The Race is reptilian, with a bone structure that differs slightly from that of humans in which their wrist bones pivot off one bone rather than two, and their ribcages resemble "latticework". Their lifespans tend to be longer than humans. Unlike Earth reptiles, they are warm blooded, having a body temperature slightly higher then that of humans, although they have very great difficulty operating in cold environments (like Northern Russia or Europe in winter), and rejected at least one possible new colony because the world was even colder than Earth.
The Race have claws on their fingers and toes capable of acting as weapons. They also have very sharp teeth and what is referred to as a "tail stump", which is probably the atrophied remains of a tail lost during evolution, (despite this most illustrations show members of the race with tails). They have no tear ducts; crying in either sadness or otherwise was completely unheard of to the Race prior to its encounters with humans. They have a revulsion to eating eggs, due to the similarities to their own life cycle. Ginger has a narcotic affect on both males and females of the Race, and as stated below, disrupts females' sexual cycles. Members of the Race can also become intoxicated from alcohol.
Members of the Race are seasonal breeders. They are sexually inactive for all but a few weeks of the year, at which point the females become fertile and emit pheromones which drive the males into a state of arousal strong enough to overcome all other priorities. Enraged males often fight over females. These fights are sometimes fatal. When females consume ginger, their hormonal cycles are disrupted and they become fertile and emit pheromones immediately.
After sex, females gestate their fertilized eggs for several weeks. After laying them in a suitable nesting spot, they abandon them. The hatchlings receive no parental care from either parent much akin to characteristics of certain species of animals on Earth. Race Hatchlings are born with an egg tooth, and are essentially miniature versions of the adults. When hatchlings emerge, they do so with their motor skills fully developed but they are highly anti-social: Race hatchlings instinctively avoid anything larger than themselves. At the age of 3 months, Race hatchlings become predatory in nature and have to be taught not to attack their own kind. Due to their considerably greater physiological development and self reliance at birth, cases of surviving feral children are much more common in the history of the Race than in that of humans.
The Race's homeworld, Tau Ceti II (known to the Race simply as "Home") revolves around a class II Secchi class star. Its elliptical orbit is half as long as Earth's, and its climate is much hotter and dryer. Its oceans are very small and consequently hold few petroleum deposits. Animal inhabitants on the planet include a predator which hunts in a manner similar to the Trapdoor spider and pterosaur-like creatures.
In Race culture and society, the Race are entirely ethnocentric. The Race holds their own language in high esteem and usually think little of human languages. They see change (including minor innovations, such as new kinds of entertainment) as something inherently bad, believing that change would inevitably destabilize Race society, and are thus extremely conservative. They are technologically advanced, but embrace technological progress only at a glacial pace. In Race research, every scientific discovery must be based on scientific fact, not "imagination" or "stories".
Race hierarchy is shown through body paint, which takes a role similar to that of badges and clothing in human society. The more complex one's body painting, the higher you are in the hierarchy.
Due to their biology, the Race has certain slang terms that while similar to human ones are also uniquely race, for instance, someone in serious trouble is going to "Regret the day he was hatched"; when threatening somebody with endless imprisonment, police would say "We will lock you up and eat the key". (See terminology below).
The Race appear to expand to gain space for themselves. Historically, the Race has sought to conquer relatively close and populated worlds. The Race's technological conservatism means that after they developed their versions of Relativity theory they did not consider the possibility that there might be ways around it. In the 2030s, for example, they were shocked to learn that humanity had discovered a way to travel faster than light, and they were forced to begin a crash program to catch up. Assuming the Race could not steal the technology, they estimated it would take at least 70 years to catch up with the humans. This will likely force seismic shifts in their culture as the Race fights to survive against the more advanced humans.
Also the Race are extremely "moral" and consider sexual intercourse with great disdain, and consider the unheard concept of love as "perverted". And because there is no biological impetus to care for one's hatchlings, and because sexual encounters are undertaken so casually when they occur and ignored for the rest of the year, the Race does not have a family structure, an alien concept to the Race. The only exception is the Emperor, who is guaranteed to be a son of his predecessor because emperors keep a personal harem whose members mate exclusively with him. However the Race colonists that arrived and lived on Earth, after being exposed to ginger which affected their sexual biology, slowly accepted the custom of marriage or "exclusive mating arrangements"; this became the basis of family units.
