True, some of the machine fixing and cleaning tasks required just enough mental effort to annoy me. Others led me to ponder over the ongoing mystery of how little old ladies somehow have enough strength to break shit that a gorilla can't break. Is it just cussed persistence? Carefully concealed superstrength? I don't know.
I always assume I have more time between maintenance cycles with the old farts, assuming it takes them longer to break shit. You'd figure it's the youngsters to watch out for... but no.
So, and also the metal shop had been past due in the schedule, and that proved to be most amusing. The things you find when cleaning out the machines, for example, provide me amusement. Just the fact that you can find a solid two-inch thick block of sintered powdered metals and abrasives in some of the chop saws and band saw cowlings gives a rueful indication as to how often these machines are looked after.
I found an award plaque for Buffalo Grove High School, 1976 wedged in the bottom of the disc grinder's vacuum dust chute. Well, now I know one instance of how often...
|"Grey Alien" by Stephen Warde Anderson|
|Needs a whole lotta love|
The story behind my kraken, which is just a big giant furry octopus, goes back to my college days. A friend of mine and I were having a stoned conversation about Intelligent Life in the Universe. His three-year-old daughter threw a stuffed toy onto the couch. It was a little plush octopus, with googly eyes and a toothy shark's grin.
I said, "Here, this is what real aliens look like. But a lot bigger. They are furry octopoids, and they are Earth's closest alien neighbors, residing 500 million light years from here".
That got a laugh, but it also stuck with me. I mean, why would aliens look terrestrial, let alone look anything like us? And why reside in our galaxy, when we had a whole universe to stage a drama in? Why, even the octopus form is familiar, symmetric, with recognizable sensory organs and familiar appendages. Not really alien. Not really not of this world.
So, I had time to build up a history around this creature, and here's what emerged. Did I say history? Fantasy.
The Kraken race is perhaps a billion years older than us in terms of sapience, and life on their planet appears to have evolved faster. This may have been due to the more frequent extinction events. There are parallels to Earth's geological history. They had a space debris bombardment. They had several global glaciation events. And at least two runaway greenhouse events. It appears that whatever triggers a step forward in complexity has something to do with these catastrophes - provided things remain relatively stable afterwards. One interesting thing to note, almost all multicellular life on their world extends from one class of animals. No doubt due to a particularly rough extinction event, where their animal ancestors toughed it out in some sheltered pond or something. As such, practically every animal that existed on their world used the eight-limbed body plan. This makes us bipedal humans completely, grotesquely, disgustingly alien to them. (They considered wiping us out, but, apparently, find us all highly amusing, and so didn't. They especially love hearing stories about our "Monkey God".)
The Kraken are cannibals, or probably would be considered as such. They reproduce both sexually and asexually. There are no males or females, rather, sexual reproduction occurs with an exchanged implantation of cloned embryos, and then genetic recombination occurs in the "womb". These matings are (outside of a few aberrant religious sects) one-time only events. Family structure is "matriarchal" if you can call it that.
The asexually produced clones, clutches of them, are raised to be food. Interestingly, there is no attempt to retard sapience in the food animals, thought they are not educated. (There are pornographic and satirical stories of food animals being raised as children, but the practice has never actually occurred). Given that all animal life is superficially similar in form, I suppose the predation should come as no surprise. And given the social and family structures, it's amazing that any social coherence and cooperation occurs at all.
Oh, right, their appearance, beyond the body form. Well, they have four eyes, two forward facing binocular eyes, rather disturbingly human looking, with a sclera (white of the eye) for assisting in judging intent. They have two sideward facing eyes, and those are jet black. Two nostrils between the forward and side eyes. And a mouth that looks like a vagina dentata, if the vagina was blue, and the dentata four inch black talons. They have a row of talons on each tentacle, presumably because they were once arboreal. And their anus is well situated away from their ovipositor. And the fact ours (anuses, that is) are right next to our genitalia produces no end of jokes and nicknames for them.
Obviously, they have a sense of humor, which is arrested at about the mental and emotional human age of twelve, and the laugh consists of a snort from the nostrils, producing a thin jellied spittle.
Alright, I called all this fantasy. Why? Because of the number assumptions made. First, the fact that they are carbon based, and water mediated. They could have been sulfur-based, liquid ammonia mediated creatures, but, given the universal abundance of the elements, my choice is a safe bet. Choosing an F-type star is a little more risky. But the star tends more towards G, and so lasts a lot longer than just a few billion years, which, I suspect is not long enough for a world. The existence of a moon is a safe bet in that it keeps the axis of rotation stable, and provides some protection from asteroid bombardment. (I have to assume a large jovian world within their solar system, but given the chaotic nature of planetary orbits, perhaps not). The huge fantasy is that we humans can handle a Kraken biosphere, and vice versa. I have to assume at least an RNA world, probably a DNA world, but the same amino acids and proteins? That's probably a big leap. And I didn't even think about whether cells are eukaryotic or not. I kind of assume an intracellular symbiosis should occur before a multicellular one, but there are so many contigencies, that this does not need to follow. Did I mention that? I didn't.
Still the fact that humans and krakens are socializing suggests perhaps either a complete compatibility in disease organisms and allergens, which I find extremely unlikely, or that I failed to mention isolation or prophylactic procedures.
As to the Kraken technology, I've got to assume that there exists a plateau, where a diminishing return on innovation kicks in, otherwise, they'd probably ignore us as savages (not to say they don't view humans as savages). Apparently there exists some type of cultural and social similarities that allow for communication, but I figured that was all due to the Kraken, either by augmenting us, or handicapping themselves.
Okay, enough wanking for one essay.