Humans are apparently the dominant race in New Crobuzon, and perhaps on Bas-Lag as well. They seem to be identical to their real world counterparts in most respects, except that many have the ability to use magic.
The Remade are usually, but not always, the victims of the criminal justice system. Rather than imprisoning criminals, the city of New Crobuzon will send them to punishment factories, where "bio-thaumaturges" warp and twist their bodies in a variety of ways. Some are combined with machines, to enslave them to one particular purpose. Others have bizarre limbs or organs grafted onto their bodies, making them freaks of nature. The Remade are primarily a sad, pathetic lot. However some Remade, like the infamous Jack Half-A-Prayer, have used their remaking to their benefit, becoming vigilante heroes and styling themselves as "fReemade".
The thanati of High Cromlech are the overlords of the city, a caste of undead nobility. Mieville describes them as "liches with sewn-shut mouths, with beautiful clothes and skin like preserved leather."
The vampir are vampires, possessing great speed and strength, forked tongues, certain magical powers, and capable of living indefinitely. The vampir feed on human blood, and gain strength proportional to the amount of blood they drink, although sunlight is extremely caustic to them. In New Crobuzon, they live secretly, disguised as humans, but on Armada, they live openly under the Brucolac, ruler of one of Armada's ridings. In both these cities they are feared and respected, but in High Cromlech, where they are called the ab-dead, they form an underclass, begging humans for blood. Vampirism on Bas-Lag is caused by a bacterium, and the technical term for the "disease" is photophobic haemophagy.
Other major races (Xenians)Edit
Non-human sentient species are collectively referred to as "xenians", most likely derived from the Greek prefix xeno-, "foreign".
Humanoid cacti. The Cactacae are enormous plant people, often towering over human beings. Cactacae grow flowers in spring and usually shave off their spines where flesh rubs against flesh. Although their young grow out of the ground, they nurse them as mammals do. Cactacae have sap for blood. They sleep standing up. They are known for their strength, and are often employed as laborers and bodyguards. Cactacae bodies are fibrous, with wooden bones, making them notoriously difficult to kill or wound with normal weapons; bullets pass nigh-harmlessly through them. The Cactacae community in New Crobuzon is based around The Glasshouse, and is allowed to exist as a nominally independent community within the city. Their weapons of choice are Rivebows, oversized crossbows that fire a spinning metal disc capable of shearing off cactacae limbs - in the service of the Militia.
The garuda are nomadic humanoid birds of prey. Most hail from the Cymek desert, where they live in tribes. They are hunters with a fierce sense of individualism. They resemble winged humans with avian heads and feet; their society is completely communist, with individual possessions seen as reducing the individual's freedom. A small ghetto of garuda live in New Crobuzon, and a few are described as living near the Cacotopic Stain in Iron Council. Garudan law is based around the principle of freedom of choice; all their crimes are forms of "choice-theft", denying another being the right to choose their own fate. Choice-theft of the first degree is the taking of life, i.e., murder. Choice-theft of the second degree is rape. Their name is derived from the Garuda of Hindu mythology.
A lobster-like, aquatic race.
The khepri are a race of humanoid scarab beetles. Female khepri possess bodies very similar to those of human women, except that their skin is crimson in colour and they possess large scarab beetles in place of heads. They communicate with each other via movements of their "headlegs" and squirts of chemicals. As they are mute, some khepri communicate with humans via sign-language, although most simply use writing. The female khepri are noted artists, using a biological excretion, nicknamed "Khepri Spit" blended with "colourberries" to sculpt breathtaking works of organic art. Male khepri, on the other hand, are lobster-sized, non-sentient scarabs, without the depending humanoid body. They mate by latching onto a female's head scarab and fertilizing her. This is not pleasant for the female, but regarded as a social duty.
Two different khepri religious traditions have been mentioned thus far in the novels. The most prominent khepri faith is polytheistic, centered around a mother goddess called the Awesome Broodma (broodma being a khepri term equivalent to "mother"). Other goddesses seem to be named based on their defining traits--the Artist, the Nurse, and the trio of guardian warrior-goddesses called the Tough Sisters. The second religion described in any detail, the cult of the Insect Aspect, holds that the male khepri's pure insect nature makes them superior to females, and that females exist mainly to serve their non-sentient male counterparts.
