Cruel Parodies | The Dalazinnu


Vanakkam. With this installment I give you another sapient species, the Dalazinnu of Gods of Terra, the rulers of the Sodality, beings uplifted from alien animal stock by an extinct psionically aware branch of humanity known as the Kamuza. The Dalazinnu ur-species were pack predators native to the Kamuza homeworld possessing a bent for restricted cannibalism (restricted, otherwise they would quickly become extinct), and a strong sense of obedience and loyalty toward leadership in small groups. I’ve drawn as inspiration the official Traveller universe’s Major Race the Vargr, creating something out of a nightmare compared to the amicable and relatively benign if freebooting “Wolves of Space.” 

Both species have difficulty in organizing in large groups, though the Dalazinnu come from uplifted big cat analogs, and have a nasty temperament. True social darwinists, and far exceeding even political Libertarians in this, Dalazinnu believe the strongest and most ruthless should rule. Pack leaders gain and keep their authority through force of arms, all four of them, and great big nasty teeth too! 

Wait, WHAT?! Four arms?! 

They’re based on a bilateral hexapod body structure, with two legs and two pairs of upper limbs, one with powerful muscles and thick, heavy  claws, and above it a smaller, more delicate pair of arms meant for fine manipulation and weapon use. The lower, stronger pair of upper limbs is heavily padded and may be used as forelimbs in quadrupedal sprints while chasing prey.  

Dalazinnu look roughly like a nightmarish cross between a bobcat and Tyrannosaurus rex, standing about 2.5 meters fully erect, with large tufted ears, patches of downy fur mixed with red scales, and three eyes, the central one a modification of a unitary gland in the forebrain. The tail is heavy, not very flexible, and used for balancing the body while standing or during sprints on either two or four limbs.  

The Vargr are concisely described here. 

Dalazinnu are notoriously ill-tempered, and are psychologically unable to see aliens as anything other than enemies or slaves, having originated as slaves themselves before turning on their masters who bred them as soldiers. Dalazinnu are endothermic and have ravenous appetites, and will resort to eating captured enemies and slaves who disobey them. Dalazinnu have vision ranging into the near-infrared and acute hearing with a register threshold ranging into the ultrasonic. Their vocal output also ranges into the ultrasonic, and they have developed hearing aids for their slaves to better hear questions or commands when issued.  

Dalazinnu have a range of genders along a spectrum, and can hormonally shift along that spectrum that as needs dictate when numbers are low. A group of roughly 2000 or more can easily serve as a sustainable breeding population on a newly conquered world.  

The Dalazinnu have enslaved a species known as the Chadameer, who serve as their chief scientists, technicians, and go-betweens with aliens, due to the extreme levels of hostility Dalazinnu exhibit toward other species. A subpopulation of Chadameer with a tendency for recessive genetic traits also serves as telepaths, and are used as the chief interrogators and diplomats for other species. 

You do not want to meet one of these things, much less a squad of them during combat operations, and the Sodality is known as a rogue state in the Local Galaxy. It is also effectively leaderless, due to the dominant species’ reluctance to organize on large scales. This is universally regarded as a Good Thing™, but the other powers of the Local Galaxy keep a close eye on the Sodality…. 

….Just in case! 

Cruel Parodies | Inaugural Post – Dinathog-Trulg


Vanakkam. Welcome to the first in a new series of entries where I talk about… things… created from other things, without copyright infringement woes!

The title of this series is credited to SF writer S.A. Barton, who in a recent tweet showed such a parody of Larry Niven’s puppeteers – humans!

In like vein, I’ll be using templates from across speculative fiction, credited to their original sources, and from these create beings and creatures of my own only tenuously connected to the originals. I do this primarily by focusing on a particular distinctive trait, or set of traits, and use these to create the new creature or species from otherwise whole cloth.

So, for this inaugural post, let me present one I’ve already done, the vermoid Dinathog-Trulg:

The template for this species was Doctor Who’s genocidal alien mutants, the Daleks, originally created by Terry Nation. I decided to keep only the genocidal part and completely reverse their motivation: not hate, but instead love drives them to commit mass extinctions!

Dinathog-Trulg are anti-Daleks. See below:

Rather than essentially being tentacled brains in metal shells, these are free-standing two-meter long wormlike beings, with twenty-seven limbs in three sets of nine that look like worms themselves.