Despite their lack of family sentiment (which is one reason why tensions tend to run high between generations) adult members of the Race are not antisocial. Indeed, friendship is the most important relationship that the Race culture recognizes.
The Race has been ruled by the Ssumaz dynasty for more than 50,000 years. However, individuals of the Race have a great degree of personal freedom, as do their subjects, as long as they do not conflict with the Race Empire's policies. Due to distance between Home and its colonies, the Emperor's power devolves to the government of the colonies. The parts of Earth captured by the race were ruled by Atvar until the 1970s.
The Race believe in imposing their culture on planets they annex. While not actually racist in the traditional sense (of actually hating others races/species), the Race is capable of chauvinism. They apparently teach their subjects the superiority of the Race culture, and encourage their vanquished subjects to be "grateful" that the Race stopped wars and infighting (at least in the case of the Rabotev's). Also the discovery of the biology of the two discovered species, the Rabotev and the Hallessi to be so similar to the Race gave the Race reason to believe that its biology was universal, and so another justification of the conquest and annexation of other planets. However, with the discovery of Earth, the Race's ideology was proven wrong.
The Emperor is elevated to a god-like status in Race society. Members of The Race are taught at birth to lower their eyes in reverence at any evocation of the Emperor in conversation. The Emperor's birthday (known to The Race as "Hatching Day") is celebrated once every 6 months (a year for The Race). The Race afterlife consists of eternal servitude to past Emperors. Emperor worship is so deeply ingrained into Race culture that the concept of "impericide" is virtually unthinkable.
The Race on Earth view and dismisses human religions as "superstitions" based entirely on blind faith, in which many of the dogmatic humans (including Christians, Muslims, and Jews) were hastily offended by their behavior, such as in the Race's perception of God as a "giant Big Ugly" as absolutely ridiculous, and especially when the Race started taxing "superstitions" in Race-held territories. Their derisiveness of human religions result in heavy riots and discord in Race-territories, particularly in the Middle East.
- (See Emperor-worship)
Subject worlds and racesEdit
As well as their own homeworld, the Race has two subject planets; Epsilon Eridani and Epsilon Indi (known as Rabotev 2 and Halless 1 to the Race). Both planets' indigenous dominant lifeforms, the Rabotevs and the Hallessi, are similar to the Race in biology as well as evolutionary pace. Little is revealed of their history before their subjugation to the Empire, other than that the Hallessi had an identical form of government, while the Rabotevs were divided among competing mini-empires. At least one of these races practiced slavery , though it is unspecified which.
The Rabotevs and Hallessi species are allowed to have a "equal" status as the Race, such as earning an education, but are nonetheless restricted from certain roles in the Race empire. Most notably, conquered subjects are not allowed in the Race military for alleged security reasons, suggesting the possibility that the Race doesn't fully trust their alien subjects even after thousands of years as citizens of the Empire. Both species are allowed on all planets in the Empire besides Earth, possibly because the Race wished to integrate as a fully Race planet first. Presumably, the Race concedes the possibility that the two conquered species are not entirely content with the Race.
The military system of the Race is strictly hierarchical, and the overall majority of the Race military is traditionally composed of the Race species only, mostly due to ensuring the security the Race empire. However, despite having a technological power military, the Race is more a peaceful species given to the fact that only two battles were ever known to have fought in their unified history, which were the conquest of Rabotev 2 and Halless 1, and which also only happen thousands of years ago before the invasion of Earth and that only very few Race casualties were affected by their easy conquests. Furthermore, much of their knowledge of military techniques and tactics in their military history was completely forgotten, including the practice of brutal interrogation (being replaced by "truth" serums). The Race's lack of military experience leaves its military in following planetary conquest procedures according to mere manual/guide books and unrealistic virtual training-simulators in which all proves nearly useless in the conquest of Earth.
