Alien Profile: The Astrins

The following article was written by Alexander Lindholm as an entry to the Alien August competition.

Name: Astrins
Home world: Nabrindor
Population: approximately 200,000

Biology

Bipedal with a slouched humanoid figure, the Astrins stand around 5ft tall and weigh on average 9 to 12 stone. Due to damage to their home world’s ozone layer, most live underground in huge structures that were first built as shelters against foreign invasion. Living underground, the Astrins are exposed to very small amounts of light (the poor are not permitted to see light and as a result are normally blind).

Their bodies are covered in thin layers of a white fur like material. Underneath the fur their skin is white. The Astrins have four eyes stacked in twos with the largest at the top and smallest at the bottom. Closely bellow their eyes is a koala-like flat nose, which is usually black (like their eyes) or a variant hue of grey or brown. Their mouths are very hard to see, as they are usually small and the lips are indistinct from the rest of their faces, and are similar to that of a human mouth. Being omnivores, Astrins have smaller pointed teeth to the front, and larger molar teeth at the back. Their tongues are relatively normal, albeit smaller than humans.

From the back of their heads, to the smalls of their backs, runs a ridge (almost a fin) that is used to detect chemical changes in water, as well as temperature.

Being most similar to amphibians, although not surviving long underwater, they are usually slimy and have webbed feet and hands. It is necessary for them to remain in shallow pools (for the poorer) or live with sprinkler systems (for the richer).

Unusually there are three genders. One acts as a male, fertilising an egg inside the female. The third acts as a surrogate. Gender type dubbed ‘surro’. The surros are then impregnated by the females and carry the child until birth. The surro evolved out of females and are a lot more suitable to give birth as they have more flexible pelvises and a higher resistance to pain. They have all but died off as they have been replaced by IVF (in vitro fertilisation). Due to government decree, all children must be born under strict control to regulate population. Only the upper classes are allowed to breed more than twice.

Society

The Astrins are governed by a small oppressive regime, consisting of around 200 members. They are usually a lot richer and very corrupt, using genetically enhanced Astrin soldiers to keep the ‘middle wealth’ in check. They do not deal regularly with the poor, as most lower class Astrins are blind due to generations without light. The rich are considered those with the most offspring, water and food. There is a complete lack of money and services are exchanged for goods. The government allocates jobs to the poor (work is mandatory) whereas there is a little more freedom for the richer. Most lower class jobs include some form of waste disposal, cleaning or a form of farming. The upper class jobs include product selling and other secondary jobs. Tertiary jobs are almost non-existent, as the services are provided by the government.

Criminals are usually exiled to the ‘scorch zone’. This is the area above ground, where very little lives. There the criminals suffer from terrible burns from the sunlight that comes more concentrated through the holes in the ozone. Most survive 3 days before a gruesome death.

Technology

Televisions and radios exist, though they are no longer produced. Though the quality is terrible and there is only six channels, all government broadcasts and all are some form of propaganda. Most technology information regarding weaponry is undisclosed. But at an estimate the weapon technology level is considered more powerful if not equal to that of human weaponry. Any form of firearm is forbidden to the populous. Only soldiers carry lethal weaponry, however military service has only been limited to internal security as there has been no wars for over 200 years.

Recent history

(Note that the year 1 began exactly 1 year after the Astrins retreated underground due to the destruction of the ozone layer. All records of before year 1 have been lost.)
1 – First year of isolated living
59 – Last contact with civilisations above ground
64 – Fighting begins known as ‘The Riot wars’
72 – The government finally exiles remaining insurgents
99 – Economy collapses
125 – Production of luxury goods ends
194 – Rich separated from poor
233 – Government attempts to establish a colony above ground
241 – Colony lost
250 – Expansion of living areas
270 – Population almost too much for the living space
273 – Government regulation of offspring begins
290 – Current year

Language

The only legal language to be spoken or written is called Ditriic. It is most similar to Arabic in its vocabulary but there are a lot of words that do not resemble anything human. The alphabet is also constructed and bears a resemblance to runes.
Basic pronouns and conjugation is as follows
Sa- I
Ye- you
Ha, Ho and De- he, she and it
Wi- inclusive we (if you are unclear with why I am using two words for We, google search ‘clusivity’)
Win-exclusive we
Para is a plural you
Det- they and refers to both masc and fem

Now the conjugation for the present tense (indicative)
Sa -ay
Ye -as
Ha -at
Wi -asom
Win -amus
Para -asat
Det –and
The verbs all end in either al,ol or ul

Here are some proto verbs: Natol- to have
And the other essential verb is: aral- to be

To conjugate, one must remove the last two letters and add the appropriate ending
For example:
S’aray
Y’aras
H’arat
And so on.
These are the same as I am, you are and she/he/it is. Now you may have noticed to you cannot have two vowels next to eachother and instead of being Sa aray (I am) it just simply becomes s’aray.

