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HEXANAUTS

by Chris Wayan, 2006

Lyr (home) - map - creatures - cultures - evolution - climate - geology - gazetteer - nomenclature - definitions - building Lyr - more worlds? Planetocopia!

SPECIES

Hexanauts are large six-tentacled molluscoids (up to 6 meters, tip to tip, though they typically mass no more than a human) with several thin armor plates--not a complete shell as in Earth's nautilus, but not as shapeless as our octopi, either.

No illustration is available because hexanauts have a strong objection to them; it isn't a fear that pictures steal the soul, but that drawn images are inherently misleading. They refuse to trade with species who draw pictures of them, though they don't try to enforce their beliefs on other species' depictions of non-hexanauts. A map of Lyr, a large water world with small scattered continents. The range of hexanauts is marked in yellow.

HABITAT

Hexanauts live in houses on reefs around the tropics and subtropics. The only settled, territorial sea people known! There are three broad populations, the eastern (right half of map) western (left half) and southern or Flandrian (bottom center cluster). All are believed to be still cross-fertile, though the question rarely goes beyond theoretical: hexanauts aren't great travelers.

You can't visit them, either. You just aren't equipped for it. Even if you brought a face-mask, snorkel and fins, it's too risky for Terrans to dive on Lyr. Swim, yes; dive ten feet to look at coral, asking for trouble. Below that, the partial pressure of nitrogen in your system rises to dangerous levels. You've heard of Rapture of the Deep? On Lyr, nitrogen narcosis hits most tourists only 5 meters down. (If Lyr had slightly denser air, you'd face Rapture of the Surface! Quite a few tourists already do, though for most it fades in a day or two. Bodies are ingenious.) Local air-breathers evolved in denser air, and can dive, but you've already pushed your body to its evolutionary edge by visiting Lyr at all. So unless you've been lugging a helium tank around in your pocket, hexanaut villages are off-limits for you.

BEHAVIOR

Hexanaut social organization is sophisticated, resembling the Mohawk confederacy; reef usage is decided by local meetings full of passionate debate--and consensus is required. Change, as you might imagine, is slow.

Voiceless, hexanauts use sign language; a few grasp some spoken Trade. Their worldview is complex, and difficult for non-hexanauts to grasp; their philosophers use six-valued logic! They translate something like

  1. a priori true; eternally true. (Literal translation: "rock-based")
  2. merely happening to be what it is (either true or false; you specify that petty detail with a suffix). (Literally, "coral growth")
  3. intuitively (but unprovably) likely. (The term translates literally as "livable")
  4. logically following from mis-framed premises; (their term is "star-nosed-dolphin shit")
  5. paradoxical (their term is "twitchy tentacle")
  6. ungraspable (literally, "no-suckers")
It isn't just their philosophy that's ungraspable, intricate and a bit kooky. Their technology is equally strange. While hexanauts of course lack fire, equatorial communities build parabolic dishes to concentrate solar heat and a few are experimenting with big dishes, small boilers, and steam power.

Hexanauts can't smelt metals, of course, but then how many of us can? They acquire metals in trade, offering powerful organic glues, solvents and resins, medicines, paints and dyes. Most of these chemical wares are milked from carefully bred reef creatures. They're aided in this chemical farming by their subtle sense of smell/taste, the best on the planet (even a fair-minded witweet would have to admit it).

Map of Lyr, a world-building experiment. Click a feature to go there.

Gazetteer: index of places, with descriptions. Or...

TOUR LYR! Climb volcanoes, swim seas, meet weird creatures. First: survival tips! Then, pick a region:
Ythri -- Polesotechnic Chain -- Troisleons -- Roland -- Oronesia -- Gaiila -- Flandry -- Diomedes -- Ak'hai'i -- Averorn

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