Friday, January 3, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#101)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)

1001. Skakoans. Skakoans are from a planet with a high-pressure methane atmosphere. (I've noted in the past that methane atmospheres are a weird thing to actually breathe as such. It's got to do with chemistry.) Thus, they generally visit the oxygen-based worlds that most of the Star Wars media takes place on in "pressurized" suits with their own air supplies and whatnot. Of course, it's kind of hard to properly pressurize a suit with great big openings in it everywhere (which most Skakoan suits have-generally, one can see roughly sixty percent of a Skakoan's head exposed, even if all the important orifices are covered-oxygen wouldn't be kind to the skin of a creature not used to it), so that begs a few questions.

Skakoan culture is fairly well-established. They have some kind of bizarre religion centering around a few really weird things that seem to actually exist. They are widely believed to be emotionless, since their voices are mechanically altered to travel through different atmospheres and their faces are all covered, but are actually no less emotional than anybody else. They also tend to be rather xenophobic, which probably owes to the relative fragility of their protective gear. If one sees a Skakoan off the homeworld of Skako, it's probably on important business.

The Skakoans ran the Techno Union, one of the various megacorporations that led the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars, which is probably a testament to their organizational and technical skills and knowledge. At the end of the Clone Wars, the Empire persecuted the Skakoans for their role in CIS leadership, and so they retreated to Skako and resumed near-total isolationism. This isolationism would end up protecting them from the Yuuzhan Vong.

Also, apparently Skakoans can't eat solid food. One presumes they consume liquid diets.

It's worth noting that all Skakoans identified on Wookieepedia are labeled as male. I'm not sure how one would tell considering the bulk of their suits...

Rating: 3/5. While I complain about the pressure suits, I'll admit they create an interesting look, and I suppose they could be functional; it's just that I can't imagine why you'd want to have a metal plate basically stapled to your face rather than a bubble helmet.

1002. Skandits. Skandits are blue fox/raccoon/squirrel people who are less than two feet tall. If you've been reading for a while, you might guess this makes them characters from the Ewoks cartoon, among the basically thousands of teeming hostiles one must deal with living on Endor. You would be correct.

They're apparently known for being aggressive and unpleasant. It isn't known whether the Skandits are native to Endor or not, for Endor is rather a hotbed of shipwreck activity.

Rating: 1/5. Eh.

1003. Skeebo. At least one Skeebo (from the planet Skeebo) thought something smelled really bad.

Rating: 2/5. I like the name "Skeebo."

1004. Skels. Skels are inhabitants of the planet Hoth. They have largish heads and small bodies, and big piggish snouts. They also have long, shaggy white fur, as anything that lives on an entirely quasi-arctic planet should.

Behavior-wise, they're essentially sort of primitive goblin people, savagely attacking basically anything that moves.

It's not terribly surprising that Skels were created for the "Design an Alien" contest.

Interestingly (and a bit mysteriously), "skel" is also in-universe slang for a bounty/prisoner.

Rating: 3/5. This is mostly because they look kind of interesting.

1005. Skeïtos. All we seem to know about the ambiguously canonical Skeïtos is that a ship that was identifiable as one of theirs had been devoured by an ambiguously canonical quasi-living ghost ship called the Gorgorror (which I persistently mistype as "golgorror").

Rating: 2/5, because that's an amusing umlaut.

1006. Skrillings. Skrillings have remarkably distinctive noses, with what amounts to a stack of four tubes combining to service eight nostrils. (You really kind of have to look at it to get it.) These service the Skrilling sense of smell, which is apparently incredibly powerful; apparently, the deep inhalations a Skrilling performs can be heard as a whistling sound, supposedly for miles.

This strikes me as a distinct problem for a scavenging species, which the Skrillings are. Specifically, the Skrillings apparently can't properly digest anything except "well-aged" meat, preferably that which has gone to decay for a week or longer. Since acquiring meat of the right age is difficult, Skrilling society developed a complicated tradition of haggling barter to avoid open conflict. While outsiders are prone to finding this irritating, Skrillings recognize this and will take different tactics with others, making them very versatile at bargaining with any group.

Skrillings are native to a planet known only as Agriworld-2079. This planet belongs to the M'shinni, whose hegemony utterly obliterated any pre-contact culture the Skrillings might have had. In fact, "Skrilling" was originally a derogatory word meaning "bone-picker." As such, I suppose it's technically an ethnic slur and wouldn't be good to use, except it's all they have.

Since their home was forcibly transformed into a massive corporate farm, the Skrillings adapted. Many Skrillings came to work for the M'shinni hierarchies, while others left to become wandering scavenger-merchants, something like planet-hopping Jawas, with the added caveat that sometimes when they pick over battlefields for goods, they also pick over the dead for flesh. Other Skrillings became spies for the Rebel Alliance, presumably because the M'shinni supported the Empire. Some Skrillings joined a non-violent civil rights movement. There's also a famous Skrilling smuggler who worked for Jabba the Hutt (he was surreptitiously killed by a rival during the battle on Jabba's sail barge). Finally, there are several known Skrillings who became members of the Jedi Order.

