Life & Getting High
Many of us have come to decide that many of the adventures in life were for getting high on. Still, when I sit alone life comes to get more well known. The more I know the less I know. I need more of myself then what is out there. What is killing me is that life is more about what is inside then out in the abyss.
One of the many failures of modern exobiology is its missing imagination. Since you bring it up, since when did life need to be carbon based in hydro-chemistry? One of the repeating patterns of life every time I visit the well is that it reproduces and generates self-energy. It also must be capable of producing work or you wouldn’t be here right now.
Understandably, life in science is about testability. Without it we might as well forget about it all and go home. We all know that carbon derived life works so why stray? Well the universe is a titanic expanse, from here to the most distant Quasar. Since when did life need to obey the same rules? It need only obey the same physics, and let the rest tend to itself. If you don’t trust me, then read up about the funky creatures living in our own ocean on Earth.
One of the groovy things about science fiction is that it sometimes assembles innovative life forms to dwell on. In the legendary Babylon 5 series the man Captain John Sheridan encounters a life form composed of gas or even pure energy. Since you mention it, it is already known that alternate biochemistries are possible.
One of the popular ones is silicone, which while not without drawbacks presents a serious alternative. It would be possible to construct organisms out of silicones, and their chemistry would be more stable than hydrocarbon compounds in sulfuric acid rich conditions. Still under classical temperatures it would remain insoluble to water, notwithstanding alternate pressures.
Another one could be nitrogen and phosphorous, which when combined can form a wide array of stable molecules. It is well known that plants could absorb nitrogen dioxide from the atmosphere and mix it with phosphorous, with the output being oxygen and a unique form of sugar.
Did I mention arsenic? While it is still poisonous to most life, it is also used in the biochemistry of some marine algae to make arsenosugars and other molecules. Sulfur is another possibility that is already incorporated into some exotic sulfur-reducing bacteria.
Face it; the universe is a strange place. The more you imagine the closer you may get to the truth. The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.