Edited by Mike Resnick


by Mike Resnick

SCIENCE FICTION LOVES aliens. We’ve had cute aliens, frightening aliens, brilliant aliens, stupid aliens, friendly aliens, hate-filled aliens, lustful aliens, aliens who think and sound just like us, and aliens whom we will never begin to understand.

The true alien is a cipher that doesn’t serve much use in science fiction. If he exists—excuse me: if it exists—it probably breathes methane, excretes bricks, smells colors, reproduces by budding, and has totally different concepts (if it has any at all) of love, hate, fear, and pain.

So, very early on, science fiction writers learned to use aliens as metaphors for various aspects of the human condition—as a funhouse mirror they could hold up to humanity to examine whatever happens to be pleasing or annoying the writer that particular day.

The history of science fiction is filled with aliens, many of whom became more popular than the humans from the same stories. You can go all the way back to Tars Tarkas in the Martian stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs; the whole crew of Second Stage Lensmen in Doc Smith’s Lensman saga; Tweel in Stanley G. Weinbaum’s “A Martian Odyssey”; and on through memorable and beloved aliens created by Eric Frank Russell, Roger Zelazny, Vonda Mclntyre, and dozens of others, right up to Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga.

Every science fiction writer has created aliens at one time or another. Even Isaac Asimov, who populated his robotic and Foundation futures with nothing but humans, eventually got around to it in The Gods Themselves. And certainly every writer in this book has created aliens in previous stories.

But this time we asked them to do something different. Remember that I said aliens were incomprehensible? Well, not anymore—because each author was asked to write a story in the first person of an alien. The aliens in these stories are not just the main characters; they’re the narrators.

Last year I edited Men Writing Science Fiction as Women and Women Writing Science Fiction as Men for DAW Books. Those were nice imaginative stretches, but nothing compared to the stretching the authors in this book were asked to do.

And, being science fiction writers, they succeeded in ways that surprised even the editor.


by Laura Resnick


After a long and arduous journey during which I traveled five thousand light-years without a bathroom stop, I have arrived safely at my destination, code named “The Planet with Waffles” by the Interstellar Council on Covert Relocation (ICOCR). However, there were several mishaps during my voyage which made me fear I would not survive long enough to submit my application to the Bureau of Galactic Refugees, Escapees, and Synchronized Swimmers (BO-GRESS) for my Relocated Interstellar Fugitive benefits.

The catastrophic explosion of my transport vehicle’s sound system when I neglected to install proper safety devices before exposing it to With Wafflish music, code named “Britney Spears,” caused my navigational system to malfunction. Consequently, I am not in the designated landing zone, code named “City of Angels.” That destination was selected for me by ICOCR on the basis of a report in the seven hundred-fifty-third edition of The Interdimensional Guide to Galactic Emigration which cited experiential evidence indicating that my arrival would go unnoticed there. So I was very alarmed when I realized I had missed the target zone by quite some distance due to the technical malfunction which made my navigational system mistake virtually all landmarks for my former mother-in-law.

Fortunately, however, despite this problem, I seem to have landed in a zone as benign as the designated one, this one being code named, according to my observations, “Sin City.” Despite causing some negligible destruction to indigenous machinery upon landing, my arrival attracted no serious attention and incited no comment beyond a few untranslatable exclamations from several natives making elaborate but incomprehensible gestures.

After emerging from my vehicle, I discovered that the transport pod’s molecular-restructuring device was damaged during landing and no longer functioned. To quote the most sophisticated philosopher whom I have encountered in my background reading on the Planet with Waffles: It’s always something. This mishap meant that I could not disguise the pod as a nuclear warhead, though I’d been informed that this was advisable in order to conceal evidence of my arrival and to protect the pod from discovery in the event of a laborious indigenous ritual, code named “UN weapons inspection.”

Eager to avoid exposure as a newly-arrived interstellar fugitive from injustice, I immediately adopted the personal demeanor which ICOCR advised me is appropriate on the Planet with Waffles, which is to say that I began wriggling and drooling whenever encountering native inhabitants. Concerned about my inability to camouflage my transport pod as planned, I have spent the past three planetary solar cycles discreetly observing it from a nearby vantage point, code named “Caesar’s Palace.” I am now convinced that the pod arouses no curiosity, suspicion, or agitation in the indigenous life-forms of this hot, arid, rather garish locale. I believe I can safely abandon it.

Admittedly, I was alarmed at one point when a native armed with a club, a projectile weapon, and restraints approached the pod and spent some time examining it. However, he merely made brief notations on a small piece of paper, which he then affixed to the pod, and he walked away and has not returned. Based on my information about With Wafflish customs, I believe he is offering me a written salutation or else giving me a personal voucher for monetary compensation.

With my demanding journey completed and my anonymous arrival confirmed to my satisfaction, I now turn my attention to fully assimilating myself into the world of Waffles.


I am, of course, merely guessing about the galactic date, since I have yet to find a quasar-cycled timekeeping matrix on this primitive planet. For the purpose of keeping an accurate record of my activities here, I have attempted to reprogram an arcane but readily-available informational system known as “Windows” to compute a galactic calendar by extracting what logical reference points it can from the localized sesquicentennial equinox balanced vertically against the ratio of the adjusted theoretical galactic axis to the mean acceleration of solar expansion.

To this end, I am encountering some technical difficulties.


My caseworker at the ICOCR recommended the Planet with Waffles because of its obscurity in the galactic scheme of things. Her/his/its exact words were, “No sentient being will ever find you in that remote rear-liquid of a star system.” (I believe he/she/it meant “backwater,” but universal translation devices are notoriously literal.)

My caseworker evidently gave me good advice, since I have yet to spot a familiar race, let alone a seemingly intelligent one. Given the high price on my head back home, due to my fearless opposition of the Anti-Gravity Tax Penalty and my bold leadership of a rebellion which nearly brought down the government and all its hairdressers, I cannot risk coming into contact with any individuals who might recognize me, expose me, or send me back to the oppressive regime which has vowed to neuter me and take away my toys if I’m captured alive. (And what they’ve vowed to do to me if I’m captured dead is so cruel that I cannot bear to repeat it.)

Luckily, as my caseworker anticipated, my physiology ensures that I am so far passing as a native inhabitant of With Waffles. Unfortunately, however, With Wafflers seem to be a deeply suspicious race. Whenever I query individuals for information, they’re alarmed to the point of hostility.

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