to find that you are Canadian or American anymore and everyone wants to send you back to a country you've never lived in.  And after living here for decades, would a spy want to go home?  Or have they so adapted to their new life that it's now home?  Especially when "home" isn't like home was anymore either.  Those spies left as Soviets and would return to Russia.  Lay that out on an interstellar scale: a shape changer stranded on Earth for a long time (maybe even 100's of years) and finally gets contact back to their homeworld and ... it's now even more alien to them, and maybe even too jarring to adapt, as you have to over-ride the memories of how things were, and they might have held onto those pretty strongly during their exile.  Worse the people there have changed slowly over the years and don't really acknowledge the difference.  They no longer really see their old culture the same way anymore (just like people wax nostalgic about the time of their youth, selectively remembering things).

Lots of Japanese soldiers got "lost in the jungle" in WW II and would be found decades later, still fighting.  Cases were found up to the '70s. One guy even refused to listen to his family, and Japan had to find his old commander, and fly him over to talk to the guy to get him to surrender.  The guy goes back to Japan and writes a book about how Japanese culture had fallen/changed/given up its ideals and he was having a hard time adapting.  (I'm listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast and the opening of "Supernova in the East, Ep 1" is all about this.  The worst thing, that guy wasn't even the only guy found that year!    He had even seen newspapers and he thought they were all lies, and just kept fighting on.

Lots of ground, and lots of things to inspire/adapt.


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24 Nov 2020 16:53 #69857 by Thefirstone
Replied by Thefirstone on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With
Basically I have this idea of a character who’s powers are basically Symbiote-level shapeshifting and touch-dependent telepathy because her species are naturally essentially a form of slime.  Their society on their homeworld is nothing like ours; they live in massive pools that are basically an equivalent of nations, and had no concept of communication beyond touch-telepathy (and especially the massive collectives in the pools) until astronauts from another planet orbiting the same star first arrived there.  Their first instinct when they encounter a new species is to analyze its DNA, psychological makeup, etc, which they do by briefly enveloping it, so naturally the explorers (and a number of other species since then) freaked out.

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24 Nov 2020 17:08 #69858 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With

Thefirstone wrote: Basically I have this idea of a character who’s powers are basically Symbiote-level shapeshifting and touch-dependent telepathy because her species are naturally essentially a form of slime.  Their society on their homeworld is nothing like ours; they live in massive pools that are basically an equivalent of nations, and had no concept of communication beyond touch-telepathy (and especially the massive collectives in the pools) until astronauts from another planet orbiting the same star first arrived there.  Their first instinct when they encounter a new species is to analyze its DNA, psychological makeup, etc, which they do by briefly enveloping it, so naturally the explorers (and a number of other species since then) freaked out.


So, are they like a much more benevolent version of the Domion shapeshifters from DS9?

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)

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24 Nov 2020 17:18 #69859 by Thefirstone
Replied by Thefirstone on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With
Basically, but with more emphasis on the idea that a lot of things humans take for granted are foreign to them.

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24 Nov 2020 17:37 - 24 Nov 2020 17:37 #69860 by The Highlander
Replied by The Highlander on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With
That could be a really interesting idea. I always find it fascinating how different even ostensibly very similar cultures can be.

For example, how many people on this board have eaten a macaron ipie?
Last edit: 24 Nov 2020 17:37 by The Highlander.

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24 Nov 2020 18:10 - 24 Nov 2020 18:13 #69861 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With
I really like Twice's reflection on Martian Manhunter, who when arriving in a truly alien culture, sat in front of the TV watching cartoons, and becaming a full-sized, living version of whatever cartoon character he was watching. 

That's funny, but its also profound. A real shapechanger in an alien culture would not know what shapes to assume at first. Turning into a dog to go play with the neighborhood dogs would be a hoot to watch, but of course, mostly because he wouldn't know how to BE a dog, only to resemble one. Likely wouldn't end well.

And there is always the far more genre-appealing possibility of the alien watching some old Smallville episodes and deciding to turn itself into a young Laura Vandervoort with full Kryptonian powers... just as seen on TV. And then going out and trying to save the world.

That would check a whole bunch of fantasy boxes in my book. <grin>

Imagine the News media, as we know it, trying to figure out THAT story, once she appears in major cities doing her Supergirl stuff.

Even more bizarre, have the alien decide that the most effective secret identity, given that any form is possible, would be to become a guy. Talk about an air-tight disguise. 