The vodyanoi are an aquatic people. They are fat and froglike, with webbed feet and toes. They are skilled in water magics, able to fashion temporarily-solid objects out of water. Vodyanoi dock workers once held a strike by creating water walls in the river, essentially "carving" out a 10-foot (3.0 m) wide hole in the water. Ships could not pass, and thus trade and shipping was ground to a halt. Vodyanoi will often make pacts with Undines, the water spirits, in which an Undine will live on the body of a Vodyanoi, temporarily moistening the Vodyanoi's skin, in order to allow the Vodyanoi to safely live out-of-water for longer periods of time. Vodyanoi ordinarily cannot survive out of water for more than a day, and do not swim in salt water. Taken from Russian folklore.
Deities and other miscellaneous creaturesEdit
The Avanc is a nearly mythological sea creature of unfathomable size featured only in The Scar (and briefly as the name of a government aerostat in Perdido Street Station). The Avanc is so vast that a single vein on the creature's surface appears as a 20-foot (6.1 m) high ridge to observers, as well as having a heart the size of a cathedral. It was summoned by being "baited" through the use of fulmen (electricity elementals) out of a sinkhole deep enough to span dimensions (the creature is presumably native to another dimension). It was drugged and used to pull the city of Armada. The Avanc was inspired by the Welsh mythological beast, the Afanc (in Welsh, a single f is pronounced like a v in English).
The Construct Council is an artificial intelligence built from a vast number of constructs - robotic machines with unusually advanced programming - which have become sentient. This is an apparently rare random occurrence, which the Council now watches for closely, incorporating or taking control of all newly sentient constructs. The Council resides, disguised, in a junkyard in New Crobuzon, and is throughout most of its existence unknown to nearly all the biological residents of the city, including its government. However, it has several hundred non-construct followers, who worship it as a god and form a secret cult. A historical passage in Iron Council suggests that its influence was discovered and the entity was destroyed, leading the city to turn to golems as its new primary machinery.
Palgolak is the god of knowledge, who features in the novel Perdido Street Station. Palgolak is typically depicted as either a human or a Vodyanoi, sitting in a bathtub that floats mystically across the cosmos' infinite dimensions, observing and learning. It is believed that anything learned by a follower of Palgolak is also known by Palgolak himself, a quality that gives his worshipers desire for knowledge.
Large, multidimensional spider-like beings who regard life on Bas-Lag as an ongoing work of art. They use their considerable powers to interfere with events according to their individual sense of aesthetics, and seem to appear primarily before major events. Weavers speak in a disjointed, babbling flow of half-poetry, and are totally unpredictable. The Weaver who appears in Perdido Street Station has an absurd fascination for scissors, however this fascination is only the most recent in a series (it is mentioned that the Weaver was previously interested exclusively in chess sets), and can change radically without notice. Their minds, when read, seem to be in a constant state of dreaming. A Weaver also appears in Iron Council. It is unclear whether it is the same Weaver or a different one, but it advocates social and economic revolution, sparking the train strike and the eponymous union that the book centers on.
In The Scar, much of Uther Doul's power and influence comes from his previous existence as an archaeologist specializing in an apparently extinct race called the Ghosthead. They are notable for their ability to manipulate and 'mine' probability, creating incredibly powerful weapons that strike every target possible in every possible method simultaneously, buildings with unreal floor plans, and instruments capable of altering reality, all of which are apparently fueled by stripping the world of Bas-Lag of its possibilities. No description still exists, but Doul theorizes, based on his knowledge of his probabilistic "might sword," that they appeared differently based on preference or preconceived notions of the viewer. However, it is said that nothing is known with any certainty about Ghosthead physiology or appearance, saving that it was unlike that of any modern race.
They allegedly attacked Bas-Lag from a frozen world, at that point tidally locked to its parent star, that they had mined almost to destruction, and were, he thinks, beaten back by humans and other beings of similar mental characteristics. He is also convinced that the Scar itself was a byproduct of their mining, and it is implied various subtler unrealities in Bas-Lag exist as a relic of Ghosthead probability mining.
