Alien Races

"I been readin' 'bout how maybe they is planets peopled by folks with ad-vanced brains. On the other hand, maybe we got the most brains ... maybe our intellects is the universe's most advanced. Either way, it's a mighty soberin' thought."
– Porkypine in "Pogo the Possum," July 28, 1973, by Walt Kelly

Although Terrans are the first to develop starfaring technology in millions of years, there are many thousands of sapient races in the galaxy. Sapient races show the following trends:

Some general external anatomies are commoner than others. These are described under Xenological Index.

In the following list, names with capital letters are derived from planet's names (e.g. "Terran"); names without capital letters are species names (e.g. "human"). Each entry gives the race's xenological index, DK status, semantic zone, and degrees of Earth. See the subsections following the race listing for explanations of these.

Summary Listing


When the stars threw down their spears,
     And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
     Did He who made the Lamb make thee?
– "The Tyger," William Blake

DK Status: 5 (criminal)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 2

Azwars are one-ton predators. In build they resemble big cats, only so burly as to suggest bears. The fur is blue, thick and velvety; color varies from nearly white to navy blue; coats may be uniform or counter-colored, dark above and pale below. Ears vary from short and rounded to long and pointed. The head is very blunt, with five shiny golden eyes – a big one for detail vision in front, two stereoscopic aiming eyes, with excellent dark vision, flanking it, and two monoscopic motion-detecting eyes on the sides of the head. The retractible claws are ivory and are regularly shed and replaced.

Their homeworld, Chaura, is chilly, with large ice caps and a broad equatorial belt of temperate climates. It is a moon of a warm jovian circling a bright K-class star, so azwar circadian cycles are roughly a week long, dividing into five days of occasional light naps and two days of long, deep sleeps. Azwars find human living conditions tropically warm.

Azwars live in matrilineal pack-families resembling lion prides, though there is no ruling male; azwars of both sexes stay with their birth families, but court and mate with azwars of other families, forming loose clans and tribes. The sexes are roughly equal. Terrans can distinguish the sexes: the males average 15% larger and have broader, blockier heads; the females have lips. The lips are for a better seal when they regurgitate milk for their children; males can do this too, but only in tiny quantities usually given to females in courting.

Having no hands, azwars had no material technology beyond the dens they often dug, but they had considerable biological knowledge, ecology, observational astronomy, and some math, all passed down in song and verse. Azwars regard humans as flighty, often silly, and finicky. They strike humans as grim and intense. They are the second largest nonhuman population in the Core.

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DK Status: 0 (amoral)
Semantic zone: nonlinguistic, capable of zone 0 writing
Degrees of Earth: 1

Pseudo-sapient colonial forms, bundles of one-eyed worms with a single tentacle apiece. With the tentacle, they adhere to one another and share food and thoughts. They form into bundle-like colonies, resembling "wheat-sheaves" of reddish-brown stalks, each tipped with a beady black eye. The bundle walks and manipulates with the many prehensile tails of its constituent worms and is held together with tangles of the thin, pale "connector" tentacles.

A large enough colony can think sapient-level thoughts, but they do not blend awareness or form a meta-awareness, so the sapient-level thought is, in effect, subconscious. Individual desmians are about as smart and aware as a mouse, but have less individual character.

Their natural volition is directed only toward individual and colonial survival, but they can be trained to use high tech and, in some circles, make useful servants. Training can be passed on by re-combining members of trained and untrained colonies. Trading individual members is the most intense form of natural communication desmian colonies use; otherwise, they use sign-language and, if in a hi-tech culture, writing. They are voiceless; the Terranic name comes from the Greek 'desme,' "bundle."

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"The Thing cannot be described – there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order." And so on.
The Call of Cthulhu, H. P. Lovecraft

"Handsome is as handsome does."— old saying

DK Status: 3 (normal)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 3

Humans consider Drots one of the uglier races. They resemble ground sloths with Cthulhu-like faces. They are not as big as ground sloths, being only about 200 to 300 kg., but they have the same forward-stooping bipedal gait, the same facility for switching to a quadrupedal gait, and the same stumpy tails and shaggy coats of russet, brown, or black. The hands are thick-fingered, with four wrinkly red digits; the Drot can knuckle-walk on them when quadrupedal.

The head is furless, egg-shaped, and red, with four short, thick tendrils draped over the mouth. There is no face, to human eyes; the front of the head is covered by a symmetrical pattern of intricate wrinkling, causing some humans to make unkind comparisons to a "sun-burned brain." In fact, the wrinkling conceals small eyes, infrared-sensitive pits like those of pit vipers, and sound guides for echolocation. Drots don't see the way humans do (green, blue, and violet register on them as black, for instance), but they see very well.

Drots come from a one-face world of an M-class star, Drodal, very dimly lit by human standards. They have no circadian rhythm, but sleep as they need it. They are herbivorous, browsers and fructivores. They give live birth into pouches, marsupially.

They are more remarkable for their family structure. Drots alternate generations: a male and female Drot produce asexual children. Asexual Drots parthenogenically produce male and female children. A Drot marriage – or a "full marriage," at least – is a quartet of husband, wife, and two "spouses." These typically form in stages, with a "part marriage" recruiting additional members.

