In the foreground (from left):
A'zhu'lo (Ki'shto'ba's twin),
Wei'tu and Twa'sei
(the smallest Worker),
Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer
(a Star-Winged Alate)
A wind had sprung up – the tree limbs seemed to be dancing and from a nearby overhang some stones broke loose and skittered down …
Is’a’pai’a was the first to receive the sending and it stopped so abruptly that Wei’tu and Za’dut bumped into its posterior. Then we all took the sensation – an antenna-buzz at once penetrating and delicate, so unusual that we were all entranced. Simultaneously there was the smell of a male At’ein’zei Alate, along with the rank odor of reptiles and the feather-stench of birds!
“Holy Nameless! What can that be?” Ra’fa’kat’wei exclaimed.
And then we detected words in the sending …
Our immediate destination lay southwest, however. In that direction we could see stubby hills thickly covered with dark trees and hung about with mist. I always associate mist with these lands in which we would spend the final days of Ki’shto’ba’s quest.
"Unrealistic situations: literary agents feel that however inventive and imaginative a book can be, some things have to remain genuine and authentic, especially when it comes to human reactions."
So how do you remain "genuine and authentic" when you're writing about giant alien termites? You do it just as I said above -- you make them as close to human as you can. You show that extraterrestrials -- aliens, if we must call them that -- may very well share the human qualities of compassion, caring, loyalty, self-sacrifice, adventurousness, joy, grief, and humor. They also share characteristics like intelligence, stupidity, anger, betrayal, sibling rivalry, a desire for revenge, and the ability to forgive. It doesn't matter if they have three Castes and all of them are deaf and two Castes are blind. It doesn't matter if they can only speak through their antennae, if they breathe through the sides of their bellies, if the Warriors can't feed themselves, if some of the species eat their own dung, or if all of them are necrophages. What really matters is what is in their guts, or as humans might prefer to say, in their hearts -- their several hearts. That is what makes them "genuine and authentic" and I'm egocentric enough to think I achieve that. Whether a literary agent would ever think so is irrelevant.
Thanks again to Nicholas Rossis for giving me the idea for this blog post.