History Main / CordwainerSmith

21st Jan '13 1:23:16 PM Xtifr
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Cordwainer Smith was the pen name of Doctor Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger: ScienceFiction writer, poet, and psychological warfare expert. In fact, he wrote the literal book on Psychological Warfare. He was a man of the world, but had particular ties to China and the Far East; his godfather was Sun Yat-sen, and he was a confidant of Chiang Kai-shek.

Most of his SpeculativeFiction work describes the future history of the [[TheVerse Instrumentality of Mankind]], which was richly described but left a lot to the reader's imagination. Influenced by Chinese short stories, Mr. Smith's books [[SignatureStyle cannot be mistaken for anyone else's work]].
----
!!Works by Cordwainer Smith with their own trope pages include:

* "Literature/ScannersLiveInVain"

!!Cordwainer Smith had an affinity for:
* AuthorAppeal: Meow!
* AuthorExistenceFailure: See NoodleIncident, below.
* BodyDouble: In ''Norstrilia'', Rod gets ten body doubles when he arrives on Earth. Eleanor is surgically modified to look like him, and nine robot doubles are also sent out.
* BodyHorror: "A Planet Called Shayol" has a lot of this.
* BrownNote: "The Fife of Bodhidharma", "No, No, Not Rogov!".
* CatGirl: Literally with C'Mell. What's particularly notable about this example is that she may have been the ''[[UrExample first]]'' literal cat girl, arriving in 1962.
** As well as dog girls, snake girls, buffalo girls....
* {{Cyborg}}: The use of living rat brains as components in technology.
** Individual robots sometimes have other kinds of animal brains, two different robots are described having a chicken brain and an owl brain.
* CrystalSpiresAndTogas: Subverted in that the Instrumentality deliberately allow the people to go back to a more retrograde way of life, with their approval.
* DaysOfFuturePast: as noted.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Most of his stories are Christian allegories, but it is subtle and many will miss them.
** "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell" was written during the peak of the civil rights movement.
** A number of his stories, including the aforementioned "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell", were also inspired by Chinese literature.
* DefectorFromDecadence: The Instrumentality forces this on civilization.
* DoomyDoomsOfDoom: In ''Norstrilia'', Rod is the heir to the Station of Doom. It was named back when it was actually dangerous.
* EasterEgg: A rather impressive one in ''Quest of Three Worlds''. The author manages to have the first letter of each word, in consecutive sentences, to spell the phrases "KENNEDY SHOT" and "OSWALD TOO". And all without breaking the narrative flow.
* EldritchAbomination: The reason Planoform ships require pinlighting teams in "The Game of Rat and Dragon".
* ElectricInstantGratification: for recreation and pain relief.
* TheEmpire: Several.
* TheFederation: The Instrumentality functions as a kind of variant on this, presumably.
** TheEmpire: Has elements of this as well. Though, it's vague in how the Instrumentality actually works.
* AFoolAndHisNewMoneyAreSoonParted: ''Norstrilia'' starts with Rod making enough money to literally buy everything on Earth; by the end of the book, he's given away almost all of it (though he keeps enough to be rich).
* ForegoneConclusion: ''Norstrilia'', for example, tells you exactly how everything's going to turn out in the prologue.
* FutureImperfect: The great Terran metropolis of Meeya Meefla -- which is what you get when you try to pronounce "MIAMI FLA." phonetically. Incidentally, this is the one city in the Instrumentality whose name has changed the ''least'' in the centuries since its founding.
* GenderBender: Eleanor in ''Norstrilia''.
* GratuitousForeignLanguage
* HumanSubspecies:
** When colonizing the stars, humanity had to adapt to several different worlds. These changes results in many True Humans looking nothing like humans.
** Inverted with the Underpeople. They're animals genetically modified to be human. In fact, they're more human than True Humans.
* HumongousMecha: The titular "Mark Elf" manshonyagger - it's a "Model 11" German-made man-hunting robot, continuing its mission long after the war was over.
* IChooseToStay: At the end of ''Norstrilia'', Eleanor decides she likes being Rod and stays on Earth in his body.