The place where the Ghosthead Empire was supposed to be centered is now known as the "Fractured Land," and is a subject of fear and rumor. The character Vermishank states in "Perdido Street Station" that its Slake Moths are likely from the Fractured Land.
Beings that embody their respective elements. They are wild and mostly untameable, although the thaumaturges called elementarii (singular elementarius) specialize in summoning and unleashing them on their enemies. There are apparently elementals for a broad array of concepts and things: Iron Council mentions, among others, elementals of history, wood and glass.
Freshwater spirits which often enter into mutually beneficial pacts with vodyanoi.
Lightning and electricity elementals that change their shape continuously, they can be found revelling in powerful electric storms. They are used in some powerful magic spells as a source of energy.
These are mentioned in a passing but never actually described.
Yags are canine or hyena-like.
Resemble man-shaped beings shaped from wind.
Salt water: SalinaeEdit
Flesh: Proasmae (singular proasm)Edit
Resembling masses of blubber, bones and wet, raw flesh, proasmae absorb the flesh of their prey, thus increasing their own mass.
Like fulmen, fegkarions change shape continuously. They are very powerful and so infrequently seen as to be legendary.
Mosquito-like beings (singular Anophelius). The females look like wretched, scrawny human women, bent in a strange way, with huge paddle-like wings with which they fly after their prey. From their mouths they can extend a hideous bony proboscis, a foot and a half long, which they stab into their prey to suck them dry. Female Anophelii are vicious, bloodthirsty and very dangerous except immediately after feeding, when they demonstrate an intelligence equal to that of the male sex. They will drain any living being of its blood (only Scabmettlers, whose blood solidifies, and Cactacae, who have no blood, are safe). The males are short, stocky men that look no different from human men, aside from their mouths. Anophelii males' mouths are jawless, instead having a sphincter that looks (by the book's description) like an anus; this is because they do not suck blood, instead feeding on the juice from flowers (an allusion to the similar behaviour of mosquitoes). Anophelii have now been confined to a single island, but once ruled much of the world in an empire called The Malarial Queendom. The threat of a resurgent Queendom is the cause of the strict quarantine around the Anophelii island. Seen only in The Scar.
While not directly described, Archons are mentioned in conjunction with Daemons and so may be assumed to be extraplanar beings, possibly equivalent to angels in Bas-Lag's universe.
A race of child-sized beetles that stand upright. Some of them live on gigantic moving tortoises called chelonae. Their architecture is constructed out of a living mortar that consists of insects.
An aquatic race who look like humans from the waist up (with the exception of protruding gills behind the ears) and rock lobsters from the waist down. They use domesticated squids to hunt. Many live in an underwater city, Salkrikaltor, which rivals New Crobuzon itself in size.
The daemons of 'hell' are a sentient species that have an Ambassador in New Crobuzon. They are known to make deals with the government of New Crobuzon. Little else is known, save that they only take those who believe that they are condemned and that Bas-Lag's hell itself is ruled by a Czar (perhaps an ironic nod to Mieville's own socialist beliefs). Also called Hellkin.
Dolphins of Bas-Lag are apparently more intelligent than their Earth counterparts. One acts as the chief of security for the city of Armada, and goes by the name of Bastard John.
A single Gessin is mentioned in Iron Council, working as a bounty hunter. Nothing is known about them save they apparently use special suits of armor.
A race of very powerful, mysterious, and sadistic fish-people (something between eels and viperfish) who appear in The Scar. Capable of survival in salt and fresh water, as well as in the air, they can communicate telepathically with a variety of aquatic species including whales and Cray. Their name comes from a creature of English nursery stories. Mieville's Grindylow bear a similarity to the Deep Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos. Grindylow use powerful shamanistic magic, the use of which can deform human users.
Sentient parasitic disembodied hands which control the mind of their host. There are two types: sinistrals, the noble caste, and dextriers, the soldier caste. Sinistrals resemble left hands and dextriers look like right hands. When possessing a body, dextriers can use a number of supernatural abilities, including flight, fire-breathing, and enhanced strength. The sinistral has the ability to lock out a dextrier's ability to control bodies, effectively rendering the dextrier useless. Dextriers and sinistrals typically pair up when engaging in scouting or combat; the sinistral has command of the pair while the dextrier performs most of the offensive actions. The most prominent Handlinger in the novels so far is MontJohn Rescue, a dextrier who acts as aide to Mayor Rudgutter, and is the de facto ambassador of the Handlingers to the government of New Crobuzon.
