Sketches by Mike Gilbert and Lisanne Norman.
They are the felinoid species who feature predominantly in my novels. They are in the process of evolving away from four-legged locomotion and though definitely upright, prefer to hunt on all fours. They are my favorite species in the Alliance. I chose to write about felines because I asked myself “What if we met aliens who resembled animals on Earth?” Could we see past the appearance of an animal to the people beneath, or would prejudice get in the way?
Rather than just copy from one of the many feline communities on Earth, I’ve given a lot of thought to their evolution as a species. Why did they go into space; what have they to offer in an interplanetary market-place in the way of skills and trade goods; what makes them different from us? I also looked at ways for an evolved sentient species to cope with the problem that comes from having aggressive young males within a community that is matriarchal by nature.
These are reptilians six feet tall with long tails and long, mobile necks. Because they come from a heavier gravity world than the other three species, the Chemerians don’t see them as a threat to the lighter gravity worlds they inhabit. They are the mercenaries of the Alliance and are known as much for their dependability as their tendency toward heavy-handedness when policing activities within the Alliance. If it’s known the Sumaan are going to be involved in a dispute, everyone thinks twice before continuing!
The Human inhabitants of Earth’s first colony who were invaded by the Valtegans. The Keissians may well become the first Human members of the Alliance. Meanwhile, the Terrans from Earth are likely to remain junior members for some time.
The Sholan Alliance has several member species who till now have not been physically seen. Thanks to Mike Gilbert, who does such wonderful work with my maps, I have a series of sketches of them.
They are an aboreal, somewhat paranoid species. They’re small in stature with large ears and eyes. Being light gravity worlders with feet equipped for gripping branches, they need assisted locomotion when off their world. From their position of paranoia, they see the Sholans as potential rivals for the worlds they wish to exploit and colonise. In fact, when they first met three hundred years ago, a series of wars erupted between the two species. This lasted some fifty or so years. So when they met the Sumaan two hundred years ago, they hired them as mercenaries and personal bodyguards for those of their species brave enough to venture into space. They also funded the production of Sumaan craft or leased Chemerian vessels to them – at vast profit to themselves, of course – and brought them into space to counter the presence of the Sholans.
They are about four feet tall and travel in a swarm of six males. They talk in high, trilling voices as well as communicating by scents. They live at a faster rate than us so watching them move tends to give one motion sickness. They love bright, garish colours and adorn themselves with an abundance of gold jewellery. I rather like them.
A new species, glimpsed briefly in RAZOR’S EDGE, the Cabbarans are quadrupedal vegetarians with a knack for Jump navigation and Cabbaraforming, rather than terraforming, inhabited worlds with an eco problem of the nature that Jalna has. As navigators they work in septs of four with the U’Churians, to whom they become equally indentured as family. Both sides view the working relationship very seriously. They identify their Family, Rank and Profession by the colored tattoos on their bodies. The top lip is long, almost prehensile, they have forward facing eyes, pale, sandy coloured body hair with a stiff crest of dark hair running the length of the head and down the spine and across the shoulders and flanks. And they can be bribed with candy – by family members!
And of course, we have for the first time, the Valtegans. The one at the bottom is actually General Kezule, but the priest J’koshuk and the crew of M’ezozakk’s ship would have all looked like this.
Those of you who have read Dark Nadir will recognize the other two at the top.
Romas Kukalis’ excellent cover for RAZOR’S EDGE shows Kusac, Kaid and T’Chebbi disguised as black long-pelted U’Churians, and in the background you have the Sumaan.