Recently, I read a German translation of Thousand Years on Venus, a novel by the Hungarian writer György Botond-Bolics. One of his characters expressed the following opinion:
We are human beings, Demeter, and we cannot figure out the world around us except through the eyes of the human being, through the brain of the human being. There has never been a writer, neither a major one nor a minor one, who could or dared write about beings from another world without human, earthly connections. Whenever his imagination put devices in their hands, these are merely imitations of our devices. Whenever he has them thinking, and admits that they also can communicate their thoughts, he only reflects our words, our mentality. Can we ever understand or perceive a world which is not an imitation of ours?1
The problem, I think, is here thoroughly set. Even so, and in opposition to the opinion of Botond-Bolics, some writers have been able, albeit rarely, to invent living beings that share as few similarities with us as is possible; indeed, science fiction cannot get along without this strange fauna. Although the required zoology and ethnology, or even, I dare say, the anthropology still remains to be done, I would like to give a few examples.
In my study, I have followed two principles: First, I emphasize little-known texts, theoretical or fictitious. Thus, I avoid referring to (except in one instance) English-language SF. Second, because in this small space I can neither give enough texts nor do more than merely summarize the ones I give, I move quickly to theory. Theory is more risky, but stimulating and exciting precisely in proportion to that risk.