The Race (Worldwar)
|Worldwar series character|
|Classification||Extraterrestrial reptilian humanoids|
|Homeworld||Tau Ceti II|
|First appearance||Worldwar: In the Balance (1994)|
|Last appearance||Homeward Bound (2004)|
|Created by||Harry Turtledove|
The Race refers to the fictional alien invaders of Harry Turtledove's Worldwar tetralogy, Colonization trilogy and Homeward Bound. The aliens, a reptilian species with an extremely long-lived and ponderous species history, call their planet "Home", and style themselves as "The Race."
The Race's homeworld, Tau Ceti II (known to The Race simply as "Home") revolves around a class II Secchi class star. Its elliptical orbit is half as long as Earth's, and its climate is much hotter and dryer. Its oceans are very small and consequently hold few petroleum deposits. Animal inhabitants on the planet include a predator which hunts in a manner similar to the Trapdoor spider and pterosaur-like creatures.
Apparently evolved from predatory ancestors, members of the Race are physically shorter in height than humans and have numerous lizard-like traits. Their skin is brown and scaly, often decorated with body paint which becomes more elaborate in higher ranking individuals. Their eyes are segmented like a chameleon's and have nictitating membranes, an adaptation to the desert climate of their homeworld. They have bifurcated tongues and vestigial tail stumps. They have no tear ducts. Though they have a characteristic reptilian dislike of low temperatures, they are warm blooded as shown by their breath fogging in Earth's winter. Their wrist bones pivot off one bone rather than two, they have two bones in their upper arms and one in their lower arms (the opposite of humans), and their ribcages are described as resembling latticework. Though primarily carnivorous, as shown by their specialized teeth, the Race can process vegetation. They can also drink and process alcoholic beverages. They have a revulsion to eating eggs, due to the similarities to their own life cycle. Ginger has effects on the Race similar to those of cocaine on humans and also sends females into oestrus.
Members of The Race are seasonal breeders, and reproduce once a year at a specific time when females enter oestrus. There is no monogamy, and males play no part in the raising of young. Hatchlings are born with an egg tooth, and are essentially miniature versions of the adults. They do not vocalise as frequently as human children unless urged to do so, a defence mechanism against predators. Unlike human babies who crave physical contact, Race hatchlings instinctively avoid anything larger than themselves. At the age of 3 months, Race hatchlings become predatory in nature and have to be taught not to attack their own kind. Due to their considerably greater physiological development and self-reliance at birth, cases of surviving feral children are much more common in the history of The Race than in that of humans.
Due to their seasonal breeding cycle, the Race does not form nuclear family units the way humans do. Given that breeding is just a biological imperative during mating season, they also don't form bonds of romantic love between males and females, so human literature and art about romantic love strikes them as perverse. They are still quite capable of loyalty and affection, but in the Race bonds of friendship are as strong as romantic or family bonds in humans. The result of this is that generational cohorts in the Race are much more internally unified, and much more opposed to other generations, than in humans. Younger and older generations don't get along very well, because they have no parent-child bonds, but Race members of the same age group tend to get along very well. One of the greatest and most celebrated works of Race literature - which due to a cosmic coincidence is titled Gone With the Wind in their language - is about two close friends who are separated and the loss they feel.
Members of the Race speculate that the absence of large oceans on their homeworld is one of the reasons why their historical development differs so drastically from Earth's. On Earth, the presence of large oceans impeded the spread of pre-modern empires to different continents. In contrast, ancient empires on the Races homeworld were not impeded by large oceans, so they just kept gradually expanding across the planet, absorbing other smaller empires. Thus the Race's homeworld was politically unified into a single world-state very early in its history. The result is that the Race has very little experience with diplomacy between rival nations on Earth. Further, because the Race was politically unified so long ago, while they do want to conquer other planets to expand their empire, they are actually not very warlike. This is reflected in their language, in which terms for military matters tend to be fairly literal and descriptive, i.e. tanks are "landcruisers", airplanes are "killercraft", etc. Another result of this lack of large oceans is that the Race has almost no experience with naval warfare, to the point that during the conquest of Earth, they barely considered the possibility that human nations would maintain their supply lines by ocean shipping, or even that they would mount amphibious attacks. Further, the lack of large oceans meant that their homeworld has no significant petroleum deposits, making them very unfamiliar with it as a fuel source: the Race leadership only realized that petroleum refineries are a strategic war target a full six months after the invasion began.