Imagine going to High School as a guy, but turning into Laura/Supergirl whenever he/she needed to do super stuff. Or even borrow a page from the earliest Ms. Marvel comic portrayal, where Carol and Ms. Marvel didn't know they were the same being, their transformation would be so complete, involving their memories and self-image with a bit of amnesia in between. It could even be written from the POV of this guy. 

Or, if you want to escape fan-fiction and all its trappings,  invent two completely new characters that behave that way. 

One could explore all kinds of themes with that, even modern ones where gender has become such a popular subject of inquiry. A naive shapechanger would assume gender was just another minor tweak, not realizing that it has profound implications on human behavior and society/culture when dealing with inherently sexual beings like humans. 

Shadar
Last edit: 24 Nov 2020 18:13 by shadar.

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24 Nov 2020 18:20 #69862 by Agent00Soul
Replied by Agent00Soul on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With

shadar wrote: Or even borrow a page from the earliest Ms. Marvel comic portrayal, where Carol and Ms. Marvel didn't know they were the same being, their transformation would be so complete, involving their memories and self-image with a bit of amnesia in between.


I didn't realize they were both in the dark about their identities.  Didn't Ms. Marvel know that Carol was her human alter-ego, but Carol didn't know that she was also Ms Marvel?

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24 Nov 2020 19:34 - 24 Nov 2020 19:38 #69863 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With

Agent00Soul wrote:

shadar wrote: Or even borrow a page from the earliest Ms. Marvel comic portrayal, where Carol and Ms. Marvel didn't know they were the same being, their transformation would be so complete, involving their memories and self-image with a bit of amnesia in between.


I didn't realize they were both in the dark about their identities.  Didn't Ms. Marvel know that Carol was her human alter-ego, but Carol didn't know that she was also Ms Marvel?


You may be right. I was relying on my faulty memory, but now that I think about it, Carol was terrified of becoming Ms Marvel because she couldn't control her or often remember what she'd done. If I'm now recalling that correctly. Carol was a huge control-freak, so this was scary. 

My bigger point was that having a bit of amnesia when changing forms can be an interesting plot device for a shapechanger story. 

For instance, in my quick example about a guy who sometimes becomes Laura/SG, perhaps he remembers being SG, but SG doesn't remember being a guy, and what plot devices that enables. Or envision it the other way around. Either way, it opens up both humorous and dramatic possibilities. 

Shadar
Last edit: 24 Nov 2020 19:38 by shadar.

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25 Nov 2020 00:23 - 25 Nov 2020 00:24 #69865 by YAGS
Replied by YAGS on topic A Form You Are Comfortable With

Thefirstone wrote: One idea I’ve had is an alien heroine who looks human because it’s what humans are comfortable with in-story, either due to being a shapeshifter or because she was grown artificially from modified human DNA by aliens who look decidedly less human to be their ambassador on Earth.

Besides those already mentioned, another well known example similar to this was an episode of the original Star Trek, where aliens made of energy took human forms in order to hijack the Enterprise. 

I had a similar idea, about aliens looking human just to make interaction with our species easier, but mine wasn't necessarily heroic. 

Basically, a space ship arrives on Earth, and the ship's computer contains the minds of the last members of an extinct alien race that were nothing like humanoids. The ship studies humanity by both direct observation, and by intercepting all of the various technological communication methods we broadcast in this day and age. But it takes months, or longer, to figure out our languages and understand any of it, since their species has no concept of written or verbal communication like ours. 

In the mean time, the people of Earth are freaking out about this huge spaceship orbiting the planet, probably sending smaller probes to land and observe different areas of the planet. Some humans probably do something violent out of fear, but it has no effect on their vastly superior alien technology.

Eventually, the aliens figure out the major concepts of verbal and written communication, and how to hack in to see the internet, so they have some basis to communicate with us. They create human-looking bodies for some of the alien minds to inhabit. But they decide that just cloning actual human bodies would be too frail, so their versions look human, but are far more powerful. 

I keep going back and forth on whether this alien race would be entirely evil and just conquer the Earth and treat humans as slaves and playthings, or whether there would be disagreement among the aliens, with some wanting to conquer humans while others fight to protect us. The differing personalities idea obviously provides far more possibilities for interesting real stories. But I've always been a fan of dominating ubergirls, so I'd consider going entirely evil if I was treating it entirely as fetish fiction. 

One thought I had is that maybe they were a peaceful and benevolent race originally, but some of their personality traits were lost in transition when their memories were stored in the computer. So now, some of them would see humans as just a scientific curiousity to be emotionlessly studied, regardless of what kind of harm that would cause the test subjects. 
Last edit: 25 Nov 2020 00:24 by YAGS.

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