- Range of alien life
- Extrapolating from animal strategies
- Alien communication
- Alien culture
- Potentially great, strange beauty
- Conscious universe
- Matrioshka brain
- Variations of life
- Crystalline entities
All of our conceptions of what aliens might be like are usually human bodies with heads or faces an artistic mix between human and other animals of earth.
Their civilisations are usually very similar to our own.
We must first see alien life to be able to imagine it.
Range of alien life
We have pretty much no idea.
So it is fertile ground for speculation, and that is exactly what this section is all about.
Even with low end estimates for the probability of life occurring on a planet, with so many galaxies in the universe you still end up with estimates of civilisations in the hundreds of billions, and for more basic life it is many magnitudes higher than that.
With quantities like these, some truly crazy things must be around. We are free to speculate what lies deep in the universe beyond our ability to detect, like dragons and monsters on the edge of an ancient map.
There is also considerable overlap in this section with speculation on what the future of humanity may hold.
Extrapolating from animal strategies
Perhap you can use Animal strategies use this to speculate on Alien life, based on strategic requirements.
(I.e. "Being militarily strong would be advantageous for an alien civilisation", as opposed to "E.T. must have some kind of an armed forces" - like Sharing the Universe by Seth Shostak)
Aliens that communicate through flashes of light- like we do with flashes of sound. It's intricate too. And it doesn't have to be visible light either.
If they are spacefaring, surely they must include strong elements of science and engineering.
Potentially great, strange beauty
H.P. Lovecraft, The Silver Key
When Randolph Carter was thirty he lost the key of the gate of dreams. Prior to that time he had made up for the prosiness of life by nightly excursions to strange and ancient cities beyond space, and lovely, unbelievable garden lands across ethereal seas; but as middle age hardened upon him he felt these liberties slipping away little by little, until at last he was cut off altogether. No more could his galleys sail up the river Oukranos past the gilded spires of Thran, or his elephant caravans tramp through perfumed jungles in Kled, where forgotten palaces with veined ivory columns sleep lovely and unbroken under the moon.
What if the universe itself is somehow, someway, conscious? What if there is something about the universe that connects every part of it to each other, and through time? What if a future, highly advanced civilisation could build some kind of brain that experiences this all at once - thus 'awakening' the universe?
Variations of life
A species that has genetically modified its own brain to be less emotional, and more intelligent. But those in power influenced the process, and has also instilled obedience. Their leadership decays into gluttony and decadence, but the 'people' cannot revolt, they can only obey.
They also end up with problems of variation. If everyone's smart in the same way, variation is lost.
A species that steadfastly refuses to modify their brains. They get stuck in that kind of 'theocracy' and don’t end up moving beyond certain problems. Also they refuse to develop because they don’t want to experiment on consciousness and brains.
A species that outsources questions of governance and attempts to move beyond problems like corruption (which may be a universal thing for 'living' things that are subject to natural selection) by using supercomputers or AI. But they run into problems in that the people who programmed the AI are fallible, and the AI ends up acting unfairly because of it.
A species that is actually evolved for space travel, without the use of tools. Like the Thresher Maw from Mass Effect. Maybe it doesn’t even care for living on a planet (since it might get stuck there), maybe they just exist in low gravity asteroid fields. Perhaps they have a number of life-stages like an insect; a deep space stasis, an asteroid state, and a state for if they land on a planet (I guess they'll be killed in landing though)
A species that is all about intelligence and the tools. They have no physical ability; that has been outsourced to the machines that they develop.
It's entirely possible that other alien species simply don't see the point in expansion.
For the mission description of the Fleet Action, see: Crystalline Catastrophe. The Crystalline Entity is a massive spaceborne cosmozoan that can be found in the Teneebia Sector. It can travel at warp speeds and sustains itself by consuming organic material using a Matter Conversion Beam.