Friday, January 24, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#104)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)

1031. "Squidges." The "squidges" are an ambiguously canonical race that somewhat resemble grey-style aliens, though they also have some sort of skin patterns rather prominently on their heads, necks, and a few other places.

"Squidge" is possibly a degrading epithet applied to them by another race, and as with the Skrillings, is all we know to call them by. However, we don't have any indication it's what they're stuck calling themselves.

The (ambiguously canonical) story in which they appear features a pair of youths somehow finding C-3PO long after the movie era, implicitly many centuries or longer, hearing the barely functional droid tell stories of Luke Skywalker, and, after the droid and one of the youths are killed, the other finds a lightsaber in the droid's remains and claims there is still hope.

I hope that kid had some majorly awesome combat potential, because otherwise that's a real tragedy waiting to happen. (The reason most people don't use lightsabers? Because they're dangerous as heck just to hold.)

Rating: 3/5. This is mostly based on appearance.

1032. Sronk. The main known feature of the Sronk is that they use some rather idiosyncratic hand-based metaphors in their speech, such as "seeing things full-left-handed," which apparently just means seeing something personally. (Confusingly, Wookieepedia gives the example "seeing things first-hand" as a translation.)

We know little else, except that Grand Admiral Thrawn stomped all over their planet once, and thus they, like many others, were very worried by rumors of him returning in the buildup to the Caamas document crisis.

Rating: 2/5. Y'know, more science fiction writers need to consider what parts of their native languages are idiosyncratic and then break the languages down and build brand new idiosyncratic metaphors for aliens. (Even closely related languages on Earth can have very different choice for simple things-in German, you "make" a picture rather than "take" a picture.)

1033. Srrors'toks. Srrors'toks are rather ugly cat aliens.

They have short fur, usually golden/yellow or grey and black tabby-striped, and this fur doesn't provide much insulation; some also have differently-colored manes. Some develop the skill of ventriloquism, with the apparent intent of confusing enemies by making themselves sound like they're more than one individual or coming from different directions.

Also notable is that they have a big dumb rigid honor code, like way too many Star Wars aliens, which involves the life debt.

Now, I've never really talked much about the life debt, but here's the thing: It's kind of problematic, at least as far as I'm concerned. Always serving someone who saved you once forever, until one or the other dies? Man, why would anyone do that? It's in complete defiance of societal sense, and the fact that this is at least the third species I know of (the others being Gungans and Wookiees) that does something like it is painful. I can't complain as much about the one that started it, Chewbacca's life debt to Han Solo, because unlike many cases of this sort of thing, 1) Han got in a lot of trouble helping Chewbacca out and Chewbacca knew this, 2) they actually became great friends, and 3) never once did Han actually take advantage of Chewie. And Srrors'toks definitely follow those they owe life debts to regardless of how horrible their debt-holders are to them. I'm seriously inclined to think that any sensible society that followed a "life debt" honor code would at the very least not acknowledge debts to those who don't follow their own honor, because frankly that's a few metric tons of bull.

Now, there is a thing in this case that interests me: Apparently, if a Srrors'tok incurs a life debt to two different people who are sufficiently violent enemies, the Srrors'tok can cancel the older life debt, or ignore both of them. They aren't supposed to incur a second one on purpose, but if they do I imagine it's a very pleasant experience for the Srrors'tok and not so much for the former debt holder.

Rating: 3/5. Mainly because of the interesting detail on how the life debt thing can end.

1034. Ssamb. Ssamb are superficially spider-like creatures created by the DarkStryder, the formidable organic supercomputer thingy created by the Kathol, to guard itself against intrusion. I say "superficially spider-like" because they have six legs, no proper heads or segments, vertebrate jaws (which essentially just emerge directly from their bodies), and little stinger-like tails of some sort, and other than their legs, don't even vaguely look like arthropods. About fifteen hundred of them are known to guard the DarkStryder, and because it created them apparently from scratch, it seems dubious there are any more of them than that.

Rating: 3/5. I generally don't necessarily have anything wrong with aliens that don't resemble arthropods except superficially, but I wish people would choose their descriptions of such more carefully than they do.

1035. Ssi-ruuk. The Ssi-ruuk (singular Ssi-ruu, possessive Ssi-ruuvi) are among the most xenophobic, racist, and generally nasty species in the entirety of the Star Wars galaxy (I'd have to do a careful tally to be sure, but out of the ones I can remember offhand, they're probably in the top five and definitely the top ten), coming from the Unknown Regions, a peripheral area that has never been under the dominion of the larger galactic society. (Other prominent inhabitants of the area are the Killiks, who moved there after their seeming extinction in the central parts of the galaxy, and the Chiss.) They have a strict caste system built entirely around scale color, with intermarriage forbidden and the brown-scaled results of mating between different castes often put to death out of hand. They also kept the P'w'ecks, probably a Ssi-ruuk subspecies, as slaves, and are happy to enslave anyone else they meet.