Despite being ugly in human eyes, Drots are generally well-regarded, known for their patient kindness. When contacted, they had a multi-million-year-old culture with iron-age technology and, as their DK status indicates, no war and no crime worth mentioning, but instead age-long secret conspiracies for doing good ("amalo"). These benign secret networks spread out into space with the Drots, who were starborne for a considerable time before making direct contact with Terrans. This relative independence from Earth, along with their cultural accomplishments and character, earns them a lot of respect.

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An elephant's life is tedious, laborious, and slow.
I've been an elephant all my life, and I bloomin' well ought to know.
— "The Elephant," Michael Flanders

DK Status: 4 (venial)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 2

Fralthans are five-ton elephantines, with six legs, four trunks, four eyestalks, no tusks, no ears, no tail, and virtually no neck. The tough skin is white to pale gray. The feet are toeless. Each trunk ends in a floret of four fingers and is developed from an upper lip rather than a nose; the nostrils are between the bases of the trunks. The outer trunks are longer and stronger, but less dextrous, than the inner two. The eyestalks can stretch out to a meter long or pull almost into the head; each ends in a beady black eye no bigger than a crow's.

Fralthans are herbivorous. Natural browsers, they nibble and snack all day, without distinct mealtimes. They both eat and sleep standing up; any posture but standing or walking is an acrobatic feat for a Fralthan. A Fralthan bed is a shallow pit with a padded floor and optional padded walls, entered by a ramp.

Fralthan families are fraternities and sororities, all-male and all-female groups, usually but not always related. Families form networks of alliances and mating occurs along these networks. Children are brought up by both mothers and fathers; for Fralthans, the double households of many human children of divorce is the norm. The lack of ill will in the background makes a big difference.

Their homeworld of Fralth is somewhat warmer and drier than Earth. The main Fralthan culture is native to the north-polar temperate zone. It stablized at a high iron-age level half a million years ago, with advanced arts, philosophy, religion, occasional use of steam engines, and an ecologically stable agricultural system. It had mapped Fralth and had regular trade contact with the desert and south-polar cultures. These accomplishments, together with their enviable record of little crime and no war, meant Fralthans met Terrans much more nearly on equal terms than many other species did.

Fralthans strike humans as calm, meticulous, and careful, indeed "tedious, laborious, and slow," which means humans are often surprised by the sly and deadpan humor of which Fralthans are very fond. Humans strike Fralthans as rather dithering and silly – ditzy.

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DK Status: 5 (criminal)
Semantic zone: 2
Degrees of Earth: 4

Gargians resemble two-meter-long caterpillars with silvery fur. They have ten pairs of limbs, each ending in two digits, each usable as hands or feet, though they are more dextrous the closer they are to the head. The blunt head bears four round black eyes on stubby stalks, a small slit of a mouth, and a pair of nostrils hidden in the fur. The fur ripples over the whole body, in the equivalent of facial expression. Their top speed is slower than a sprinting human, but they can gallop surprisingly fast with an inchworm gait. With their many short arms, Gargians usually wrap themselves around their work

Gargians are herbivorous, with a strong preference for fruit and fleshy roots. They come from a one-face world with a K-class sun and have no circadian rhythm; they curl up and sleep in their basket-like beds whenever need and opportunity combine. Garjh has a gravity of 1.4 g, so Gargians are stronger and have faster reaction times than humans.

Gargians have two sexes and pair-bond like humans, but have periodic breeding seasons. These are based on nutrition and time since last season, rather than on time of year. Because of the nutrition aspect, Gargians have an instinctive desire to eat with their spouses.

When contacted by the yirir, the Gargians had a planet-wide culture with iron-age technology, geocentric astronomy, and over a million years' worth of written history, covering a fourth of their civilization's lifespan.

Being four degrees removed from Earth and in semantic zone 2, Gargians are very remote from Earth, culturally. Gargians have little enough awe for the yirir; they have no particular high regard for Terrans, even if they did start the current civilization. Gargians come across to Terrans as vigorous, brash, and vain (especially of their silver fur), though basically well-meaning. They never regard their semantic zone as a problem; if they can't find a translator, they often moan, hoot, and gurgle at you slow-ly and dis-tinct-ly, sure that you'll catch on. Terrans strike Gargians as perversely enigmatic and an odd combination of learned and ignorant.

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What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?— Psalm 8:4
Man is the measure of all things.— Protagoras
Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.— Blaise Pascal
Mostly harmless.— Douglas Adams

DK Status: 6 (bellicose)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 0

Included for comparison.

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Ilden & Ilden machines

They're a cleaner, better breed than we are.
— I, Robot, Isaac Asimov

DK Status: 3 (normal)
Semantic zone: 0
Degrees of Earth: 1

The inhabitants of Ildel resemble octopi in turtle shells. The shell is slightly more highly arched than an exact hemisphere and gray, gray-green, or gray-brown in color. The lower edge has flutings to accommodate various tentacles. There are four large walking tentacles about 1.5 meters long, four manipulative tentacles about 1 meter long and tipped with gecko-like adhesion fur, and four eye stalks. The skin is pale gray. The whole animal weighs about twice as much as a human.