The Race, being a slow-evolving species, is more often at peace than in conquest, result in having their language in lacking of specific words for all things military. The following is a list of various terms in the language of the Race and their equivalent, as well as other new concepts that the Race has had to learn:
- Big Ugly: Derogatory slang term that Race soldiers came up with for humans (known as Tosevites to the Race) after arriving on Earth, referring to the fact that humans are much taller than the Race.
- Fleetlord: : Highest ranking officer of the race, equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet. One is charged with commanding the conquest fleet, and the other in charge of the colonization fleet.
- Home: Original home system of the Race, Tau Ceti II.
- Killercraft: Fighter jet.
- Landcruiser: Main Battle Tank.
- Troopcarrier: Armored personnel carrier.
- Not-empire: Sovereign state governed by some form other than inherited monarchy. (Before arriving on Earth, the Race had no concept of political organization except by hereditary monarchy).
- Snout-counting: Derogatory term for democracy.
- Soldiers' time: A period of military training and conscription, when the Emperor of the Race launches a conquest on a planet. Two "soldiers' times" were declared before the Race came to Earth, corresponding to the two worlds conquered by the Race prior to Earth.
- Spice: Ginger.
The Race also have the habit of referring to individual Earth "not-empires" in the native language of the "Tosevites" living there. The exception is that of Nippon (Japan), which survived as an independent empire following the war. Their peoples are rendered as simple rewordings of such. For example, Nazi
Germany is "Deutschland" and its people are the "Deutsche," and in comparison, Britain remains "Britain" (which helps English-language readers) but the British are instead the "Britainish." The Japanese are referred to as Nipponese, a hybrid of Japanese and English (the Japanese refer to themselves as Nihon-jin)
Despite interstellar travel, cryogenics, and various other technological advances (like tectonic plate manipulation) which are far beyond even our present level, some Race technology is much closer to present day Earthly technology, The Race is often considered to have military technology roughly similar to that of the 1990s. Landcruisers are tanks and killercrafts are supersonic aircraft (the latter were particularly deadly in the first day of the Race invasion). The Race's war technology did not change, even while on Earth. By the 1960s, human military technology was nearing parity on the ground, and beginning to make an impact in space. By the 2030s, the Race was badly outmatched and searching for a way to escape the disaster they found themselves in.
The Race's military technology had frozen a hundred thousand years before, when Home was politically unified and warfare ended. Subsequently the Race chose to reuse its old war machines only for conquest of other planets, and since these presented no military challenge, the Race's war technology stopped advancing. Under their unified government, the Race progressed extremely slowly, both technologically and socially. Upon invading Earth, they were amazed by humanity's rapid progress over a few hundred years. As a result, they were unprepared for the tenacity and skill that humans used in defending their respective territories -- and the quick victory they expected did not come to pass. Although the Race was able to conquer the Southern Hemisphere of Earth in the initial invasion, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Germany remained Earth's greatest free powers once they developed and deployed atomic weapons. Canada, Britain, and Japan also retained their independence, although the Race did not have full diplomatic relations with them.
The Race had previously conquered two other species, the Rabotevs and the Hallessi. These were extremely similar to the Race biologically, though ginger was not narcotic to them. The social differences between the three species were also very slight, although the two cultures in question were much more primitive than the Race when their planets were conquered.
As of the 2030s, the Race's technology had fallen behind that of humans, and with the human discovery of FTL, the Race was being forced to catch up.
Various theories have been advanced as to why the Race progresses more slowly than humanity. One is that the lack of large bodies of water on the Race's homeworld meant that all empires (before the unification of Home) were land-based, and so lacked the rapid expansion that sea-empires could create. Another theory is based on the fact that the Race does not have sexual selection, as they breed only in periodic orgies where the patriarchial line cannot be known (except for the Emperor). The Race are therefore not motivated by their sex drive, at least not in the same way humans are, and perhaps this lack of sex drive is related to their lack of innovation.
