Planet Gurx: City Animals

Bwotyaxvaribba


In this scene a vehicle full of Strondovarians drives along the outside road of a city, while animals of various kinds are nearby. An Aunip cautiously stays close to the buildings, in the sky above a handful of Eklooan are flying about, and near the tops of the forest just outside the town a large Tessen feeds.

Aunip

The Aunip may look like a four-limbed animal, but it is indeed a six-limbed Lapaouger. It’s just that they are from a sub-group called Ekkpay, which walk on their two frontmost limbs and their other two have retracted into stumps. Most Ekkpay dwell in the wilderness, but Aunip have adapted to living alongside Strondo civilization so they have spread Gurx-wide. We’ll go into the other Ekkpay at a later date, but we can note here that Aunip specialize in collapsing their musculature down and squeezing through tiny cracks to seek food in Strondo buildings.

Eklooan

Flying high in this picture are some Eklooan. Eklooan are a small Glounaph species that have evolved specifically to live off the kind of garbage that would wind up in a Strondo city. The build nests similar to Earth’s birds, and specifically do it in the nooks and crannies of Strondo buildings. A lot of Strondos consider them an annoyance, but some treat them kindly and feed or even provide homes for them.

Tessen

Most Lapaouger, including Strondos, have a sort of gas bladder attached to their lungs that fills with lighter-than-air gasses to help keep their dense muscular system upright, but that particular system is most highly developed in the Tessen. These massive hot-air-balloon-style creatures float along the tops of forests and hold onto the tops of the trees, from which they will eat for hours. They are completely sightless and communicate with loud songs that can be heard far and wide. When a Tessen dies, it falls to the forest floor and provides a hearty feast for the animals and plants below. While they aren’t necessarily “city animals” they will try to keep near cities in forests because Strondos tend to treat them well and the constant traffic of Strondo vehicles can scare away predators.

Planet Gurx: The Strondovarian Nations

Ve

Although Strondovarian culture is dominated by a singular idea of what it means to be “Strondovarian Culture” there are, in fact, still different groups that divide the population among their number. These groups, called Ve, hold a place in society similar to that of national identities for humanity, but without being tied to any physical place. Instead, your membership in one of these groups is based on your ideals and traditions, so in a way it could be considered closer to a religion. That said, the word “Ve” would more literally translate to English as “community” or “team” so let’s go with those terms.

There are dozens of Ve recognized by the Knowledge Banks, but we’ll just take a look at a few, to get a sampling of what they offer.

  • Ve Tillayath: Currently the largest of the Strondo nations, Ve Tillayath is the dominant force in Strondovarian politics. Governed by a supposedly-just committee of elected elders, Ve Tillayath exerts pressure on all the other nations to keep in line.
  • Ve Marbava: An ancient culture, probably the oldest still-extant nation of Gurx, Ve Marbava doesn’t have the cultural cachet you might think their history would merit. Some of the other nations even claim they’re coasting off their former triumphs.
  • Ve Reliss: Though not as old as Ve Marbava, Ve Reliss was once much larger than now, and the populace of today revels in its former glory with lots of traditions and rituals that date back to distant history.
  • Ve Pwoora: Ve Pwoora is ruled by cultish dictatorship and prefers to keep its populace secluded from the rest of the world whenever possible, which does connect them more to individual physical territory than most other nations. It is a crime among them for the low-ranking to even access the Knowledge Bank. As such, large numbers of their people are unimportant in the eyes of the rest of the world, which means nobody cares that their rulers force them to work in the Gurxian equivalent of sweatshops and slave conditions.
  • Ve Auonaooa: One of the youngest nations, Ve Auonaooa was first formed on a colony world in a different stellar system, intending to have a society that did things differently. Over time, to become more accepted as valid by other nations, their mores have drifted more in keeping with the rest, though they still retain a reputation for being “odd”.
  • Ve Okoliok: Attempting to gain more prowess among the nations, Ve Okoliok accepts any worthy Strondo who seeks to join, and actively reaches out to notable individuals and offers them incentives to join. Many other nations consider this gauche, but if it pays off in the end, it could be worth it.
  • Ve Obiss: While largely a standard Strondo nation that follows along the accepted norms, Ve Obiss has an interesting practice that might be likened to knighthoods from medieval Earth, except their equivalent of “knights” pilot combat mechs and fight in space battles. But otherwise, it’s a standard Strondo nation.
  • Ve Gleaudaran: While the people of Ve Gleaudaran still buy into the Strondovarian ideals that wealth and worth are defined by fame and notoriety, they try to be more egalitarian about it. They work for the fame and notoriety of their nation, not for themselves. Sadly, they’re not one of the more successful nations within Strondo culture so far.

Beekeeper Review: Stinger Apini

Stinger Apini, played by Sean Bean, is a character from the film Jupiter Ascending. Without getting into the macro-level details of the movie’s sci-fi setting, I can say this much about Stinger: he’s a genetically-engineered space cop who has been demoted and posted on Earth where he lives with his daughter and keeps bees. And it does seem that he’s good at the beekeeping, a trait that may well bred into him at a genetic level. His farm not only has multiple hives, but the home is covered in still more honeycombs, apparently placed wherever the bees felt like it. From what we see, the bees have a lot of leeway on this farm.

It is definitely worth noting that the bees we see on Stinger’s farm have a certain supernatural style. They can sense royalty in a person, for example, and respond to that person’s actions, to the extent that they’ll attack bad guys to help protect the film’s main character. Stinger says, “bees are genetically designed to recognize royalty… bees aren’t like humans, they don’t question or doubt. Bees don’t lie.” But Stinger says this is true of all bees, not just his. If all this is just a fact of bees in this sci-fi world, I can’t give Stinger any credit for it.

What I can give Stinger credit for is that he’s also an excellent fighter with a long history in space battles. He even had wings up until he acted nobly (taking credit for the actions of a soldier under his command) and was punished for it. While this did result in his disgrace, and his anger over it (and his desire to protect his daughter) led to him betraying his allies, he came back around to rejoin the protagonists. He wasn’t so overcome with rage that it became a problem in the long run.

He’s definitely a skilled combatant and a decent beekeeper. Even his name, Stinger Apini, is cool and thematically appropriate. But look, I have to be honest. My own opinion of the very concept of royalty is working against Stinger in this review. The idea that being “royal” is not made-up bullshit but is, in fact, an actual quantifiable physical attribute of a person and makes them “better” than other people and that bees can recognize and defer to it… none of this gets PDR’s approval.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.