Ildel is a low-gravity world circling a K-class star, relatively dry, with large seasonal variations. An Ilda can tolerate Earthly conditions, so long as it does not have to endure the high gravity for too long. Ilden are pair-bonding androgynes living in extended families. They had been at a high iron-age technical level, with steam engines and heliocentrism, for over a million years when contacted.

The Ilden are noted for their linguistic abilities (being semantic zone 0), the Ilden Gardeners (low-key, low-tech, but very widespread and persistent terraformers) and for the Ilden machines. These are AIs based on Ilden neurodynamics and raised in Ilden cultures. They are much more widespread than the organic Ilden and are the fourth largest population of non-Terrans in the Core. Ilden machines seldom resemble organic Ilden; instead, they are usually smooth levitating spheres or spheroids, spangled with individualized patterns of tiny lights. Since psi-tech came in, they almost always perceive by claivoyance and manipulate by telekinesis. Ilden machines, like organic Ilden, are almost always at least somewhat telepathic.

The Ilden's high Darbrin Klo status indicates that they have no need for social institutions dealing with crime or war, living in near-utopian social and spiritual conditions, and use the time and energy thus saved in secretly plotting to do each other good (called "amalo" an Ilden word that has entered general galactic culture). The Ilden machines continue this condition, and it is widely believed that the Core could not sustain itself without the salting of Ilden machines in its culture. Ilden and Ilden machines strike humans as gentle and saintly; humans strike Ilden as ... tragic.

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"I'm five times your age. What the hell do you know about what I want?"
– On Golden Pond, Ernest Thompson

DK Status: unknown
Semantic zone: 0 or 1
Degrees of Earth: -1

Ioletics are one-ton quadrupeds about the proportions of bison, but their legs are thicker, with padded elephantine feet, adapted to a high-gravity environment. Their forefeet are thick-fingered hands, padded on the knuckles; Ioletics walk on them as great apes do. Their skins are smooth and glossy, glassy-looking, dark red. Their faces look like roses – two-foot-wide roses with thick petals. Four eyes on short stalks peek out of their folds in shifting positions. The petals move in an enormous range of facial expressions.

Every Ioletic environment is well-provided with sioks. A siok polyp resembles an air-breathing sea anemone. Like anemones, they come in a wide variety of sizes, proportions, and colors, and are so slow-moving, they are effectively sessile. Unlike anemones, they do not sting. They are symbiotes of the Ioletics, providing air-born pheromones necessary to Ioletic health and mental well-being.

Ioletics are seldom on their homeworld of Iolet; it's changed a lot in the last 75 million years. (Ioletics became starfaring in gc1193.) Instead, they live in a far-flung, thinly-spread network of ships and space stations, rumored to reach all the way to Andromeda and its satellites. Their ships are excellent and they are not aloof, so we learned many technical tricks from them.

Our knowledge of them is limited by economics – they sell information, and information about themselves is very expensive. Nor is it a matter of simple quantity of money; it is more often a matter of favors. The information about the siok polyps was given in return for multistellar intervention to save a particular non-sapient species in the Larger Magellanic Cloud (transportation assisted by the Ioletics themselves) for reasons that no one has so far been able to afford knowing. Other unaffordable answers are to questions like why they have not transcended, what is transcendence all about anyway, why they haven't terraformed their homeworld to keep it comfortable for themselves, and whether or not they really have fleets in Andromeda.

Regarding the questions relating to transcendence, there is some indication that the Ioletics have deliberately forgotten the answers, or are not permitted (by whom?) to give the answers, regardless of price.

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DK Status: 7 (deranged)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 1

Baboon-headed eagles with unpleasant, orc-like societies. They weigh about 10 kg, have gray-violet feathers and no external ears, and use their talons for manipulation (not as effectively as human hands).

The jowers have alternation of generations. The sexual generation consists of hen-sized males and females, totally sub-sapient. The sapient jowers are neuters, laying eggs that hatch into the sexual generation.

Jower society is composed of extended families of a dozen or so, ruled by an alpha, generally tyrannically and often bloodily. New families form by great, flaming rows, often involving murder. Relations between families are, at best, enlightened self-interest, and often riddled with vengance and vendetta. Defections from families are to a state of hermitage rather than to a new family (unless the defector can form one of its own). All this is complicated by the fact that about 5% of the population is criminally insane – psychopathic and violent – and the whole race is prone to berserkergang.

They stalled out at bronze age until contacted by injudicious starfarers. After acquiring starflight, the jowers established a support infrastructure run by AIs, androids, desmians, and collaborating sapients (including humans). They went on to establish a widespread region of piracy and kleptocracy. They often ate executed captives. They often paid weregild by returning the bones gilded with a suitable quantity of gold. The Humanate was established by the local human population that banded together to drive the jowers out.

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DK Status: 5 (criminal)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 2

A shivanoid (four-armed humanoid) species, with pear-shaped heads, the stem of the pear curving into a camel-like muzzle. The face is further complicated by a loose, wrinkled skin like a bloodhound's, the wrinkles shifting in complicated facial expressions. The four hands are mitten-like, the upper pair being noticeably more delicate and the lower pair more powerful. They have leonine, tufted tails and two-toed feet. They have velvety buff fur, but still wear voluminous robes in assorted styles. They stand seven to eight feet high.