One of the major aspects of the Race's society is that technological progress proceeds very slowly, on the scale of thousands of years. Their original unmanned probe that surveyed Earth a thousand years ago found only a medieval civilization of armored knights on horseback, but the Race was astonished that 20th century Earth had reached an industrial technology level, with radios and mechanized warfare. As the attempt to conquer Earth progressed, the Race was also horrified and confused that Earth nations could develop new tank models, from design phase to mass-production, in less than two years.
The Race speculates that the reason for this vast difference in the rate of technological development is partially historical, partially biological. Because the Race's homeworld didn't have large oceans, it was politically unified very early in its history. In contrast, Earth's large oceans encouraged its political division among rival nation-states. The result is that the Race does not possess the same history of constant, endemic warfare that Earth does. Such warfare fueled technological arms races, benefiting the human nations that were able to develop better weapons as quickly as possible. The biological aspect that the Race considers is that unlike the Race, human society is centered around nuclear families. This in turn led to political organization into clan-groups, and ultimately along territorial lines, fueling the competition between rival nations. In contrast, because the Race doesn't develop nuclear families, competition in the Race is along generational gaps between age groups, not clan groups.
The Race is governed by a 50,000 year old imperial dynasty headed by the Ssumaz family. Emperors have exclusive access to a controlled harem of females in order to keep track of the bloodline. Emperors are democratically elected, but the choices are limited to the clutch of the previous ruler. The Empire's policies are fiercely expansionist, due to connotations of manifest destiny. Conquered races have The Race's language imposed upon them and are traditionally not permitted to join The Empire's armed forces. Some private property and freedom of worship is permitted, as long as they do not conflict with The Empire's policies. In Race society, steadiness and stability count so much more than speed that invention is not encouraged. New concepts are introduced to Race society gradually over a period of centuries so as to prevent societal instability.
The Race is extremely ethnocentric, believing that it benefits conquered species to be united into their empire. Seeing it as a "White Man's Burden" of sorts, they honestly believe that their conquests "civilize" other planets, ending internal conflict, while their advanced technologies provide medicinal and economic advancement. That being said, there isn't much discrimination against conquered races (once they have been fully integrated), other than that they are not allowed to serve in the military. This extreme ethnocentrism is evident in their very name in their own language: "the Race". Humans tend to nickname them "Lizards", which they find somewhat offensive, insisting that they be referred to in-translation as "the Race" in human languages.
The Emperor is elevated to a god-like status in Race society. Members of The Race are taught at birth to lower their eyes in reverence at any evocation of the Emperor in conversation. The Emperor's birthday (known to The Race as "Hatching Day") is celebrated once every 6 months (a year for The Race). The Race afterlife consists of eternal servitude to past Emperors. Emperor worship is so deeply ingrained into Race culture that the concept of "impericide" is virtually unthinkable.
Subject worlds and races
As well as their own homeworld, The Race has two subject planets; Epsilon Eridani II and Epsilon Indi I (known as Rabotev 2 and Halless 1 to The Race). Both planets' indigenous dominant lifeforms, the Rabotevs and the Hallessi, are similar to The Race in biology as well as evolutionary pace. Little is revealed of their history before their subjugation to The Empire, other than that the Hallessi had an identical form of government, while the Rabotevs were divided among competing mini-empires. At least one of these races practiced slavery, though it is unspecified which.
While generally held to be fully integrated and equal citizens of the Empire, the Race does not allow them to serve in its military, possibly out of fear that if they did they might in future generations get ideas about self-rule. As a result, no Rabotevs or Hallessi came with the Conquest Fleet or Colonization Fleet when they were sent to Earth. The Race's military on Earth didn't try to keep this a secret, but readily spoke to humans of their subject races when asked, and even showed them pictures. The Conquest Fleet mostly spoke of them to point out how they had evolved along similar biological and cultural lines as the Race, and their differences weren't very remarkable when compared to humans.
