floating in cytoplasm
& the Oankali.
So I guess I really like the aliens in the Lilith's Brood series, the Oankali. Not necessarily even these Oankali, these tall humanoid tentacle creatures, but rather the actual core concept behind the Oankali. See, the Oankali call themselves "Traders," as in, gene traders; they encounter new forms of life & "trade" with them-- meaning that the Oankali are creating a next generation of Oankali children with Human traits, but that they are also creating a next generation of Human children with Oankali traits...& that those two pools are the new Oankali. That is simplifying the relationships behind the intermingling, however, & those relationships are at the core of Adulthood Rites. Dawn dealt more with the mechanics of the aliens, of their three genders-- male, female & ooloi, the latter of which are the ones who do the act of genetic remixing, rather than having meiosis jumble the chromosomes up randomly-- & their biotechnology, as seen through Lilith's point of view. This one is mostly about her construct son, Akin, & his relationships with the Oankali, his extended family, the Humans who are resisting the Oankali's plan, & the Oankali who are remaining apart. See, when the Oankali "trade," one group settles on the planet-- the Dinso, on Earth-- one group stays with the mothership-- the Toaht-- & one group who departs without taking part of the trade-- the Akjai. That way they have a buffer against any self-destructive genetic or cultural traits. The driving force of the latter half of the book is Akin lobbying to have a Human Akjai, to let some Humans remain unaltered by the "trade," despite what the Oankali call the "Human Contradiction," which is that Humans are driven by both intelligence & a need for vertical hierarchies, which the Oankali believe dooms the species to suicidal self-extinction, such as the apocalyptic war that began the series. One thing: I really, really like how Octavia Butler capitalizes "Human," which is a convention I've always been for in fantasy & science-fiction; I think terms like "Neanderthal" & "Vulcan" have set a clear precedent for capitalized species names. My prediction for this book was that Akin would become ooloi, not male, especially after he was abandoned to the Phoenix & the Oankali were talking about how their gender neutral children tend to express as ooloi under harsh circumstances...but I was wrong! Maybe that means that the third book, Imago, will be about an ooloi descendant of Lilith?