Rating: 5/5. I'm... kind of surprised by how much I really like the Skrillings. They look interesting, they have an interesting backstory, and while there are a few details about them I find silly, I can deal with that. I haven't even mentioned that they're hairless, yet classified as egg-laying mammals.

1007. Skups, or Sionian Skups. According to legend, another species genetically modified the ancestors of the Skups and sold them as slaves to the Hutts. Their homeworld, Sionia, is in or near Hutt space, and I don't know if I think that makes the story more or less likely. (Why would the Hutts buy something they probably felt they already owned?) On the other hand, apparently their genetic variation from individual to individual is very high, and some are called "biomorphs," although there's no real explanation of what this might mean. (It may have to do with physiognomy, or it may not-there's only one named Skup character.)

They kind of resemble a certain sort of stretched-out cartoon people; the known example of a Skup is also always wearing a hat that covers most of his head, heightening the effect.

Skups (or at least Anky Fremp, the lone named Skup) have skin that is described as "the color of dianoga cheese." Dianogas are sewer creatures, and one of them was the creature that attacked Luke Skywalker in the Death Star trash compactor. I do not want to consider what "dianoga cheese" might entail.

Anyway, apparently Skups are known for being skilled in non-violent criminal professions, primarily thievery, but not so good at the violent ones.

However, the only known Skup is associated with Greedo, a character whose history has since been extensively rewritten, so it's ambiguous as to what's up with all that.

Rating: 3/5. Lots of interesting little details, and it's connected to Greedo's original history, which I kind of prefer to anything that anybody could come up with for the character. (Greedo should never be anything more than an angry, stupid young street tough, which is exactly his behavior pattern in A New Hope. Poking someone with a gun is popular in movies, but it's also stupid because now the other guy can reach your gun. End rant on revisionism. [Greedo's history is one of the few places where later changes bother me; I'm pretty much fine with a lot of the rest.])

1008. Sliiskiis. The Sliiskiis come from the same ambiguously canonical source as the Skeïtos, though their relation to the Gorgorror is unclear from their article (in fact, their relation to anything is unclear from their article).

Rating: 2/5, because I like the preponderance of the letter "i" in the name.

1009. Slith. The Slith were relatively unknown in the galaxy until roughly the rise of the Galactic Empire; they were rendered extinct a few decades later when the Yuuzhan Vong "purified" their homeworld, the moon Yavin 13.

As their name mildly suggests, the Slith were snake people. Like, actual big ol' snakes. Their language consisted of rubbing sounds their scales made against the ground. They preferred live prey, which they obtained with paralytic venom.

Since they lived in a harsh desert, they valued water, and especially animals called twilight lizards, whose bodies retained high proportions of the water they ate. Their societal structure was rather similar to that of lions, with a few males and many females in a sort of clan or tribe, the females doing the most hunting while the males were bossy and probably contested with rival males. While they were patriarchal, they also had an ancestor-worship religion that was dominated by female shamans.

They apparently wielded tools with their tails and mouths.

Rating: 4/5. For a bunch of dead desert snakes, they're pretty interesting. I just regret that there was never a Dark Lord of the Slith.

1010. Sljee. Sljee are among the relatively more alien aliens of Star Wars, being sort of circular mobile stump-things with probably radial symmetry, walking on many thick little legs while using a roughly equal number of tentacles to manipulate their environment. They also have a mass of six segmented antennae which are tipped in olfactory organs. They are often mistaken by the less-traveled for animals or even ambulatory plants.

While Sljee senses of touch and hearing aren't that different from a human's, Sljee are blind and rely heavily on their senses of smell. Inexperienced Sljee thus have trouble in galactic society, unable to distinguish individuals or even species at first; an experienced Sljee can pick out an individual or positively identify a familiar species from hundreds of feet away. While this is a valuable and unique skill, apparently most Sljee prefer to remain amongst their own kind.

Other than the matter of their interaction with the galaxy at large, another thing we know about the Sljee is that there's a piece of one in Gorm the Dissolver's leg. Who is Gorm the Dissolver? A disturbing weapon created by Arkanian mad science that is part droid, part various biological components, who became a bounty hunter after the war he was built for ended. He apparently has always been a mix'n'match Frankensteinian cyborg, but when pieces of him get broken, he'll just replace them with whatever he can find, sometimes specifically chosen as a sort of trophy. I don't think we want to know how a Sljee bit got there. (It's also, considering Sljee olfactory capabilities, a worrying potential trait in a bounty hunter.)

Rating: 5/5. I like the Sljee.

-Signing off.

1 comment:

liminalD said...

Some really interesting ones here - I quite liked the Skakoans from what I'd seen of them in the prequels and the Clone Wars cartoons, they're just really interesting to look at :)

The history of the Skrillings is really kinda sad, but it was a good read. The point about their name is actually quite a tear-jerker.

The Slith are kind of ingteresting from your description, and you're right - there totally needs to be a Slith Sith or something ;)

And the Sljee... there need to be more interesting, truly 'alien' aliens in SF, too many are just are just rubber forehead aliens (I'm looking at YOU, Star Trek...) Of course it's easier in comics and video games than in live-action TV shows and movies, but a bit of imagination and experimentation can do wonders...

As always, a great read, entertaining and informative. Keep 'em coming :)