I love the idea of clockwork creatures sent out to do human bidding – a spy beetle, a cat with a sensor in its twitching tail (what, you haven’t heard of the acoustic kitty?).
But even more than that – perhaps I’ve mentioned this before? – I enjoy thinking about the inner lives of animals. People seem to think that non-human creatures are necessarily non-complex – that because a jellyfish appears so alien its paradigms must diverge absolutely from our own. Maybe that’s true, but it doesn’t mean such creatures have no paradigms, or even that they should not in our imaginations. Film/television aliens can skew pretty far towards the jelly or crustacean, after all, without ever giving up their terrible sentience and purposiveness.
When talking about the ocean, people express the most fear for massive creatures – a shark barreling up from below; a giant squid; a leftover plesiosaur. But wouldn’t it be just as uncanny to see a group of tiny glowing creatures hovering together – and then simultaneously changing course?
(Also, let’s mention Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I think it’s a pretty awesome movie concept, as far as our current endless stream of remakes go. But is the idea of apes rising up against humanity really as conceptually creepy as, say The Birds? Apes are already so close to being human [yes, I know, humans are apes and a rectangle is not a square] that it seems mostly like a war flick. Not being able to fathom or anticipate your attacker’s motivations is, to me, much more upsetting.)