* InterspeciesRomance: In ''The Game Of Rat And Dragon'', humans and cats must telepathically link to fight off aliens that MindRape humans traveling through deep space. The protagonist finds he enjoys being linked with his feline partner a little ''too'' much and the story ends with him repeatedly reminding himself "She's a ''cat!''"
* ItsRainingMen: "When the People Fell"
* JeanneDArchetype: D'joan in "The Dead Lady of Clown Town."
* MagicMusic: "The Fife of Bodhidharma", which doesn't take place in the Instrumentality of Mankind universe.
* MeaningfulName: Oh so many.
* MindScrew: Frequently.
* NoBiochemicalBarriers: The Apicians in "From Gustible's Planet" have extremely Earth-like biochemistry; this is specifically called out as unusual.
* NoodleIncident: many major events, both historical and personal, are alluded to but never specifically described in-story. Smith apparently had plans for more stories, but he died before he could write them. As an example, we never learn the nature of the "crime without a name" committed by the main character of "A Planet Named Shayol".
* OneGenderRace: The Arachosians in "The Crime and Glory of Commander Suzdal".
* OneProductPlanet: Norstrilia, which has the monopoly on the immortality drug Stroon. In addition, there's Viola Siderea (an Underworld) and Shayol (see below).
* PenalColony: Shayol, of the BodyHorror kind.
* PettingZooPeople: Some of the Underpeople. It seems to vary from underperson to underperson; some are more animalistic in appearance than others. In the story ''On The Gem Planet'' one of the Underpeople is a Tiger-Man who is very clearly described as looking more like a tiger then a man, though this seems to be unusual among underpeople.
* PlanetSpaceship: The Golden Ships.
* PunctuationShaker
* PopulationControl: Norstrilia practices population control by way of a RiteOfPassage: you go into a room, are examined by a panel, and either come out a full citizen or are given a painless death.
* RipVanWinkle: "Mark Elf" and "The Queen of the Afternoon" are about three German sisters from 1945 who end up in the future.
* ShoutOut: Smith gets a lot of shot outs by {{Gainax}}. Notably in ''NeonGenesisEvangelion'', ''{{FLCL}}'', and ''GurrenLagann''.
* [[spoiler:StableTimeLoop]]: What ends up becoming known as [[TitleDrop "The Crime And The Glory of Commander Suzdal"]].
* StandardSciFiFleet: Gives two unique ship types: Football sized Fighters piloted by cats, and the Golden Ships, a sphere ''90 Million miles'' in length.
* StandardSciFiHistory: Plays the trope straight, but then the Instrumentality appears to have reached its Apex, it stays stuck in an Interregnum of stagnation until it decides to re-diversify humanity.
* SuperweaponSurprise: "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons". Everybody ''knows'' that the planet of Norstrilia has a secret weapon. ''What'' it is, nobody ever lives to tell.
* ToServeMan: [[spoiler:Inverted]] in "From Gustible's Planet".
* UnusualUserInterface: Genetically altered animals, a giant scrying dish and many more.
* UpliftedAnimal: The Underpeople.
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The Instrumentality feel it does.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Linebarger lost all his enthusiasm for the Instrumentality stories after he accidentally dropped the notebook in which he kept his plot ideas into a lake, rendering it unreadable and useless. He died before he could reconstruct any of the lost stories, and it's doubtful whether he would have bothered to try.
* [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs What Do You Mean It Wasn't Written On Drugs?]] This does not impede the quality of the writing.
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: The stories concentrating on the Underpeople. They can love, sing, think, pray... but they're less than nothing to the Instrumentality.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Subverted. When a certain planet is found to have the components to make one immortal, the opportunity is there, although the Instrumentality seems to settle for 400 years (there is a dismissive reference to people who try to live longer than that).
----

to:

Cordwainer Smith was the pen name of Doctor Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger: ScienceFiction writer, poet, and psychological warfare expert. In fact, he wrote the literal book on Psychological Warfare. He was a man of the world, but had particular ties to China and the Far East; his godfather was Sun Yat-sen, and he was a confidant of Chiang Kai-shek.