They are native to an F-class system and require a dash of ozone in their air mix. This makes human-settled worlds unattractive to them. Visiting Muldhals stay in conditioned quarters, if possible, and take ozone pills. They are also less tolerant of CO2 than are humans, but are more tolerant of high gravity and cold. They are omnivores; their families are harems and bachelor bands.

When contacted, they had been iron age for more than two million years. They strike humans as patient, ceremonious, a bit labrynthine. We strike them as disorganized and hectic, but cute.

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DK Status: unknown
Semantic zone: 0 or 1
Degrees of Earth: -1

They look like giant stick insects, being very thin and having four arms, six legs, and light armoring of peach pink or salmon pink with wood-grain-like patterns. They average 2.5 meters high and 3.5 meters long, and weigh considerably less than an adult human. The head is a bulb-like knob with two silvery-black shiny eyes and a parrot-like beak flanked by four jointed palps. The Sa'if equivalent of clothing is a thick coating of transparent jelly worn on the torso, with what we suppose to be jewelry and small appliances stuck in it.

Their homeworld, Ifir, is a one-face world of a K-class star. It has had cities since before Earth had coal and, since long before our Coal Age ended, has had a technical level superior to our current one. The Sai'f teleport around their own system and flit to and from neighboring systems in amazingly small and fast ships. But they do not travel beyond those bounds (though of course there are rumors) in any organized way.

Only very rare "tourists" are ever sighted, if that's what they are. These come and go without reference to our civilization's rules for travel, and often by mysterious means. They are generally accompanied by a large number of abstract shapes believed to be robots. No one has ever captured a Sai'if or its robots – at least, no one who survived or will tell.

Attempts have been made to establish diplomatic contact, but these have met with very limited success. Occasional Sa'if have spoken to us, in our own languages; none of us knows any Sa'if language. We know fewer than 50 Sa'if by individual names. They have made it clear that they do not want extensive contact with us, and have made it clear they will not tell us why. Speculation is rampant. Their origin civilization is believed to be in the range gc1120 to gc1125 (ours is civilization gc1208), but this not certain either. Nor do we know why they have not transcended. Again, speculation is rampant.

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We are small but we are many
     We are many we are small
We were here before you rose
     We will be here when you fall
— rat song from
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

DK Status: 0 (amoral)
Semantic zone: semi-linguistic
Degrees of Earth: A

Semi-sapient, monkey-like creatures with pebbly, toad-like skins and prehensile feet and tails. Their heads are pear-shaped, the neck joining at the narrow end, with a pit or hole at the other end, the base of the pear. They have no other facial features.

There are 29 species of scurch, found in 18 star systems. The home system of the scurch has not yet been discovered. Scurch clearly did not travel from there themselves; they are borderline sapient, able to make fire and some wood and stone tools, and to use language in a limited way.

The different scurch species vary in size, proportion, and coloring. Genetic analysis suggests gene-tooling, now overlaid with several million years of natural evolution. They were probably first kept as pets or servants seven to nine civilizations ago. Archeological records also mention sapient scurch species, presumably uplifted from original scurch. Scurch appear to have been uplifted in at least four of the previous seven civilizations and it would not be surprising to find they were uplifted at least once in every civilization since their introduction. For that matter, it would not be surprising to find someone has done it again, in our civilization.

Scurch live in troops, organized around a family of siblings and their children. Siblings mate with scurch from other troops, whom they meet at leks (mating ritual locations), where they dance athletically, expressing their desires. Within a troop, all share the childcare duties, and young scurch bond to their troop in general rather than to individual parents.

Scurch speak in one-word cries, nouns, adjectives, or imperative verbs. They do not string words together syntactically and cannot be trained to do so, unlike great apes, dolphins, and similar animals, even though they are at least as intelligent as these animals in other ways.

People have come to arrangements with troops of scurch, but they have not tamed or adopted individual scurch successfully. Scurch do not accept other species as substitute scurch, the way dogs or cats accept humans as substitues. Even infant scurch raised by sapients behave, in some respects, as if abandoned, and can barely be trained.

Scurch troops have managed to move from system to system, by stowing away in freighters. When they set up troops on the edges of sapient settlements, they may trade goods and services a bit, but they are even likelier to cause mischief.

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Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
— "Fire and Ice," Robert Frost

'6002.30773 (ice)
'6002.70003 (fire)
DK Status: 3 (normal) (ice)
DK Status: 7 (savage) (fire)
Semantic zone: 0
Degrees of Earth: 3

They are pale, limber, low-gravity sauroids, their bodies almost serpentine in their slenderness, their limbs unjointed and flexible. They are about the same mass as humans but stand much lower. Their heads are round, with three round, black eyes, the center one high on the forehead. The mouth is a very short, very blunt beak. The selnen are warm-blooded, oviparous, and have two sexes. Their world, Avlos, is a one-face planet, circling a K-class star. The dark side is dominated by an ice cap; the day side has a very temperate climate, for a one-face, moderated by a dense, stormy atmosphere.