These creatures are likely inspired by the Germanic folktale "Hans, My Hedgehog" which features a humanoid hedgehog born to human parents and rides a giant rooster in the story. This folktale was visually depicted in the short-lived The Storyteller series produced by Jim Henson.
A non-sentient, predatory race who are caterpillars from the waist down and humanoid from the waist up. Described as savage and with massive, tooth-filled mouths, they move in an inch-worm like motion. They are primarily found in the area known as the Cacotopic Stain. Inchmen are opportunistic carnivores and may be cannibals.
An undescribed race. All that is known of them is that they have a barrel-shaped body with three legs, and possibly three arms as well (in Iron Council, a militant llorgiss is described as wielding three knives). The name seems derived from the word Lloigor, a H. P. Lovecraftian entity/deity also mentioned in Discordian mythology. Given Miéville's known admiration of Lovecraft, and his observed penchant for appropriating mythology, it is likely that a Llorgiss may physically resemble, to some degree, a Lovecraftian creature. This is evident in the surreal description of an individual Llorgiss's presumed trilateral symmetry. The earlier description somewhat resembles the Elder Things from At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft.
An aquatic race seen only in Armada. They live in Armada's Bask riding, but spend much time below the city. Menfish are said to look something like newts.
Stocky, gray-skinned human-like beings whose blood, when shed, congeals immediately into a solid protective layer. Using a special herb which delays coagulation, the Scabmettlers are able to mold the blood into elaborate armor. They also frequently imbibe this herb, as a tea, to stave off a fatal condition in which all the blood in the body coagulates at once, petrifying the unfortunate Scabmettler. They practice a unique form of martial, arena combat called mortu crutt, which emphasises pounding, hammer-like strikes, as edged weapons are nearly useless against them due to their rapid coagulation. Their unique physical ability has shaped their religion - when it is raining, they mourn that the sky is 'bleeding'. Scabmettlers have only been seen in Armada, in the riding (district) called Shaddler.
Driven almost to extinction after the railroad destroyed their indigenous swamp lands, the Stiltspear were a race of quadrupedal creatures with insect-like legs and radially symmetrical hands that can be closed into spears, with which they hunt. In Iron Council, they are described as moving untraceably in water like wading birds, with bodies like cats, covered with waterproof down. They secrete thaumaturgons from their glands, which gives them the ability to camouflage themselves in the forest. They had mystical abilities, among which the ability to create golems through somaturgy, and employ a chant-like singing that "unsticks time" in their hunting. It is the Stiltspear who teach the making of golems to Judah Low, a protagonist of Iron Council.
Also known as Borinatch, Striders are apparently related to ungulates, although their distended faces are somewhere between baboons and African masks. They are a proud, primitive people, traveling as nomads across the plains south of New Crobuzon. As they move, their multi-jointed limbs flicker in and out of other planes, an ability that also finds applications in Strider warfare.
Cavedwellers also referred to as Troglodytes, whose name is possibly inspired from the Drow of Dungeons and Dragons, another underground race (Mieville has frequently stated in interviews that he reads roleplaying books and used to game himself), or possibly derived from the Norse "trowe", or troll. The name "Trow" was also used in the Myth: The Fallen Lords game (Bungie)(and others in the same series) to describe a race of ancient, giant sized humanoids who bore a relationship to stone.
Hardly considered a race, the Wyrmen are semi-sentient flying creatures that look something like gargoyles. They are no more than a foot tall, with bright red skin and small bat wings. Wyrmen walk on their front limbs, using their hands like feet. They are pesky and annoying, and have bizarre names that seem to be picked at random from human words. They are crude, vulgar, and laugh at anything and everything. They have a limited capacity for speech and are sometimes used by other races for reconnaissance and running errands. Template:ChinaMieville
- ↑ "Hans-my-Hedgehog". Grimm Stories, The fairy-tales of the brothers Grimm. http://www.grimmstories.com/en/grimm_fairy-tales/hans_the_hedgehog. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|