Yech!

But back to motivation!

Dinathog-Trulg are religious zealots, and in their theology see the universe as a place of pain and suffering. In their view, a kind of hell.

So their great mission is to save all life in the universe by sending it to the realm of their alien gods, one orbital cannon blast or planet-buster bomb, at a time, such is their sick, twisted love for all life.

Kind of like the Medieval Inquisition of Terra, and its drive to, among other things, save the souls of alleged heretics by torturing and burning them at the stake.

The species’ entire society is based around a system of nine clerical and monastic orders which serve different functions, lead by a shadowy supreme figure known as the Holiest.

But what keeps them from merely killing themselves off?

Humility, of a sort.

They are convinced that until they’ve sent everything else in the universe to paradise, they themselves are not worthy to ascend, and must remain behind to suffer for the universe’s life until the very end.

They make great villains, even though they love everybody, but it’s the kind of love most of us humans would rightly be creeped out by from those in our own species.

This series continues, with the next installment being a critter inspired by one of the Traveller RPG’s aliens in a hideously cruel parody indeed!

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Gods of Terra | Aliens in Fiction: How Not to Design Them


As a science fiction fan who’s written fiction of my own, and this blog and elsewhere, I like to design my own aliens. Recently I got a comment on an older post of mine, and since I don’t normally respond to comments on posts more than two weeks old, I thought I’d instead respond here.

Here’s the comment:

I searched this topic to try to find a site that would tell me not what to do as I write my first alien contact book.
I have never been on this site before, and don’t know if replying is possible, but if so, can you reply and tell me what not to do? Or someone, anyone. I’m trying to create an interesting diverse alien culture for my already created human hybrid race to interact with positively, but with some difficulties. My main character is a language communication expert.

So, what not to do when designing aliens (plausible, however fictional)? Here are some quick tips:

  • Don’t succumb to humans-in-funny-suits syndrome: Aliens in looks should be aliens in mentality. At the very least, especially with obvious nonhumans, give them some sort of outstanding but plausible psychological or cultural distinctions from other species that will not only set them apart, but make them memorable to the readers of whatever fiction you’re writing. Remember: aliens will have evolved in a different set of selective pressures than humans, and this will be true of variant humans as well. This fact will shape their minds and societies as it shapes their bodies. Build them accordingly, but try to avoid stereotyping them (My, I wonder whose first mate and engineer that Wookie is?). This hold even if the aliens have a hive-mind, as there will probably be a functional division of labor in the species.
  • Unless for historical or other good reasons, like prior contact with humans in the setting, avoid having the aliens automatically know human languages. I highly recommend inventing the alien’s own language, at least a few useful phrases at start. It’s not only a good exercise, but fun as well. I’m currently designing the language of my own alien humans, the Kai’Siri, and it’s a blast!
  • Don’t give them too much in the way of  weird powers. Not only is this bad from a role-playing perspective, as it unbalances the species in play and relegates them to mostly non-player character status, and without limits it’s boring to readers. the alien tech should not be too rubber-sciencey and not over-explained — Remember: A good explanation is better than no explanation, but none at all is better than a contrived and implausible explanation. The Holtzman effect in Dune is a good example of a rubber-science plot device that was not over-explained nor implausibly so.
  • Aside from weird powers, avoid an otherwise implausible biology for your species, unless you are writing Weird Tale fiction where impossible Things That Must Not Be Named™ have good reason to exist in the story (It’s horror, after all.). Even in Lovecraft’s own fiction, like At The Mountains of Madness, the Old Ones were given reasonably plausible (using the known science of the time) traits and were relatively well thought out. They did, after all, make it into Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials! [an update] Also bear in mind that most alien species will not be able to breed with humans unless human variants themselves, and even that will be iffy with extreme deviations from the norm.

Conclusion: These are a few key things to bear in mind in creating aliens, and their use ought to take some of the headache out of the process. I hope this answers your questions, and if not, I can always write follow-up posts on this, one of my favorite topics.

Flash Fiction: I, King of Shards


In my place of work, I labor on a project. On this day, I create a new race, raising them to sapience from common grubs found on a world in a dying galaxy.

