|Updated on Monday and Thursday.|
|"Is it golden?" I said.
"I don't know. It is Odin's disk and it has only one side."
— J. L. Borges, The Disk.
Monday, July 26th, 2004
It seems that some people are using the word 'xenography' to mean writing something in a language you don't know, or writing about aliens, or writing by aliens, or suchlike. Most of these definitions, including mine, are supportable etymologically. Since the word hasn't hit the dictionaries yet (It's not in the OED, for instance), I'm going to keep using it to mean 'the illustration of alien life.'
One of the largest technical challenges I have set for myself is coming up with aliens which are convincingly realistic, in the sense that they appear solid and material, and could at least theoretically have evolved from whatever passes for protoplasmal goo in its section of the universe. A 'realistic' alien should appear to be of its world, and also of our world; in the sense that the alien's anatomy should not obviously violate physical law (unless it's a given that physical law works differently where the aliens live).
The challenge is harder because the central requirements are hard to balance: the aliens will appear as characters in a story written for humans, and must be accessible in some way by a human audience; thus they must share some characteristics with humans. However, if they have too much in common with humans, they will no longer be aliens; they'll just be people in funny suits.
To find a good balance point, I had to start with some basic assumptions.
To the left is how the joint might look covered in skin and muscle.
I was also intrigued by the opportunity to present what seems to be a unique sort of joint. I don't know of any skeletal joints that work on a tongue-and-groove principle; if anyone out there knows of an example, please let me know.
The design confers other advantages: the aliens can readily modify their height, more swiftly and less obtrusively than crouching - a boon in tall grass or equivalent. The small footpad is good for running fast, and the broad footpad is good when more frictive contact with the ground is required, such as pushing or dragging something.
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j. anthony, 2004
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