Literary Note Edit
In practice, having the Race's technology on the level described above was a necessary precondition for Turtledove's basic premise for this series - i.e. to have extraterrestrials invade Earth in 1942 and to let WWII transform into humanity's war with aliens. Assuming that this takes place in a universe indetical with ours until 1942, i.e. with no intelligent life other than mankind in the solar system, the invaders had to be in possesion of interstellar spaceships. Yet in order for the invasion to develop into war in which humanity could hold its own, rather than a one-sided swift alien conquest, the invaders' military technology had to be no more than a few decades ahead of the human one. Only such a culture as the Race's - with all technology developing very slowly, and military technology frozen altogether - could fit these basic requirements needed for the basic plot structure to work.
Little is known of The Race's history before the establishment of The Empire. It is known that 75,000 years ago (Earth years, EY), The Race homeworld was fully explored by a male of The Race named Sherran, who would later become a folk hero. The Race learned how to harness nuclear energy at roughly the same period. Slavery had been abolished long before the founding of The Empire, though the exact time when is unknown.
At the time when the Race was divided into competing nations, these are known to have maintained a system of diplomatic relations with each other. (When needing to establish diplomatic relations with human nations, the Race would locate in old records the long-obsolete pattern of body paint proper for an Ambassador and bring it back into use.)
50,000 EY ago, the various Race nations unified into a single government headed by The Emperor. The Rabotevs were conquered 14,000 EY ago by Fleetlord Pssafalu, and the Hallessi 9,000 EY later by Fleetlord Hisstan. Due to their superior technology, The Race suffered few losses in their wars of conquest. Memorials on their conquered worlds show that Race casualties numbered in a few dozen on Halless 1, while on Rabotev 2, it was a few hundred.
In 1141 AD, The Empire sent probes to Earth (called Tosev 3 by the Race). After determining it was inhabited and technologically underdeveloped, the Race spent 800 years preparing for its conquest. The Conquest Fleet under Fleetlord Atvar arrived in Tosev 3’s solar system on December 1941, after a 20 year (human years) journey spent in cold sleep. Upon receiving radio emissions emanating from the planet, the Race was shocked that humans had rapidly developed into an industrial society, far more advanced than what the probes had shown. The Race commenced with military operations in May 1942, detonating several atom bombs above the Earth's atmosphere in an attempt to disrupt human communications. On the night of May 30, only hours after detonating the atomics, the Race's forces attacked human aircraft and ground vehicles in and around designated landing zones. Once the sites were secured, troop ships began landing and unloading ground forces. The Race simultaneously established bases on every continent except Antarctica. South America and Africa were overrun almost immediately. Landing bases in Florida, Illinois, Idaho, and New York caused widespread panic and chaos in the United States. The Race also established bases in Poland, cutting Nazi Germany off from the bulk of its forces in the Soviet Union, forcing a massive German retreat westward. Britain's air force was battered from bases in Spain and France. On the night the invasion was launched, Killercraft intercepted a thousand bomber RAF raid over Germany. The Soviet Union had to deal with enemy strongholds in the Ukrainian SSR, Outer Mongolia, and Siberia. In the early days of the fighting, only Germany was able to battle the aliens with any measure of success because its economy had been specifically geared toward war. The Race discovered that their orbital atomic detonations had little if any effect on the human militaries because they did not yet possess silicon computer chips.
The free powers of Earth gained more momentum after German rail gun Dora destroyed two of the Race's ships, one of which carried the bulk of the Conquest Fleet's atomic stockpile. Samples of plutonium were appropriated by German, Soviet and Jewish rebel forces. In an attempt to reduce human resistance, Atvar ordered the use of atomic weapons on Washington, DC and Berlin, compelling both nations to fight harder and to hasten production of their own atomic weapons.
The effect of the war on the psyche of the Conquest fleet soldiers was steep. Although they rapidly conquered and held about half of Earth, they regarded the invasion as a dismal failure because the whole of Earth did not fall in days. Indeed, although the Race usually had the upper hand, they took staggering (to them) losses due to attrition. Furthermore, the Race's hierarchical society was strained by their mounting losses and inability to conquer Earth. This gradually led to splits within the ranks of the Fleet officers; disgruntled frontline soldiers in Siberia unofficially led by Ussmak mutinied against their officers (an unthinkable act in their culture), demanding new army leadership that would stop the high attrition they were suffering.
