Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#98)

971. Shaliz'Na. The Shaliz'Na are ambiguously canonical winged space Native Americans.

Where have I heard that before?

Rating: 1/5. Yeah, I'm not feeling especially charitable to that. Somewhat offensive and unoriginal? No.

972. Shards. Shards are living, sapient crystals that are usually a foot or so long. Their electromagnetic senses made it easy to essentially connect them to droids as brains, and while they're normally borderline hive-minded because their electromagnetic senses work a lot like telepathy, being put into bodies makes them into extremely curious and independent explorer types.

Also, they can be Force sensitive, and some droid-wearing individuals became Jedi.

Rating: 5/5. They can be Jedi who look like droids.

973. Sharu. The Sharu existed a really, really long time ago. Around 1,000,000 years before the movies, they disappeared. Left behind were a group of seemingly broken people called the Toka, a huge bunch of impervious gigantic pyramids dotting the various planets of their worlds (so huge that later arrivals in their home system would often build their buildings in the crevices between them), and bizarre "orchards" of strange trees that grow "life crystals."

These last became the system's primary export in relatively recent times; the orchards suck the life out of people-intelligence, vitality, everything that makes someone who they are-and essentially charge their "fruit," life crystals, with it. Life crystals significantly increase the lifespan and health of those who keep them as jewelry or otherwise in regular contact with themselves. Obviously, we're talking some pretty valuable merchandise.

Eventually, Lando Calrissian discovered that the Toka actually were the Sharu, and their disappearance was because they had gone into hiding disguised as something innocuous, and the "life orchards/life crystals" were tools that enacted the transformation and stored their intellects for their descendants to access.

And the pyramids hid all their real buildings, which probably wasn't very good for all the other people living on their planets when they decided it was safe to come back.

The Empire put a garrison in their system, but it never came to conflict; the New Republic would later put a large research team into place there.

I should mention that this is part of my favorite of the older Star Wars novels.

Rating: 5/5. Of course, we're left to wonder what the Sharu were hiding from, but that's part of what makes them wonderful.

974. Shashay. The Shashay, known as Space Singers because of their skills in space navigation and singing (heh), are/were very distrustful of outsiders, and so their homeworld Crystal Nest's location is a closely guarded secret, only to be found in the memories of Shashay navigators. (Not that this makes very much sense, since the Star Wars galaxy is very well explored compared to a lot of space settings.) They made tentative friendly gestures towards the Alliance, and then stuff happened that was designed to make them stop by the Empire.

They're kind of puny bird people.

Rating: 2/5. Mainly because I'm not terribly fond of secret, uncharted worlds in Star Wars when there's no indication that they're in an area where it would make sense.

975. Shatras. Shatras are reptile people who are hard to sneak up on.

They have five major ethnic groups, one who makes up 87% of the population and is the spacegoing portion of the civilization, one who makes up 10% of the population and has rejected technology because they fought a really big war, and three other groups that make up the remaining 3%.

Also, supposedly each Shatra is very loyal to every other Shatra.

Rating: 3/5. I particularly like the cultural makeup information.

976. Shaull. We don't know that much about the Shaull, except that they apparently aren't spacefarers, and also those that are seen in the wider galaxy have usually become indentured servants to have a chance to explore, such individuals generally being very adventurous and curious.

We also have a picture of one. She's kinda cute, in a mutanty sort of way.

Rating: 3/5. Simple, but I like them.

977. Shawda Ubb. Shawda Ubb are really short (from one to three feet tall) fat reptile things. Their limbs are so spindly I'm not sure they would be able to actually walk.

Fortunately for them, even though they're small and probably not very mobile, they can spit poison that can immobilize human-sized creatures for fifteen minutes.

One of them was a musician in the Special Edition version of Jabba's palace.

Rating: 3/5. Eh, fifteen minutes of paralysis is much too short for anything but a video game or whatnot, but I'm still entertained.

978. Shi'ido. At some point, I mentioned that ambiguously canonical size-changing shapeshifters were unnecessary. That is because the Shi'ido exist.

The Shi'ido are a fairly mysterious race of shapeshifters. We don't know precise limits on their shapeshifting, but presumably it's why they're so mysterious.

We do know that several Shi'ido characters had a remarkable lack of limitations on their shapeshifting prowess-Mammon Hoole, the best-known Shi'ido, could turn into a mouse-sized animal or a hundred-foot-long whale (excuse me, "Whaladon")-but that's not a reliable gauge.

You see, Mammon Hoole and another Shi'ido, Borborygmus Gog, were coworkers on a bioengineering project that involved first trying to create life from scratch. After the first stage of their experiments was declared a failure, they used Clawdite genetic material to experiment on themselves. Now, how you add something that isn't even capable of becoming something other than very humanoid and exactly the same size to something capable of much more and get something capable of even more powerful shapeshifting isn't clear, but I'm not going to argue with the sciencey powers of people who live in a civilization that can generate orders of magnitude more energy than the momentary output of a star in a space station too small to contain the amount of matter one would convert to get that energy.

At younger ages, supposedly Shi'ido can only change about as much as Clawdites, but one older than 150 is believed to be able to achieve size changes. Again, this involves Hoole and Gog, so we should probably be mildly suspicious. It's also established that Shi'ido are much more capable of sustaining their shapechanging and aren't pained by the process, and can also store objects inside their bodies without apparent difficulty. They also can use some form of telepathy to make their disguises more complete.

A Shi'ido is considered an adult at 61 and can live for 500 years.

Anyway, we don't know that much about the Shi'ido culturally, but we do know that 1) Mammon Hoole was a scientist who worked on mad science (and later quit with regret when an experiment wiped out a civilization, though it wasn't his fault) and would move on to become an anthropologist dedicated to the preservation of cultures, 2) Borborygmus Gog was another scientist who worked on mad science (said experiment wiping out a civilization was his fault) gleefully continued his evil research and even challenged Darth Vader to his face once. (Amazingly, Gog was killed not by a long-distance Force choke but by an eldritch abomination he'd created and then inadvertently taunted.)

My conclusion is that Shi'ido have a full array of alignments, and thus I approve.

Rating: 5/5. (The height of the rating is partly due to the fact that I quite like Hoole as a character, even if the books he mostly was in could be pretty darned silly [see the S'krrr].) I don't think the Star Wars galaxy really needs any other high-end shapeshifters.

Also, it is quite possible this particular article has the most 5/5 scores in the series.

979. Shi'kar. All we know about the Shi'kar is that their planet blew up and became an asteroidal cluster known as the Shi'kar Straits. We don't even know if they still exist or not.

Rating: 2/5. The odd ambiguity intrigues me a bit.

980. Shifalas. Sapient simians from Carreras Major...

Rating: 1/5. ...are failing to incite any interest.

-Signing off.

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