There are other differences, of course. Their language can neither be easily understood nor easily transcribed. They don’t read left-to-right or right-to-left or top-to-bottom but all at once, meaning whatever is in their field of vision can be read instantly. All of it. This skill can be very handy for anyone putting together IKEA furniture.
[Nota bene: The publisher of this novel spent a large amount of tax-deductible money securing an English-language translation of all alien-languages appearing in this book. Alien-languages in the audio version of this book will be subtitled]
They have limited telepathic skills and, especially in times of stress, can communicate with each other over short distances through their thoughts, a skill that makes idyll conversation and chit-chat unnecessary, and their lives, on the whole, much more meaningful and interesting.
Above all, Earthnothians are very literal. In fact, if they have any single flaw it is in their lack of a sense of humor. Tell them the joke about two termites walking into a bar where one termite asks “Is the bar tender here?” and they’ll want to know where the termites came from or how come nobody stepped on them or if the termites are related or married or co-workers and, hey, why did they choose that particular bar in the first place– of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world why did they step into that one? The joke’s punchline would fly unnoticed over their head like cosmic dust from Bode’s Galaxy.
Truth be told, this tell-it-like-it-is-just-the-facts-ma’am approach is the chief reason why stand-up comedy never took off on their planet in the first place. Certainly, they have been known to laugh on occasion. But when they do, it is typically as a nervous reaction to a stressful situation, something of a vestigial remain left deeply inside them. Where we might gasp or scream, they would most likely giggle or bray. Such unexpected and inopportune laughter can be awkward.
Although they have matured beyond the need to understand puns or strut one’s stuff, beat one’s chest, and wage war on perceived enemies for misunderstood slights, they are still subject to the basic laws of physics that skim along and bump into each other throughout the universe like a game of air hockey. They’re conceived, born, receive an education, work at boring jobs, start families, get sick, and eventually die. Yadda-yadda-yadda. Badda bing, badda boom. Repeat spin cycle.
That’s not to say they don’t have their fair share of arguments and oopsies. They are remarkedly accident prone, to a fault, and have no sense of direction whatsoever. If turning left is the correct move, they are just as likely to turn right—or proceed ahead without turning.
On their planet, just as on ours, the universal laws of physics are matched by the universal laws of parenting. Parents constantly worry about their off-spring, and children don’t want anything to do with their parents. In other words …
Family vacations suck.
[End of Chapter 1. Chapter 2 will begin after a short break]