Impact on HumansEdit
The effects of the Conquest could not have been foreseen by either party - least of all the Race, given their ultra-conservative culture. Within months after the start of the Conquest, three human factions (the United States of America, the German Reich, and Russia) had salvaged plutonium, when a German railroad gun knocked down two Race starships over the Ukraine (as Race antimissile missiles were unable to destroy a large reinforced shell in mid flight) and produced their own atomic bombs. German and British fighter airplanes were re-designed with jet engines and swept wings for faster flight, in an attempt to at least partially close the gap with supersonic Race killercraft. Several other inventions (mostly military, including the bazooka) and tactics were thus developed years ahead of their times in regular history.
By the 1960s (during the time of Colonization, when the Race held most of the Southern Hemisphere of Tosev 3), most cars in America ran on hydrogen. Personal computers were used by an increasing number of workers, thanks to advances in electronics from scavenged Race technology. A primitive form of the Internet was growing. Several trips had been taken aboard reusable space shuttles to space and to the Moon and Mars.
The partial occupation also had a significant effect on culture and society in general. Ginger, discovered to have a narcotic effect on the Race, is widely grown and stored by various governments. Culturally, humans try to take the occupation in stride, e.g. a song by Spike Jones, referring to Jones' song "Der Fuehrer's Face" from the real-world timeline:
- When the Fleetlord says, "The Earth is for the Race,"
- We SSS! SSS! right in the Fleetlord's face!
- When the Fleetlord says, "We rule the Earth from space,"
- We SSS! SSS! right in the Fleetlord's face!
In the 1962, shortly after the Race's Colonization Fleet arrived in Earth's orbit, it was attacked with nuclear weapons by an unknown nation. Twelve starships and countless colonists were destroyed. The ma tter was immediately investigated by the Race. The Race colonists (who included the first females of the Race to live on the planet), expecting a conquered medieval planet, were surprised and bewildered by their situation in a world inhabited by a technological advanced alien race technically at war with the Race. The colonists had extreme difficultly in adapting to these circumstances, which included military threats and economic competition from sovereign "Tosevite not-empires"; frequent revolts by humans living within the Race's territory; and the many social disruptions associated with ginger, the use of which quickly became widespread among the colonists.
The social relationships between the Race of the Conquest Fleet that fought on Earth and the colonists were mildly dissatisfying. The colonists found the Race of the Conquest Fleet to be "addled," irrevocably damaged by their exposure to the "degenerate" culture of "Tosev 3", and were also widely blamed for the Race's failure to conquer the entire planet. Furthermore, the Fleetlord of the Colonization Fleet, Reffet, bickered and feuded with Atvar, blaming him for his failure to conquer the planet.
The most damaging effect for Earth from the colonists was the introduction of the Race's flora and fauna to the planet, including animals such as Azwaca and Zisuili. The environmental damages caused by the alien flora and fauna included massive famines in India.
Eventually hostilities reignited between Germany and the Race, culminating in the Race-German War of 1965. This conflict caused massive destruction on both sides. The Race proved victorious, and Europe was devastated by nuclear explosions and fallout. The war also suggested the possiblity that global conquest for the Race would be impossible to accomplish.
By the end of the twentieth century, the United States had sent a diplomat delegation the Race homeworld to recognize the nation's sovereignty. The Race hierarchy on Home were alarmed of the humans in their advance in interstellar technology and acknowledging the history that the Conquest and Colonization fleet had endured, they debated on whether to annihilate Earth with nuclear weapons for the sake of the survival of their species. As the delegation negotiate the Race in preventing nuclear annihilation, the humans have achieved faster-than-light technology allowing (human) spaceships to travel across the cosmos in short weeks in which the American spaceship Commodore Perry arrived in Home's orbit greatly alarming the Race hierarchy.
By the mid-twentieth-first century the Race have utterly been technologically overshadowed by the human race. By far into this century that many of the Race held territories are still resisting its occupiers and that many of its "former" enemies, including a restored and stronger Germany, are once again a more potential threat to the Race.