Not much more can be said about the selnen as a whole, because the race is divided into two conflicting bio-engineered factions, named Fire and Ice by a reader of Robert Frost. This division is more than two million years old; for all that time, the selnen have had quantum-relativistic science and technology. They have speculated about life in the rest of the galaxy, but have had little chance to do astronomy and no chance to develop star travel, because of the War. That War, heavily based on biotechnology, has touched every part of their planet many times, so that all of it has been, in effect, terraformed over and over. The same is true of most of the Avlos system.

Ice selnen are closer to the original form of seln, marked by shiny, iridescent white skin. They come in a large variety of shapes, but the sauroid form described above is the most typical. The other forms are transgenic. One of the most well-known and important transgenic forms is the mantled form; it bears a cloak or mantle of flesh like the wings of a manta. They can fly with these wings, in the low gravity and high air pressure of Avlos, but their more important function is to contain arrays of implanted biochemical factories, artificial glands, for a great variety of purposes. A seln is not born mantled, but achieves that status. Most of the other altered forms of seln are also volunteers, among the Ice faction. The Ice has Normal DK status, with no wars or crime within their ranks and great social cohesion.

Fire selnen often have bioluminescent skin, in many colors and patterns. They come in an even greater variety of shapes, many of them not even remotely seln-like, but most of these are born to whatever shape they bear. They, too, have mantled forms. Unlike the Ice selnen, they are DK status Savage, divided into many quarreling sub-factions, each led by a transgenic elite largely composed of mantled selnen. Unfortunately for Ice, the Fire factions have always been ready to put aside their difference to keep Ice in check. They are also much less inhibited in their military uses of biotechnology for growing and metamorphosing troops and weapons.

Since the selnen have come in contact with galactic civilization and psionic technology, their War has escalated and spread to other planets that each side has tried to colonize, but the balance has remained the same. Most people recognize it is important to deal only with the Ice selnen, though one must take great care to make sure they are genuine Ice, since subterfuge is a very old art with both selnen factions. Some people find the highly pragmatic moral flexibility of the Fire selnen useful. In the short run.

Selnen strike humans as very intense, often grim, even in their humor. Humans and most other sapients strike Ice selnen as dangerously, piteously naive, while Fire selnen regard them with glee.

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Take. Eat. This is my body.
— Matthew 26:26

DK Status: 2 (paradisal)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 2

A race of large, rangy centauroids with feathery coats and foxy faces. They stand 2.5 to 3 meters high and are 3 to 4 meters long, not counting a 1.5-meter tail. The plumage is in bright blue and red, with accents of black and white and occasional dashes of purple. Sharfanar have long, sharp muzzles, six-fingered hands, and digitigrade feet, five toes on the front pair, four on the back. The tails are sinuous, like a cat's.

Sharfa is a one-face world orbiting a K-class star, so a Sharfan has no regular sleep cycle. Sharfanar are comfortable at lower temperatures and pressures than humans, but there is a good overlap of ranges. They are meat-loving omnivores, not quite carnivores. They have two sexes, but not male and female. The two sexes – sometimes "breeding strains" – are both hermaphrodite, but fertile unions can only take place between the strains, not within them. The two are distinguishable by rough or smooth plumage, especially by the ruffs and fluffy tails of the rough and the glossy sheen of the smooth. Barring genetic testing, people do not know their own sex until puberty; children are merely fluffy with down. Families are based on monogamous marriages.

When contacted, the Sharfanar had been in the late iron age for 2.5 million years. They lived in a balanced ecology, with a stable population and a blend of agriculture and hunter-gathering. They had no governments or social organizations of any kind, other than families and clans, hobby groups, and amalo networks – conspiracies to secretly do good. They had a small number of closely-related languages and a single religion – presumably the result of a long period in which to reach cultural homogeneity. They have gone on to become the dominant race of Anisel Shon; their "knights" developed from amalo societies made semi-public. They regard humans with patient concern.

Their single religion is a monotheism. There are doctrinal differences among the Sharfanar, but these are merely discussed amiably. A disconcerting feature of this religion is its form of "communion"; as soon as a certain species of food animal is slaughtered with the proper ceremony, its meat becomes the flesh of God. This is universal, not subject to varying interpretation as transubstantiation is in Christianity. The sacramental meat is called "diu" in local Terranic, and is cooked in every possible way – Godchops, Godburgers, Gottwurst, fillet de Dieu, God chowder, God stew, etc.

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DK Status: 4 (weakened)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth:

A sauroid species, about three times human mass, lean and lithe in build, with bird-like beaks of dark green, ranging from crow-like to hawk-like in shape. They have pelts in a range of patterns similar to those of domestic cats, but colored in peacock hues of iridescent violet, blue, green, and silver. Their eyes are larger clusters of simple, fixed-focus eyelets, in a variety of colors.

They are native to a G-class star system, but they are comfortable at a higher temperature and a substantially higher pressure than humans. Visiting Soouns take oxygen pills and low-altitude medicines, and bundle up. They are omnivores with matrilineal familes and no pair-bonding, but with a same-sex "ally" system reminiscent of dolphins or baboons.

