Episode 18: Alien minds

 Nasute termite soldiers in Peru are communicating without speech in this photo by  Alex Wild .

Nasute termite soldiers in Peru are communicating without speech in this photo by Alex Wild.

It's easy to stick prosthetics on someone's face and call them an alien. But how do we represent a truly alien form of consciousness? In this episode, we talk about science fiction that succeeds (or fails) to evoke alien minds--whether they hail from other planets, or evolve inside our computers. Plus, we talk to guest Lisa Margonelli about her new book Underbug, which explores termite society. Did you know that termites socialize using butt juice? Learn all about that and more! 

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Works, creators, and other things cited:

HG Wells, War of the Worlds

HR Giger, designer of the aliens from the Alien series

Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (the novel)

Solaris (the American remake)

Octavia Butler, Xenogenesis series

Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Contact (the movie)

Arthur C. Clarke, author of Rendezvous with Rama

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version)

Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land, origin of the word “grok”

Robert Heinlein, “The Goldfish Bowl”

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Arrival

Alan Moore’s Green Lantern series about Rot Lop Fan

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Martha Wells, Murderbot series

Her

Hal the AI from 2001

Marvin the paranoid android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Person of Interest, “Zero Day”

Damien Williams

Annalee Newitz, “Robots Need Civil Rights Too” (Boston Globe)

Joanna Bryson

Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

Lisa Margonelli, Underbug

Wyss Institute at Harvard

Kirstin Petersen

Anna Dornhaus Lab (Social Insect Lab at ASU)

Annalee Newitz