Tendrils of living hyperplasm deftly flick toggles on a console of light, as displays of the species’s genetic material show its multi-helix structure, highlighting likely points of change and suggesting options.

Yes. I think I’ll tweak the code just a bit for the adult form, influencing the development of neural ganglia toward formation of two complete brains—one at each end of the body. The larval stage comes first, of course, but most of the design work goes into the thinking stage—that of the adults.

I glance in six-dimensional clarity at the sample vials and quickly assembled habitats for the larval form. They are simple forms, really, living in small mounds of a peat found only on their world. A grub emerges from its burrow, looking warily about, then focusing on me before contracting and quickly retreating into the soil.

I am the King of Shards, a hyperdimensional being with a penchant for making things. Never mind how I got my name, as even I remember not. But this race, this new order of beings, I create as the servants of myself, and of the other eight of our little clique, the Nine who are One. It is a race that will shake the universe, in this, our Grand Civilization.

I look at the virtual console. I think I’ll make them bigger, much bigger in the adult stage. The larval form is simply too small for the kind of brain mass and architecture I have in mind. I flick the appropriate genetic switches. This, I say, is how to take evolution into one’s own hands. I then actuate the change made in all the sample grubs.

I step back as if it were possible for one such as myself to take steps without feet, and look at the habitats. More grubs are emerging to the surface, all of them with the new genetics, all gathering for the final stage. They squirm and writhe about as they pile onto each other by the thousands. I step back again, observing my handiwork. Each of the grubs loses cohesion as the squirming mass undergoes biological fusion, a form of metamorphosis into a single organism. Other habitats in my workspace show the same thing. I shall have several adults to teach.

Glorious.

Random aggregations of larvae form distinct body-portions; sensory limbs; limbs for speech; and limbs for movement. Displays track the development of the brains in each of the new beings. Coming along nicely.

After only minutes, metamorphosis complete.

Their brains are fully developed, but empty of knowledge. They struggle to stand upright on their limbs. They make sounds without words, confused by what their new senses are telling them. I upload the very fundaments of their learning into their minds. The rest they must learn through personal instruction.

“Mas-ter…” One of them pipes and slurps as it directs its nine sensory limbs at me. I smile, the only way one of my status can smile, as my handiwork slowly rises to its nine feet, emerging from the habitat where its larval stage lived. Others like it crawl from their habitats and circle about me in obeisance. “Fa-ther…Mo-ther…” they say in unison, bowing low before their creator. Before me.

I look around at them, this time from the perspective of only five dimensions, as I direct my hyperspatial thought-streams toward them and say…

“Listen my children, for you are the dawn of a new species. I have created you, and henceforth you shall be known as the Suthidruu. Listen, and heed all that I tell you…”

I say that, only now noticing in some of them just the slightest twinge of fervor, of worshipfulness, perhaps of madness, and for the life of me can’t escape the thought of a flaw in my new creations.

And it makes me a little uneasy.

Yet Another Ancient Astronaut Claim in the News


Maya stucco glyphs diplayed in the museum at P...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, isn’t this nice… A report on Reuters alleges that “Mayan Documentary Will Show Evidence of Alien Contact”, and truth be told, I’d be much more inclined to take this seriously if they planned to show something like, oh, I don’t know… genuine artifacts of indisputably alien technology or even ET mummies, or something.

Due to the immense technological requirements of interstellar travel, such artifacts, if actually found, would have to be unlike anything on Earth, even from our most bleeding-edge research, and the biology of any alien bodies would also be unmistakably extraterrestrial, impossible to confuse with our own sort of life except by the most rank incompetent…

I would have hoped for something that we haven’t seen before…Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, according to the report.

No, instead they’re going to be showing the same crappy evidence as in works of fiction like “Morning of the Magicians,” and “Chariots of the Gods?,” misconstruing it with the same tired old arguments from ignorance, though it appears that they’re spicing it up by latching onto the whole 2012 Mayan calendar nonsense.

James Randi was so on point with his idea of unsinkable rubber duckies, since even long-debunked claims never go away for long, they just rise from the ashes given new life.

Color me disappointed on this one…There just doesn’t seem anything interesting to anticipate.

Yet another example of the media giving too much coverage and false balance to pseudoscience.