(There’s more to the language, but I ran out of word count)


This article was written by Alexander Lindholm as an entry to the Alien August competition 2015.

  • I like this one! It sounds like a hellish society, and I feel really sorry for the poor Astrin peasants who’ve been living as refugee slaves for so long!

    • Alexander Lindholm

      Thanks:)

      • Paulo R. Mendes

        A little question: what kind of jobs the blind poor have in Astrin society?

        • Alexander Lindholm

          Most of them just opt for medical experiments and are used to test if the surface world is safe for living. The ones that can echolocate usually take up jobs like cooking and farming animals. There is very little they can do.

          • Kirov

            Interesting. They haven’t had a lot of time to evolve since going underground, so did echolocation exist beforehand, or was it some sort of artificial enhancement as an attempt to make the blind useful? With such a small population, it wouldn’t behoove them to keep around useless members of society. And do they rely heavily on automation for survival? Generally, the poor would normally do all the labour, which is what makes the rich rich. If the poor aren’t doing anything, how can the rich survive while still taking up jobs as merchants?

            • Alexander Lindholm

              The government did in the beginning to fit the poor with implants to assist with echolocation, as many were blinded beforehand when the ozone was all but destroyed, but as time went on they ran out of resources and couldn’t fit all with the implants. This is why only a few use it and they tried passing on the skill the best they could to their children. As no money is used anymore (mainly withheld by the government) they have to rely heavily on goods in exchange for services. The middle class try to use the poor to provide cattle, which they then seize (leaving a little for the poor) and sell to the government in exchange for services like security (mainly) and distribution of clean water, as well as the use of the more luxurious sprinkler systems (to stay alive). The poor then attempt to sell what little they have to the government in exchange for the less luxurious mud and water pools. The government withheld the knowledge of preparing meals and use the cattle to provide the poor and middle class with edible food in exchange for maintenance jobs (from the middle class [like building]) whereas the poor usually ‘donate’ a family member to be experimented on (and the family receive food). The government usually have to hire cooks (which are paid in the few tasty beverages remaining and vegetables [a commodity]) but when the jobs are over they usually exile these cooks to the surface. There is still automated machinery, but due to minimal electricity and energy, they are usually faulty.

            • Would it not be easier to use the existing nerves and basic visual processing capability of their brains to create “bionic eyes” instead of creating a completely new and “unnatural” sense that needs to be learned?
              Would be faster and a lot cheaper too…

            • Alexander Lindholm

              Their technology isn’t the most efficient

            • How do you pass an implant to your kids?

            • Alexander Lindholm

              I meant they try to teach their children how to echolocate without implants

            • I really like your creative approach but this society needs some re writing work.
              No worries, I wrote myself into the proverbial corner more than once and I am certainly no million copy selling author to pass judgement.
              But a certain logic flow is missing and keeps one stumbling while reading the details on the Astrins.
              1 – their ability to echo locate comes from an implant..That is an artificial ability not one developed over many generations. A bat is not learning to echolocate but does it from the start. A baby sees as soon as it opens its eyes and can hear right from the start. These are abilities not traits.
              While the parents could teach their kids how to use the implants, there is no possible way to teach “seeing”, “feeling”, “hearing” or in this case echo locating.
              2 Echo locating requires TWO components. Sending the acoustic signal and receiving it. That means there is significant surgery involved *adopt the ears and voice”.
              3 even very severe limited doctors and scientists would first try to fix the existing equipment -eyes- before coming up with something so complicated and completely different.
              4 Do you know why there is a Ozone layer and what it does ?

              It is not a poisonous effect btw. Radiation exposure is increased. If the radiation is so drastically increased to turn them blind they are dead a few hours later of radiation *Cooked in a cosmic Microwave” Lower doses of radiation affects their DNA and may cause mutation, but different in each being.
              5 Maybe using some research instead of “News paper” headlines for your dooms day scenario could yield some useful information.

              But then these are just my observations nothing more…

          • Well the rich sure need to work on their “slave keeping”. Having slaves or serfs that can’t do much somehow defeats the purpose of having serfs.

            • There’s a historical president for surfs and slaves being less capable than their masters, at least in terms of health and education.
              Clearly it’s not a perfect society, or even an efficient society, but it’s a society of climate refugees after all. I get the impression they’re just surviving the disaster, and not at all thriving.

            • Being less capable or educated or health is not the issue. The Masters here have slaves that can’t work. What society of slave keepers or Serf keepers wanted or kept slaves/ serfs that could not work?

              Also if you lose the ability to cook…..hunger will make you eat it raw and everything that can be digested…..so it seems the Ozone cathastrophy also deleted their will to work, their very basic instincts and perhaps a hundred points of IQ?

