Wednesday, February 15, 2012

About those Kraken...

I've been preoccupied with maintenance tasks the past few days. They are mostly, in one form or another, time-consuming and mentally effortless enough to allow me time to daydream. And  I've been thinking about a little worldbuilding behind the alien Kraken I introduced a little while back. I was going to draw a picture of one, but I've found out that, not having drawn anything in ten years, my illustrating skills have eroded back to about the 6th grade.

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
In any case, it gave me time to build up a world around these alien creatures. It's fairly difficult to come up with a convincing alien creature, given that we have kind of a limited knowledge as to what they look like. Oh, you've got the Greys. But, that's so lame. It's just a human fetus. Not very imaginative.

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.

They are originally from a world that orbited a yellow-white F-type dwarf star. (I use the past tense because it's all gone now, the star expanded into the red giant stage, and the world a crispy critter). It was actually a double world, a binary planet, with the "moon" about three quarters the mass of their home world. Which makes their "moon" bigger than he Earth. And their world, their home world, was about 1.78 times the mass of Earth, with a similar density but slightly lower metallicity. Gravity there was about 1.5 times Earth gravity. Thus the eight legs to hold them up. 

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.


  1. Nyarlathotep . . . the crawling chaos . . . I am the last . . . I will tell the audient void. . . .

    What is a Kraken's lifespan?

    Do Kraken have souls?

    Why are Kraken meddling in human affairs?

    Dr. John Markway: Look, I know the supernatural is something that isn't supposed to happen, but it does happen.

    1. Good questions. In terms of meddling and menace, there's not much to worry, about, as, I've said, they could wipe us all out with a flick of the tentacle. I don't think they see us as worthwhile companions, but more as objects of fun. The fact that they choose not to (wipe us out) suggests they won't. Perhaps, a threat escalation or measured response is a universal condition of life... then again, there is some evidence that the ones we do interact with have chosen to lower the bar and deal with us, and may be experiencing a form of Insania Zoanthropia, reverting to more primitive behaviors.

      Unmodified Kraken (for all are now modified) live on average only 30-40 years, and nver beyond 60 years. Modified? Unknown... millions, billions of years? They seem to possess a readily accessible collective unconsciousness, which leads to...

      Do they have souls? Again, not originally, not in the unmodified state. My understanding is they subscribe to 1) all information is material, and 2) a rather Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology: consciousness is an aggregate, all aggregates are impermanent. But the idea of a indestructible, immaterial soul existing outside of space and time, or coexisting is to them an amusing notion. But with the use of technology, they do have a much longer lasting consciousness, but with an infinite warranty? I don't think so.

  2. As you know, I'm an oldschool rigint fan, and since corresponding with Nomad a few weeks ago about UFO/exobio/disinfo - I've been reading the collected recent works of Whitley Strieber.

    Strieber seems to have come around to the Vallee interpretation of these phenomena as longstanding and forbidden aspects of human experience - centered on awareness/dream/death and barriers to conscious awareness and experience of the multiverse - essentially - that when barriers to experience break down for some people due mostly to childhood trauma - that their ordinary waking state becomes permeable to experience of the multiverse that is usually outside the bounds of normal awareness.

    Of course, the tie-in I've latched onto is the murky MK-Ultra MK-Delta efforts by Nazi's and Paperclip Amerinazi's to induce multiple personality disorder and create Manchurian assassins by sexually traumatizing children.

  3. Strieber has some very interesting notions about the physical nature of the "soul", the purpose of the "soul", and Soul Technology.

    To me, the most evocative part of your essay was your time-traveling via metal shop maintenance...,

    1. Funny thing that, and not unusual. Like, when I watch the 3D design students working on their projects, I find the wood scraps they leave over and discard much more interesting than the shapes they purposely cut out.