When contacted, they were pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers and pastoralists, but had long-established systems of alphabetic writing. They strike humans as romantically larger-than-life; most of us strike them as dull.

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DK Status: 4 (venial)
Semantic zone: 2
Degrees of Earth: 3

A sauroid species with no forelimbs, manipulating with a pair of slender, elephant-style trunks. They are small – three to four feet tall – and look like two unequal egg-shapes of pink fluff, joined at the blunt ends. The smaller egg is fluffier and is, in fact, the tail. The larger egg is the body, with a pair of black-skinned legs and rather dog-like feet, at one end, and a black face at the other, with amber eyes and the two slender trunks tipped with three fingers each.

They are native to a one-face world circling a red dwarf, and are very intolerant of long-term ultraviolet exposure, though they can take short bursts. They also require low gravity. There are only a few human-settled worlds they find comfortable. They are pair-bonding omnivores, and this plus their basically cute looks makes them appealing to humans, whom they find visually and technically formidable, and occasionally distressing in behavior. In short, we think they're cute and they think we're intimidating.

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Good grief! Lizard men!
— Capt. Maria Lladro, Third Trans-Antares Expedition, on seeing the first probe images

Jeremy: My name is Jeremy Kang Ad'dlengoch. I've joined the forum because, even though I'm tliggo, I'm fourth-generation Earthling and know almost nothing about my background. My parents weren't interested (until now!) and my grandparents and great-grandparents have either died or taken amnesia and not surfaced yet.
Pedro: Well, your surname is Southcoast Culture.
Jeremy: Yes, but I think I have Plains Culture, too, and maybe Westcoast.
Chat.Xeno.Tliggology:[Jeremy K. Ad'dlengoch]/[Chicago, NAm, Earth]

DK Status: 4 (venial)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 1

(A.k.a. "Scorpi'ites," "lizard folk," "lizards," "snake-dogs," "tiggies," "tigs," etc.)

A roughly humanoid species, about human height but considerably thinner and very limber. The head is like that of an earless dog or wolf, though with more and sharper teeth (which are lavender), and remarkable eyes – they look like black pits; in fact, they are normal eyes, though deep-set and lacking in irises; light intake is regulated by the movement of black, lash-like hairs. The hands are four-fingered and clawed. The narrow torso is deep-chested, so that the whole animal suggests a large, lanky dog on its hind legs. The legs have dog-like pads and high hocks, increasing the resemblance. The tail, though, is long, limber, and cat-like.

Since a tliggo stands on its toes, it uses its tail to assist balance, waving and twitching it constantly, as it shifts restlessly from foot to foot. For a tliggo to stand at rigid attention is a minor feat of acrobatics.

Tliggoes are called "lizards" or "lizard folk" because of their scaly hide. The scales, though, are very fine, almost microscopic on the face, absent on the palms and soles. The scales are brilliantly colored, in patterns of blotches, spots, or stripes, varying according to the individual.

Tliggoes come from a one-face world of a K-class star, named "Scorpiana" by humans, living on a continent beneath the sub-solar point, the warmest part of the planet. They are comfortable only in tropical or desert heat and have no regular sleep cycle, as is typical of one-face natives. When contacted, they had been at a stone-age technical level for over 2.5 million years, their highest achievements being textiles, alphabetic writing, and ceramics, with sporadic agriculture. Detractors attribute this to lack of imagination or excess conservatism. Defenders maintain there are few suitable species for agriculture or easily refinable ores on Scorpiana.

Tliggoes were the first alien sapients discovered by Terrans and are now the most widespread sapients after Terrans. They are the third commonest species of sapients in the Core. Far more tliggoes live off Scorpiana than on it. There are many tliggo-dominant colony worlds, but even more tliggoes live as minority populations on human-dominant colonies.

Despite sustained efforts by both Terran and tliggo groups, most tliggoes assimilated, as far as ETs could, to Terran cultures. Xenologists, both Terran and tliggo, had to work hard to record Scorpi'ite cultures before they were over-written. There are many theories about why tliggoes assimilated so enthusiastically, several of them racist in one direction or the other, but the most widely received is that tliggoes simply have a greater taste for novelty than do humans, besides seeing all the practical advantages of high human technology. It has certainly been observed that fads, fashions, and rumors sweep through tliggo populations even faster and more frequently than through human.

Tliggoes have two sexes and lay eggs that hatch into babies already able to eat soft food. They have a wide variety of family structures, the commonest being pair-bonds and sororities/fraternities.

Tliggoes strike humans as mercurial, restless, sometimes peppery. Anti-tliggo racists call them shallow and unreliable. Humans strike tliggoes as stuffy.

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Darbrin Klo status: 6 (bellicose)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 3

A Twars is a 3-ton sauroid biped, with leathery, slate-gray skin. The head is a large, rounded-off block shape, with the eyes on the lower forward corners, almost flanking the wide, slit-like mouth. Twarzi have long, thin arms and a tendency to manipulate with their bird-like feet more than humans tend to expect.

There are four sexes of Twarzi, any two of which can produce offspring. All four are hermaphrodite and are sometimes referred to as "breeding strains." Non-Twarzi can most easily distinguish them by their secondary characteristics. The sexes are:

Children are born live and raised by their parents, who live in marriages of two, three, or four people of different sexes.