The Rabotevs were the first species conquered by the Race, some 14,000 human years ago. Physically they are slightly taller and skinnier than the Race, making them closer to humans in height (the Race is about chest-high standing next to a human). Their overall body posture is straighter, and they hold their heads more erect on their neck than the Race, but less than a human's. Their snouts are shorter than the Race's. Their scales are colored a dark grey close to black (though not greenish-brown), and are broader and thicker than the Race's scales. Rabotevs have four digits on each hand, including two opposable thumbs (separated by two fingers) which close inward. Similarly, their feet have two large digits pointing forward, and two smaller ones pointing to the rear. Their mouths have sharp, yellow-orange teeth. Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of the Rabotevs (beyond the difference in height, coloration, and finger arrangement) is that their eyes are mounted atop short, muscular stalks, vaguely reminiscent of snails, as opposed to being in eye turrets. The stalks are constantly moving, and at times almost seem to be moving independently of each other.
The Hallessi (singular "Halless") were the second species conquered by the Race, some 5,000 human years ago. Physically they are the same height as the race, though they stand more erect. Their scales are colored bright green. Hallessi have four-digit hands with one thumb and three fingers, which are spidery and delicate. Their feet are wide and flat. Like the Rabotevs, their snouts are shorter than the Race's. Unlike the Race or the Rabotevs, the Hallessi possess external ears, which are long and pointed, and set relatively high on the head. Hallessi eyes are also set on muscular stalks like the Rabotevs. However, their eye stalks are much longer than the Rabotevs' (even more reminiscent of snails), and are fully capable of looking in different directions at the same time.
The Race, being a slow-evolving species, is more often at peace than in conquest. Turtledove wanted to reflect this in their language by their lack of specific words for all things military. The following is a list of various terms in the language of the Race and their equivalent, as well as other new concepts that the Race has had to learn:
- Big Ugly: Derogatory slang term that Race soldiers came up with for humans (known as Tosevites to the Race) after arriving on Earth, referring to the fact that humans are much taller than the Race.
- Fleetlord: Highest-ranking officer of the race, equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet combined with a Viceroy, similar to a Spanish Conquistador. One is charged with commanding the conquest fleet, and the other in charge of the colonization fleet.
- Shiplord: Captain of a ship in the Conquest fleet.
- Provincelord: Governor of a large administrative area ruled by the Race
- Home: Original home system of the Race, Tau Ceti II
- Killercraft: Fighter jet
- Landcruiser: Tank
- Troopcarrier: Armored personnel carrier
- Not-empire: Sovereign state governed by some form other than an empire ruled by an absolute hereditary monarch (before arriving on Earth, the Race had no concept of other political systems). The leaders of "not-empires" are accordingly called "not-emperors".
- Snout-counting: Democracy. The word is used derisively, as the Race had no concept of democracy and regarded nations that use "snout-counting", in particular the United States, as anarchist.
- Soldiers' time: A period of military training and conscription, when the Emperor of the Race launches a conquest on a planet. Three "soldiers' times" were declared before the Race came to Earth. The later two were during the conquest of the other systems in the Empire, while the first was during the unifying of Home.
- Spice: Ginger
- Tosev: Earth's sun. Planets are designated by number, thus:
- Tosev-3: Earth.
- Tosev-4: Mars.
- Tosevite: Human being, so named as they reside on Earth, known as Tosev 3 to the Race.
The Race also have the habit of referring to individual Earth "not-empires" in the native language of the Tosevites living there. Their peoples are rendered as simple rewordings of such. For example, Nazi Germany is "Deutschland" and its people are the "Deutsche", and in comparison, Britain remains "Britain" but the British are instead the "Britainish". The Japanese are referred to as "Nipponese", a hybrid of Japanese and English (the Japanese refer to themselves as Nihon-jin). The Race was apparently also bewildered at the fact that the people of the United States were called "Americans", apparently not knowing that the full name of the country was "United States of America."
Little is known of The Race's history before the establishment of The Empire. It is known that 75,000 years ago (Earth years, EY), The Race homeworld was fully explored by a male of The Race named Sherran, who would later become a folk hero. The Race learned how to harness nuclear energy at roughly the same period. Slavery had been abolished long before the founding of The Empire, though the exact time when this happened is never specified.
50,000 EY ago, the various Race nations unified into a single government headed by The Emperor. The Rabotevs were conquered 14,000 EY ago by Fleetlord Pssafalu, and the Hallessi 9,000 EY later by Fleetlord Hisstan. Due to their superior technology, The Race suffered few losses in their wars of conquest. Memorials on their conquered worlds show that Race casualties numbered in a few dozen on Halless 1, while on Rabotev 2, it was a few hundred.
In 1141 AD, The Empire sends probes to Earth (or Tosev 3 as it is known to the Race) and spend 800 years preparing for its conquest.
