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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Building an alien society - Yrmaks



© Can Stock Photo Inc. / AlienCat

To coincide with the release of my latest Dryden Universe novelette, I decided this week to tell you a little about that 'verse's perpetual bad guys, the Yrmaks.

It's very easy to dream up a weird name and a sketch of an alien monster thing for a science fiction story. But if the creatures are going to work, they need to be placed in a setting, with a culture. Otherwise they're simply cardboard cut-outs.  In 'A Matter of Trust' and even in 'The Demon's Eye' the Yrmaks were the bad guys, a species given to piracy, which evidently didn't like Humans much. But when I wrote 'Eye of the Mother', I needed much, much more depth because their culture was a vital part of the plot.

So… come along and meet the Yrmaks. That's a pretty good impression of a Yrmak warrior at top left. I found him on CanStock just the other day, and he's an extremely good fit for the aliens in my head.

Yrmaks have been around in the Dryden Universe longer than Humans, because they originate from there (unlike Humans, who immigrated). They consider themselves to be superior to Humans, although they share some planets. They have scaly skin and yellow eyes, and their eye ridges go red when they are agitated. They have two hearts, one on each side of the chest. Although they have their own technology, they will steal Human ships, which tend to be better than their own, and use them for their own purposes.

The Yrmaks evolved on one planet, then spread to the stars. Their society is matriarchal and a theocracy. From their home world the Yrmaks revere a constellation which they see as the Mother (much as we can see the constellation Scorpio in our skies). As they spread among the stars, the shape of the constellation became distorted and its meaning was lost for later generations. But the more fundamental groups always come back to the Great Mother in the sky

Females are larger than males and do all the ruling. Priestesses, generals, and most merchants are female. Many more males are born every year than females. Males are either warriors, or workers. The warriors are immensely strong, and ridiculously brave to the point of being suicidal. They are not taken prisoner. Yrmaks will happily fight with each other if there are no Humans or other alien species around, often even then. Their society is very much clan-based, with each clan having its own secret language – although they share a common language for inter-clan communication.

Yrmak warriors gravitate naturally to piracy, raiding other clans and other species. On mixed worlds they will also take jobs such as bouncers, or general purpose thugs for gangsters. But not all Yrmaks are blood-thirsty brutes. Yrmak workers will take positions with merchants, and sometimes set up in less orthodox Yrmak society as merchants in their own right.

I'm sure I'll learn more about the Yrmaks as I write more stories. It's always fun imagining a completely new culture.

Oh - and while you're here, this is the new Dryden book - very much a romance. :)

Ella and the Admiral

When Admiral Goran Chandler suddenly turns up in Ella’s restaurant her comfortable world is thrown into turmoil. Ten years ago he’d been a senior commander, and captain of the frigate Antelope. She had been Lieutenant Bulich then, and he’d kicked her off his ship.

With unexpected danger threatening, and a killer stalking the corridors of the Hotel Majestic, Ella and the admiral must work together to escape with their lives before they can consider the events of ten years ago, and what they mean now.

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