And we're not talking the kind of slave that has at least some hope of humane treatment, either, because one of the reasons they like slaves so much is because they created a form of technology based around a process they call entechment. The crux of entechment is that it sucks the Force-based lifeforce out of a living creature and infuses it into a droid, providing the droid with a long-term power source and also enslaving the victim's mind as the droid's intelligence. (It was also shown that an enteched intelligence could be permitted to act under its own volition, and there was a Ssi-ruuvi ally who had willingly been enteched for the sake of immortality.) Enteched beings provide a ridiculous amount of energy, and so the Ssi-ruuk used enteched slaves to power their starfighters, tiny autonomous droids that required only two souls to compete with the power sources of the rest of the galaxy (I'll point out that an X-Wing has been calculated to have power output on the scale of the entire North American power grid).

It gets better. While traditionally the Ssi-ruuk used their P'w'eck slaves to power things, they discovered that humans provided even better power sources, ones that might well never run out (P'w'ecks only actually last for months, apparently), and were eager to invade the galaxy at large to harvest the entire civilization. They even discovered the connection between the Force and entechment (they are among the species that lack Force sensitives) and figured out how to use a powerful Jedi to entech people remotely.

You might be wondering, with all of this horrific stuff, just how anyone could stand against them. The answer is simple: They're dirty cowards.

Specifically, Ssi-ruuvi religion states that a Ssi-ruuvi soul can only reach the afterlife if the Ssi-ruu dies on a consecrated homeworld. (The consecration can apparently only come once they've taken a place over, although the ceremony takes only an hour.) This is very important to the Ssi-ruuk, who believe they're in for a good afterlife and that failing to reach it means an eternity of loneliness, and so they work really hard not to die off their homeworlds and use very conservative, defensive tactics. Their cowardice thus takes the teeth out of any serious attempts by the Ssi-ruuk to expand out of their home territory, and compared to many other self-important races, they're not very successful.

Hm, I've gotten this far and haven't even mentioned that the Ssi-ruuk are usually depicted as large (about seven to eight hundred pounds) carnivorous dinosaurs, who have tongue-like smelling feelers in their noses and speak in a musical, whistling language.

The Ssi-ruuk invaded the periphery of the wider Galactic society after the Emperor found out about them and suggested an alliance; their incursion came roughly simultaneously with the events of Return of the Jedi. Their attack was driven back by a Rebel task force that intercepted a message that had been intended for the Emperor, and the Ssi-ruuk sat on their duffs for a while after that.

Then there was a Keeramak, a messianic figure, born among the Ssi-ruuk, and they believed it was time to conquer the galaxy. They started a plot involving faking an uprising by the P'w'ecks and brown-scaled Ssi-ruuk, but this didn't work out for them, and the Keeramak was killed. This happened more or less simultaneously with the Yuuzhan Vong showing up and attacking the Ssi-ruuvi homeworlds, and the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium was forced to flee under military dictatorship to some other territory. As far as is known, they're still basically homeless.

Rating: 5/5. I rather like the combination of features here-strange technology, a distinctive design, and certain powerful capabilities being offset by culturally ingrained cowardice.

1036. Ssither. Ssither look rather like cobras with arms, although the face of the illustration on the page looks rather like it's a very different animal than an actual cobra.

They're quite large, able to rear up to a height comparable to a human's while still having quite a bit of their length on the ground to use as support, and are apparently collectively telepathic, though also capable of speech.

Their culture was quite primitive, but then they were enslaved by somebody or another. Then their star exploded, but fortunately for them immediately beforehand there was a group of Rebels in the area and they rescued as many as they could, dropping them off on another planet somewhere.

Rating: 4/5. They're pretty cool-looking.

1037. Ssty. Ssty are apparently furry, have little claws that they use as fingers, and have a reputation as cheaters.

Rating: 1/5. Eh.

1038. Stacchati. Apparently, the appearance of their eyes were the basis for a certain kind of droid's eyes. Considering what the droids in question look like, Stacchati probably look kind of... derpy.

Rating: 1/5.

1039. Stassians. They presumably exist.

Rating: 1/5.

1040. Stellan. The Stellan apparently lead a peaceful life, and do so by getting rid of anyone that they regard as a potential problem at an early age, putting them in spacecraft and setting them adrift in space.

What nice people.

This means that most Stellan in the wider galaxy were originally brought there by the slavers and pirates who snatch these people up, since the Stellan society doesn't do anything to protect these people.

Rating: 3/5. They're awful but plausible, and I could totally buy this being a thing that happens.

-Signing off.

1 comment:

liminalD said...

The Ssi-Ruuk sound really awesome as a species, but the fact that they're dinosaurs is a bit funny. Really well thought out though, with that whole consecration thing, so yeah - cool :)

The Ssither sound just like Dregs the Naga from that old cartoon, Conan the Adventurer.

And the Stellans - well, that actually sounds like the basis for some really great storytelling.

These posts are great :)