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Some Alien Friends of Mine

I love creating aliens; especially non-humanoid, truly alien aliens. This page has pictures of the various aliens in my books, together with brief descriptions and speculative ramblings about them.


This alien critter was introduced in the Galactic Marines saga from Avon Eos. We get only an uninformative glimpse of this fellow in the second book of the Heritage trilogy, Luna Marine, where he is described as "Species 84," a representative of one of many alien civilizations recorded in a visual library or communications facility built by advanced alien colonizers beneath the Martian surface half a million years ago.

Though we don't see much of him directly, we do learn that his species, the An, were spacefarers several thousand years ago, that they left wreckage and ruins on our Moon, and that they colonized parts of our Earth between six and twelve thousand years ago, building numerous cities and enslaving -- and civilizing -- the local human populations. Eventually, they were all but exterminated by another culture known only as "the Hunters of the Dawn." The struggle destroyed the An's colony centers on Earth and on the Moon, flooded vast stretches of Mesopotamia and the Nile Delta, and left scattered bands of former slaves to begin the laborious process of building a new civilization on their own.

In creating the An, I borrowed heavily from Sumerian myth, and from the fact that both the Sumerian and Egyptian cultures appeared relatively suddenly, with a degree of sophistication, from obscure backgrounds: both credited civilization to the gods who formerly walked among humans as their creators and masters; and both have mythologies that read more like science fiction than religion.

In Luna Marine, I did considerable research into both Sumerian myth and language, using, wherever possible, actual Sumerian words and phrases. In the Sumerian mythos, both heaven and the supreme creator-deity were called "An" or, in later versions, "Anu." Their name for Earth was Ki, a word that made its way to Greece as "gi" or "geos" and on to modern English through such words as "geometry" and "geology." The Moon was called Kingu, which means something like "Defender of the Earth."

A number of gods who came to Earth from An were known as the "Annunaki," roughly translated as "Those of Heaven Who Came to Earth." The Annunaki were credited with everything from the creation of Man to the invention of agriculture, domesticated animals, religion, money, language, and writing.

In the Heritage trilogy, the An are described as pseudoreptilian, homeothermic, and vivaparous. Despite the fact that I dislike having to rely on humanoid aliens, the An are indeed humanoid ... mostly because the representations of the Annunaki in Sumerian art, of Oannes in the remarkable Sumerian story of an amphibious civilizer from Sirius related by Berossus, and of the "Neteru" or "Watchers" in Egyptian mythology, are all of human or human-like figures. The An have six digits on each hand, which is why we, today, still have base twelve and base sixty numerical systems in our time keeping, calendars, and zodiac -- all passed down to us from the Sumerians by way of ancient Babylon. They have an architectural predilection for flat-topped pyramids, which explains the interest in those structures both in Egypt (I've assumed that the tops of the Great Pyramids were added on later, in Pharaonic times) and in the ziggurats of Sumeria, as well as, possibly, the pyramids in Mesoamerica.

Their ancient starfaring culture was completely destroyed by the Hunters of the Dawn, but isolated colonies did survive, albeit as stone-age primitives. The nearest we know of so far is on the Earthlike satellite of a gas giant in the Lalande 21185 star system, only nine light years from Earth. If all goes as planned, the first book of the second Heritage trilogy will at least partly follow Earth's first expedition to that system, complete with a complement of U.S. Marines embarked on board the starship.

Twins separated at birth?

On the left, a photo of a mask of unknown origin, downloaded off the Internet.

On the right, an illo of an An, created before I saw the mask photo.

The guy who posted the photo thought it reminded him of an ancient Sumerian fish-god. Shades of the amphibious Oannes (An-ess?) of Berossus!


This charming individual is Deathgiver Aghrracht the Swift-Slayer, one of the unpleasant, militant-Darwinian aliens called Malach in the novel Bolo Brigade. The Malach -- give that "ch" sound a harsh German "ch", as in "Bach" -- are a race of intelligent carnivores from a world called Zhanaach somewhere in the star-thin reaches beyond the rim of our galaxy. The stars out there tend to be old and poor in the heavier elements; consequently, their worlds are metal-poor, and any intelligent civilizations arising there have to be extremely competitive and aggressive simply to survive.

It's a damned tough universe, out there....

The Malach have overcome their ancestral limitations through a philosophy that might best be described as "militant Darwinism." They've taken the idea of survival of the fittest and boosted it to the level of a racial religion. The Malach name for themselves is Ma'ala'acht, which translates roughly as the Race of We Who Survived.

Outwardly, the Malach somewhat resemble certain carnivorous dinosaurs from Earth's prehistory, swift, savage, bipedal predators such as Deinonychus and Velociraptor. Zhanaachan evolution has derived from six-limbed vertebrates; Malach possess two powerful walking legs equipped with large, slasher claws, and four smaller, manipulatory arms with sharp-clawed, grasping hands. They have four eyes, and their sharp-fanged mouths are rimmed by pink feeding tendrils. Their bodies are covered by tough scales, brightly colored in emerald green and scarlet. The colorful, striped pattern probably blends in well with the background flora native to Zhanaach.

Malach are pack hunters and tend to feel uncomfortable in enclosed spaces or when alone. Despite this, their military technology has developed powerful walking/flying devices called Hunters, piloted by individual Malach warriors riding inside. Malach tactics involve the deployments of large numbers of Hunters, hordes that overwhelm an opponent in the wild, sharp thrill of UrrghChaak, the Blood Chase.

The Malach are a matriarchal society. The females are quite intelligent; males are considerably smaller and relatively unintelligent, contributing nothing to Malach society except their reproductive functions. At times, sex becomes a public ceremony of union and duty in Malach culture; several males fight one another to the death, with the survivor publicly mating with a female. The female, aroused by the smell of blood, decapitates the male during the proceedings, which enables him to complete the sexual act. Later, the embryos are transferred to a brooder, an unintelligent creature closely related to the Malach. The young eventually eat their way out of the brooder; the females are welcomed into Malach society in a blood ceremony, while the males are kept segregated in a special care facility until they are old enough to breed.

Interestingly, all of the features of Malach reproduction have counterparts in various organisms found elsewhere throughout the Galaxy, including Earth. The female praying mantis bites off the male's head during copulation, which seems to eliminate any inhibitions the male was experiencing. The use of other species as living incubators is common in a number of parasitic species, notably in certain species of wasp.


For those of you who missed his presentation under "Alien of the Month" (which was, admittedly, a long time ago), here is Dahnak, a Kluj from the world of Klushtha and one of the Watchers who've been studying humans from a base hidden on Earth's moon. He has translucent, bluish skin, two hearts, and a hemoglobin-analog based on cupric sulfate. While he can manage well enough in Earth's atmosphere -- with some technological assistance -- certain alkaloid compounds, including caffeine and chocolate, are poisonous to him.

As those of you who've discussed the matter with me can attest, I have a thing about humanoid aliens. When we encounter ETI, I strongly suspect that they will not be "just like us," with only minor variation in skin color or shape of ears. In Diplomatic Act, it turns out that the Kluj are among the most humanlike in body shape and articulation of all of the myriad species of the Galactic Unity ... a fact that allows Dahnak to disguise himself as a human. Yes, he's able to pull it off. Let's just say that nanotechnology is involved....

All text and artwork copyright (c) William H. Keith
This page was last updated on 05/28/2011