Well, first, if it’s done on Earth, by anyone, it’s probably used somewhere. Mere external fertilization, et. al., is relatively mundane. The temísi, say, are quite straightforwardly parthenogenic. For exotic – well, then we’re getting into how the vlcefc reproduce by having their motiles spin a new brain-web, something that any number from one up can do together. Or the esseli literally building the next generation in their gene-labs. Or the codramaju simply coming together as X individuals and coming apart as X+n individuals, any of whom may contain various different bits of the minds of the original X. Or…
And that’s before people come up with clever ideas like bigenetic organisms, in which – say, a plant and insect are mutually engineered so that the plant can grow insect eggs and the insect lay plant seeds, thus enabling them to mutually spread each other in early-stage ecopoesis, and contribute to a more stable ecological web overall.
Bizarre Alien Psychology: Most of them, to one degree or another, however well concealed it may be by translation and commonly agreed protocols. Particularly notable are the aklaknak and embatil, both of whom are collegiate intelligences rather than single consciousnesses; the codramaju and seb!nt!at, who don’t use identity the same way we do; the cusaron and hjera, which are hive minds of different internal topology; the járaph, who are total solipsists; the mezuar, who are forests; the múrast and voctonari, who have five or so minds each; the tennoa, who are obligate utilitarians; and the vlcefc, who have a sessile brain with coordinating independent non-sophont motiles.
Also, of course, much of the point behind uplift – so you can have minds around the place with fascinatingly different points of view.
Bizarre Alien Locomotion: In many variants on the standard walking, flying, and swimming, certainly. Eliéra’s bluelife includes its tubefish, for example, which move via peristaltic pumping of water, not swimming as we know it.
Among sophont races, the chfssssc swim through solid rock thanks to what one might call an active metabolism, the ciamél turn into vapor in order to move, the codramaju ooze along on pseudopodia, the d!grith brachiate along artificial vines, the esseli use whatever locomotive organs they happen to have today, the galari have built in maglev functionality, the kaliatar can coil themselves up and roll like a mythological hoopsnake, the seb!nt!at may well be there already, the vlcefc are webs carried by their motile castes, and that’s just scratching the surface…
DISCLAIMER: All population figures found herewithin should be considered provisional and contested.
Ongoing controversies exist where the correct measurement of population figures is concerned, including:
Accounting of clone families;
Accounting of fork families, both synchronized (cikrieth) and desynchronized, and the measurement of repeated non-persistent forks;
Accounting of group intellects, including both true hive-mind species (such as the hjera and cusaron) and independent Fusions, representing single minds in a multiplicity of bodies, and collective consciousnesses (such as the Eldraeic Transcend), representing multiple independent minds sharing only specific layers; as well as multiple intermediate and overlapping cases;
Accounting of collegiate-intelligence species, such as the embatil and aklaknak;
Accounting of naturally fork/merge capable species, such as the codramaju;
Accounting of biologically casted species in which only a single caste or a subset of castes is sophont, such as the vlcefc, or the gender-based equivalent;
Accounting of polysapic species possessing multiple natural minds acting in accord, such as the múrast and voctonari;
Accounting for members of species not possessing sophoncy at all points during their lifespan, including but not limited to the majority of r-selected species;
Accounting for presently-inactivate species members, including those in long-term cryostasis/nanostasis or data storage;
Accounting for the deceased retaining active cognition within technologically-mediated afterlives;
Accounting for unconventional forms of identity, such as teleological threads;
Location accounting of infomorphs (by processor or by avatar/point-of-interaction location);
Legal differences of opinion on the prosophont/sophont boundary;
Calibration of population accounting for post-sophont entities, both regarding the appropriateness of categorizing such minds on an equivalent scale with baselines, and inasmuch as high post-sophont minds are capable of generating transient and/or lasting sophont memes in the normal course of cognition;
And so forth.
While recognizing that in many cases appropriate answers to these questions is determined contextually (the computation of required life-support capacity obviously is dependent on bioshell-population, for example), the meaning of population in the generalized sense requires the resolution of these questions, many of which are hotly debated philosophical, theological, and/or political topics in many of the Worlds’ polities.
As such, we have chosen to use population figures, in all cases superseding those locally provided, established by the Imperial Grand Survey, whose methodology has the virtue of being consistent, transparent, and well-documented (see publication IGS-1134/P rev. 112).
– from the preface to the Associated Worlds Factbook, Conclave Press
“Thus it is said that an eldrae thinks pacing; a dar-bandal, sniffing; a galari, hovering; a kaeth, fighting; a dar-ííche, floating; a sssc!haaaouú, blowing; a mezuar, standing; an esseli, twitching; a codramaju, merging; a kalatri, sitting; a járaph, of itself; a selyéva, basking; a vlcefc, hanging; a spinbright, watching; an embatil, arguing; a múrast, many times; a seb!nt!at, already; a digisapience, continuously; an azayf, afterwards; and a ulijen, too late.”
– Stereotypes of the Worlds, Imperial University of Almeä Press
Bee People: There are several species out there with an approximately eusocial structure, although not always the conventional queen/drone/warrior/worker setup, and by far the majority of them do not have a Hive Mind – evolving bioradio-techlepathy ain’t that easy. Prominent examples would be the múrast (who don’t have singular queens, but rather an assembler caste who do not function as the leaders), and the mirilasté (who play this straighter, but don’t have a warrior caste), and the [hive-minded] vlcefc, who would appear to be some kind of spider/mammal-hybrid-analog using an ant-like social plan, except that the queen/brain caste is the web, not any of the motiles.