The Conquest Fleet under Fleetlord Atvar arrives in Tosev 3’s solar system on December 1941, after a 20-year (human years) journey spent in stasis. Upon receiving radio emissions emanating from the planet, it is discovered to The Race’s shock that humans have rapidly developed into an industrial society since they were last seen through the probes. The Race commences with military operations in May 1942, detonating several atomic bombs above the Earth's atmosphere in an attempt to disrupt human communications. On the night of May 30, only hours after detonating the bombs, the Race's forces attack human aircraft and ground vehicles in and around designated landing zones. Once the sites are secured, troop ships begin landing and disgorging ground forces. The Race simultaneously establishes bases on every continent except Antarctica. South America and Africa are overrun almost immediately. Landing bases in Florida, Illinois, Idaho, and New York cause widespread panic and chaos in the United States. The Race's forces establish bases in Poland, cutting Nazi Germany off from the bulk of its forces in the Soviet Union and resulting in a massive German retreat westward. The United Kingdom's air forces are battered from alien bases in Spain and France. The Soviet Union must deal with enemy strongholds in the Ukrainian SSR, Outer Mongolia, and Siberia. In the early days of the fighting, only Germany is able to battle the aliens with any measure of success because its economy has been specifically geared toward war. The Race discovers that their orbital atomic detonations had little if any effect on the human militaries because they do not yet possess silicon computer chips. The German battery manages to destroy two of the Race's ships, including the one which carries the bulk of the Conquest Fleet's atomic stockpile. The scattered plutonium is appropriated by German, Soviet and Jewish rebel forces. In an attempt to reduce human resistance, Atvar orders the use of atomic weapons on Washington DC and Berlin, compelling both nations to fight harder and to hasten production of their own atomic weapons.
The effect of the war on the psyche of the Conquest fleet soldiers is steep. Although they rapidly conquer and hold about half of Earth, they regard it as a dismal failure because the whole of Earth did not fall in days, and because there is still a war being fought at all. The Race view the war much as Americans in the real-world timeline later viewed the Vietnam War: although the Race usually have the upper hand, they are taking staggering (to them) losses due to attrition. Further, the Race have an extremely hierarchical society where authority is never questioned. However, the Race's mounting losses and inability to conquer Earth gradually lead to splits within the ranks of the Fleet officers; disgruntled frontline soldiers in Siberia mutiny against their officers (an unthinkable act in their culture), much as French army units mutinied during World War I, demanding new army leadership that would stop the high attrition they were suffering.
Impact on Humans
The effects of the Conquest could not have been foreseen by either party - least of all the Race, given their ultra-conservative culture. Within months after the start of the Conquest, three human factions (the United States of America, the German Reich, and the Soviet Union) had salvaged nuclear material and produced their own atomic bombs. German and British fighter airplanes were re-designed with jet engines and swept wings for faster flight, in an attempt to at least partially close the gap with supersonic Race killercraft. Several other inventions (mostly military, including the bazooka) and tactics were thus developed years ahead of their times in regular history.
By the 1960s (during the time of Colonization, when the Race held most of the Southern Hemisphere of Tosev 3), most cars in America ran on hydrogen. Personal computers were used by an increasing number of workers, thanks to advances in electronics from scavenged Race technology. A primitive form of the Internet was growing. Several trips had been taken aboard reusable space shuttles to space and to the Moon and Mars.
The partial occupation also had a significant effect on culture and society in general. Ginger, discovered to have a narcotic effect on the Race, is widely grown and stored by various governments. Culturally, humans try to take the occupation in stride, e.g. a song by Spike Jones, referring to Jones' song "Der Fuehrer's Face" from the real-world timeline:
- When the Fleetlord says, "The Earth is for the Race,"
- We SSS! SSS! right in the Fleetlord's face!
- When the Fleetlord says, "We rule the Earth from space,"
- We SSS! SSS! right in the Fleetlord's face!
- Turtledove, Harry (1995). Worldwar: Tilting the Balance. p. 608. ISBN 0-345-38998-0.
- Turtledove, Harry (1994). Worldwar: In the Balance. p. 576. ISBN 0-345-38852-6.
- Turtledove, Harry (1996). Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance. p. 408. ISBN 0-340-66698-6.
- Turtledove, Harry (1997). Worldwar: Striking the Balance. p. 560. ISBN 0-345-40550-1.