They are the ruling race of Keribor.

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"A merry race of boring gluttons.
Sing gobble, gobble, gobble,
Gobble, gobble, gobble."
– The bogies' song from
Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon

Darbrin Klo status: 4 (weakened)
Semantic zone: 1
Degrees of Earth: 1

A race of large, slug-like ETs, they have been unkindly compared to free-living digestive tracts. An adult vom may be 4 to 6 meters long and 30 to 60 cm wide, at rest. These figures then vary a great deal, because the creature is extremely flexible. It is by no means a shapeshifter, but it is very rubbery. Voms are not fast, though they are faster than you might expect. But they are very strong, and very, VERY tough. They are light brown to buff in color, warm and leathery to the touch.

They appear eyeless and handless, under most circumstances, with a very loose mouth. In fact, the "mouth" is really a muscular hood over the, um, face, and the vom can see out quite nicely. It can extend four eyestalks out of the hood for a better view. It can also extend twelve tentacles in three different sizes. For close, fine manipulation, the vom prefers to swallow small objects and manipulate them internally, leaving the hood open for light or swallowing a lamp. If the object cannot be swallowed, the vom applies its mouth and extends the fine tentacles or curls back the hood.

The vom can also exercise great control over its digestive tract. It routinely stores objects in its crop and can perform chemical manipulations in its stomachs (plural). When two voms "kiss" hood to hood, which they may do in public, many humans are shocked or amused, thinking they are mating or at least being passionate; this may be the case, but they are really "co-metabolizing." Co-metabolizing may be sex, but it covers a wide range of activities and is likelier to be sharing a meal, engaging in a chemical hobby together (such as making perfume, soap, chewing gum, or incense), or cooperating on some piece of work requiring chemical manipulation.

They have male and female sexes, and have a matrilineal/sibling family structure.

Voms are native to a one-face world of a K-class orange dwarf and so have no regular circadian rhythms. When contacted, they had had a high stone-age civilization for almost a million years, with agriculture, aquaculture, and many chemical technologies. They were contacted by the Tipota Terraformers and have remained closely associated with them since; as a result, they are the most widespread non-human race in the Core. Voms strike humans as easy-going creatures with vast and indiscriminate appetites. Humans strike voms as tricksy, fussy, prickly little things.

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Darbrin Klo Status

Star differs from star in glory. — 1 Corinthians 15:41

Sapient species vary in every respect, including their level of moral stature. The Ethical College of Darbrin Klo has developed a scale for describing this level in an approximate manner: Darbrin Klo status, or "DK status." Theoretically, DK status applies to societies, not just species or races; a large society may contain smaller ones, and these can have different status. But, in fact, DK status is most usually used to describe whole races.

Status 1 – integral, "celestial"

Very rare. Members of the society have several periods of mystical experience every day, and appear to automatically do the Right Thing without having to be told. There are no authority structures.

Status 2 – implicit authority, "paradisal"

Uncommon. Members of this society often have mystical experiences and effortlessly recognize who should be in authority in any situation, without dispute. Most people, most of the time, are involved in one or more amalo schemes – plotting to secretly do others good.

Status 3 – normal, "elven"

Called "normal" because it is normal to the host race of Darbrin Klo. Most people are occasionally involved in amalo, secret conspiracies to do good. There is no need for social structures dealing with crime or war within the society. For a literary example, consider Tolkien's elves, who are reliably moral.

Status 4 – venial, "hobbitish"

The commonest. These societies have no need of structures dealing with crime or internal war. For a literary example, consider Tolkien's hobbits, whose Shire had no army and hardly any police force or government.

Status 5 – criminal, "dwarvish"

These societies have no need of social structures dealing with internal war but need structures for dealing with crime, such as police, courts, and prisons. For a literary example, consider Tolkien's dwarves, who require governments but never appear to make war on each other (though they do on orcs).

Status 6 – bellicose, "human"

These societies have social structures dealing with crime and internal war.

Status 7 – savage, "orcish"

Uncommon. These societies have social structures dealing with the fact that some noticeable fraction of the population is criminally insane. Most members of the society are prone to berserkergang. For a literary example, consider Tolkien's orcs.

Status 8 – anarchic, "dragonish"

Very rare. These "societies" are a continual war of each against all. Special circumstances are needed to allow the transmission of basic cultural features such as language. For a literary example, consider classic western dragons, which are solitary and mutually hostile.

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Semantic Zones

"My hovercraft is full of eels."— Monty Python

Semantic zones describe a natural, cross-species taxonomy of languages. Semantic zone is a feature of neurology; all the sapients from a given biosphere are typically in the same semantic zone. For instance, all the Terran races are in semantic zone 1.

Semantic Zone 0

Sapients in semantic zone 0 can learn any language in any known semantic zone. Zone 0 sapients are rare; the best known examples are the Ilden and the Ilden robots.

Semantic Zone 1

Sapients in semantic zone 1 can learn any language of any odd-numbered zone, but not any languages of even-numbered zones. Zone 1 is the most populous zone and includes Terrans.