              I am not saying Alex didn’t put ion a lot of effort in it..but I see very little in terms of a logical aproach to the society and the logical progression of Cause and effect is needed to make a fictional society plausible.

          • Ah!
            The Astrins are actually catholic, and your inspiration for this species came watching “Meaning of life”
            Sorry but this is about the ___ reason.
            1- Most of them opt for Medical Experiments
            Most of 200,000 is any number over 51% right?
            That means there mst be a thriving pharmaceutical industry…who conducts the experiments? Who pays for them? What is the purpose of the Experiments….oh wait I know, those who do are EVIL. The experiments are of course tourture..
            2 Testing the surface for safe living conditions.

            Even the most moronic scientist will not sent someone up every day,
            If it is done to terrorize the poor oh so down trodden peasants…then it is not for scientific reasons

            Even “EVIL” needs a reason.

        • They are hired out to CBS and NBC as test audiences to evaluate such “great shows” as : Kardashians, Dancing with the Stars and America got talent.

          • Paulo R. Mendes

            Well, that explains a lot. I take that they are also used to “test” annoying survival shows like Naked and Afraid, right?

  • Clearly a lot of thought has been put into this species. Alexander Lindholm, are you writing a book about this species?

    • Alexander Lindholm

      I wasn’t planning to, it is just an idea I have had for a while. Plus I was going to try to write something dystopian and this was just a bit of experimentation

      • Kirov

        I have to agree, it sounds like a lot of thought was put in. I like the idea of a small population which has survived a catastrophe. It would make for a good story setting and allow for some interesting story ideas.

        • Alexander Lindholm

          Thankyou:)

  • Isn’t that the description of a civilization? i know you going to call me a Nitpick, But there is very little “Alien” information and lots about history, language and so forth.
    For example, describing the physiology and appearance, the mating habits etc. of an Englishman is different then describing the English people and their history..

    I know, I know the King makes the rules and can change them anytime…and definitions mean nothing..so I just put this as a mere observation into the open and leave it at that.

    • Alexander Lindholm

      I didn’t notice that actually, but now you’ve pointed it out I guess couldn’t think of much to do with biology and physiology because I’m not versed very well in that area. And yes, it is more a civilisation description

    • It’s an alien civilization. It’s much heavier on the sociology side than the biology side, but that’s fine. Personally, I generally prefer the social stuff to the biological (of course, it’s when the two affect eachother and fit perfectly together that sci-fi gold is made).

      • Now he tells us

        “. Personally, I generally prefer the social stuff to the biological”

        🙂

        • That’s not to say that a societal focus will necessarily win over a biological focus. Like I say, I’m often surprised by what impresses and appeals to me (and while I have the final say, I’m not judging entirely alone).

    • Vanessa, I’m assuming you’re refering to me as “the King” 🙂 🙂 🙂
      The rules, boundaries, and expectations of SF are constantly in flux. What I like most about this competition is how frequently I’m surprised – often the aspects I find most interesting are things that I might usually overlook!
      Take Michael Pulleine’s telepathic transfer of genetic information, for example. I’m usually quite dismissive of telepathy in SF, but that’s one of my favourite little idea-nuggets from this month.

      • Naaa never..King well uhm it is more a pseudonym for “the Powers to be”. So in other words : Yep.
        If the Olympic committee announces a 100 meter dash and after the athletes entered the competition, it is suddenly a 200 yard walk with hurdles, a visit to the ice cream parlor and and not only runners but cars and b oats can also enter- event …it takes the decision of a fairly important person to make these changes.

        • This is where Vanessa photoshops my face onto the body of Rock Grimes 😀

          • No problem…here it is

            • OMG! That makes me even happier than I thought it would! Need to grow my beard out, but still…
              “This is not a democracy anymore!”

              I’ve had an Andrew Lincoln complex since he was in “Teachers”. Made me want to be an English teacher just so I could be as irresponsible as he was in that show 🙂
              Do you think I could pass as an American post-apocalyptic sherrif/despot? Because that’s my new aim in life 😀 😀 😀

            • Seriously, I’m buying that jacket, and I’m gonna get the SciFi Ideas logo printed on the back! Hahahah!

            • “This is not a democracy anymore!”

              I hate to tell you this line came from a writer who failed class in history and political ed.
              The US never was a DEMOCRACY *check the definition” but we are a REPUBLIC ..big difference. In a Democracy the majority rules…simple as that …A repuplic has checks and balances in place that prevent majorities rolling over minorities

            • I think he was referring to the group being a democracy, because they’d tried to reach a majority consensus before that.

            • Well everyone has to have some sort of ambition…
              Can ya say “Y’all”, know what Copenhagen really is,..you juist might have a career….And there is your “Deputy”

          • I was leaning more towards Nero or Genghis Khan, or maybe Simon….but Rock Grimes it is… 🙂