Semantic Zone 2

Sapients in semantic zone 2 can learn any language of any even-numbered zone, but not any languages of odd-numbered zones. Zone 2 is the second-most populous zone.

Semantic Zone 3

Sapients in semantic zone 3 can only learn langauges of zones 3 and 5.

Semantic Zone 4

Sapients in semantic zone 4 can only learn langauges of zones 4 and 6.

Semantic Zones 5, 6, 7, and 8

Sapients in these semantic zones can only learn languages in their home zone.

Semantic Zone 9 and 10

Sapients in semantic zones 9 and 10 can only learn languages from their home biosphere.

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Degrees of Earth

Hi! I'm from Earth! Ever hear of it?
— "Battle Beyond the Stars," screenplay by Anne Dyer and Johns Sayles

The number of degrees of Earth assigned to a race is the number of removes between that race and Earth when that race became starfaring. So:

     A race that was contacted by Terrans before becoming starfaring is degree 1.

     A race that was contacted by a race or races of degree 1 and no Terrans is of degree 2.

     A race that was contacted by a race or races of degree n and no one of lower degree is of degree n+1.

Degree of Earth is a rough measure of the alienness of a race. The higher the degree number, the further removed the race from immediate human influence, at least when it was becoming starfaring. (Degree of Earth does not change to 1 when a race meets Terrans later.) There are no known instances of degree higher than 5. By definition, races of Terran origin have a degree of 0. The few remaining elder races that were starfaring before we were are, by convention, given a degree of -1.

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Xenological Index

Reception – identify yourselves, please. State whether patient, visitor, or staff, and give species. If there is an emergency condition please give patient clinical details first, then the physiological classification of the others so that we can arrange suitable accommodation, life-support, and proper type and periodicity of meals.
Sector General, James White

The xenological index is a compact way of describing beings. It is designed cheifly for describing sapients, but can be stretched to describe a wide variety of things.

The index describes a being in a series of binary flags, written as a hexadecimal number. Each hexadecimal place in the number generally signifies a feature. The more general, abstract features have the higher places. The hexadecimal digits get higher the more bizarre the being gets. The system is designed around a norm of an "average" animal – an individual sapient, oxygen-breathing, water-based, warm-blooded and omnivorous. The exception to the binary flags rule is also, unfortunately, the most interesting hex-digit, the fine anatomy code.

Ontological code:
+8 — Not sentient
+4 — Not sapient
+2 — Not individual
+1 — Not organic

Metabolic code:
+8 — Not carbon-based
+4 — Not water-based
+2 — Not oxygen-based
+1 — Not a gas-breather

Gross anatomical code:
+8 — Often less than 10 kg
+4 — Often more than 1 tonne
+2 — Polymorphic
+1 — Not vertebrate

Fine anatomical code:
0 — ophidian (no significant limbs)
1 — pedestrian (feet but no hands)
2 — elephasaur (prone, one manipulator, one set of legs [us. 2 to a set])
3 — elephanthrope (erect, one manipulator, one set of legs)
4 — elephantine (one manipulator, multiple sets of legs)
5 — ambipod (manipulators are also feet)
6 — sauroid (prone, one set of manpulators, one set of legs)
7 — humanoid (erect, one set of manpulators, one set of legs)
8 — centauroid (one set of manipulators, multiple sets of legs)
9 — shivasaur (prone, multiple sets of manipulators, one set of legs)
A — shivanoid (erect, multiple sets of manipulators, one set of legs)
B — shivataur (multiple sets of manipulators, multiple sets of legs)
C — avian (winged and nonmanual)
D — angeloid (winged and manual)
E — radial
F — exotic (e.g. amorphous, asymmetrical, sireniform, sessile)

Ecological code:
+8 — Obligate macrosymbiote
+4 — Not homeothermic (i.e. "cold-blooded")
+2 — Not carnivorous
+1 — Not herbivorous

Lifecycle code:
+8 — Alternation of generations
+4 — Metamorphosis
+2 — Castes
+1 — Individuals change sex

Sexuality code:
+8 — Multiple/exotic reproductive modes
+4 — Multiple breeding strains
+2 — Males & females
+1 — Androgynes or hermaphrodites

The radix point goes here.

Darbrin Klo status:
0 — Amoral, e.g. nonsapient animals
1-6 — Darbrin Klo status 1 to 6
7 — Darbrin Klo status 7 or 8
+8 for complex, exotic, or anomalous situations, e.g. multiple statuses within a race.

Semantic zone:
0-6 — Semantic zones 0 to 6
7 — Semantic zones 7 to 10
+8 for complex, exotic, or anomalous situations, e.g. non-acoustic language.

Family structure code:
+8 — Households typically include unrelated friendships
+4 — Households typically include remoter relations
+2 — Households typically include sibs
+1 — Households typically include marriages

Childcare code:
+8 — Children typically cared for by unrelated friends
+4 — Children typically cared for by remoter relations
+2 — Children typically cared for by fathers
+1 — Children typically cared for by mothers

Degrees of Earth:
0 — Terran
1-5 — Degrees of Earth 1 to 5
6 — Degrees of earth 6 and higher
7 — No degrees of Earth, uncontacted
+8 for complex, exotic, or anomalous situations

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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010