Most of his SpeculativeFiction work describes the future history of the [[TheVerse Instrumentality of Mankind]], which was richly described but left a lot to the reader's imagination. Influenced by Chinese short stories, Mr. Smith's books [[SignatureStyle cannot be mistaken for anyone else's work]].
----
!!Works by Cordwainer Smith with their own trope pages include:

* "Literature/ScannersLiveInVain"

!!Cordwainer Smith had an affinity for:
* AuthorAppeal: Meow!
* AuthorExistenceFailure: See NoodleIncident, below.
* BodyDouble: In ''Norstrilia'', Rod gets ten body doubles when he arrives on Earth. Eleanor is surgically modified to look like him, and nine robot doubles are also sent out.
* BodyHorror: "A Planet Called Shayol" has a lot of this.
* BrownNote: "The Fife of Bodhidharma", "No, No, Not Rogov!".
* CatGirl: Literally with C'Mell. What's particularly notable about this example is that she may have been the ''[[UrExample first]]'' literal cat girl, arriving in 1962.
** As well as dog girls, snake girls, buffalo girls....
* {{Cyborg}}: The use of living rat brains as components in technology.
** Individual robots sometimes have other kinds of animal brains, two different robots are described having a chicken brain and an owl brain.
* CrystalSpiresAndTogas: Subverted in that the Instrumentality deliberately allow the people to go back to a more retrograde way of life, with their approval.
* DaysOfFuturePast: as noted.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Most of his stories are Christian allegories, but it is subtle and many will miss them.
** "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell" was written during the peak of the civil rights movement.
** A number of his stories, including the aforementioned "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell", were also inspired by Chinese literature.
* DefectorFromDecadence: The Instrumentality forces this on civilization.
* DoomyDoomsOfDoom: In ''Norstrilia'', Rod is the heir to the Station of Doom. It was named back when it was actually dangerous.
* EasterEgg: A rather impressive one in ''Quest of Three Worlds''. The author manages to have the first letter of each word, in consecutive sentences, to spell the phrases "KENNEDY SHOT" and "OSWALD TOO". And all without breaking the narrative flow.
* EldritchAbomination: The reason Planoform ships require pinlighting teams in "The Game of Rat and Dragon".
* ElectricInstantGratification: for recreation and pain relief.
* TheEmpire: Several.
* TheFederation: The Instrumentality functions as a kind of variant on this, presumably.
** TheEmpire: Has elements of this as well. Though, it's vague in how the Instrumentality actually works.
* AFoolAndHisNewMoneyAreSoonParted: ''Norstrilia'' starts with Rod making enough money to literally buy everything on Earth; by the end of the book, he's given away almost all of it (though he keeps enough to be rich).
* ForegoneConclusion: ''Norstrilia'', for example, tells you exactly how everything's going to turn out in the prologue.
* FutureImperfect: The great Terran metropolis of Meeya Meefla -- which is what you get when you try to pronounce "MIAMI FLA." phonetically. Incidentally, this is the one city in the Instrumentality whose name has changed the ''least'' in the centuries since its founding.
* GenderBender: Eleanor in ''Norstrilia''.
* GratuitousForeignLanguage
* HumanSubspecies:
** When colonizing the stars, humanity had to adapt to several different worlds. These changes results in many True Humans looking nothing like humans.
** Inverted with the Underpeople. They're animals genetically modified to be human. In fact, they're more human than True Humans.
* HumongousMecha: The titular "Mark Elf" manshonyagger - it's a "Model 11" German-made man-hunting robot, continuing its mission long after the war was over.
* IChooseToStay: At the end of ''Norstrilia'', Eleanor decides she likes being Rod and stays on Earth in his body.
* InterspeciesRomance: In ''The Game Of Rat And Dragon'', humans and cats must telepathically link to fight off aliens that MindRape humans traveling through deep space. The protagonist finds he enjoys being linked with his feline partner a little ''too'' much and the story ends with him repeatedly reminding himself "She's a ''cat!''"
* ItsRainingMen: "When the People Fell"
* JeanneDArchetype: D'joan in "The Dead Lady of Clown Town."
* MagicMusic: "The Fife of Bodhidharma", which doesn't take place in the Instrumentality of Mankind universe.
* MeaningfulName: Oh so many.
* MindScrew: Frequently.
* NoBiochemicalBarriers: The Apicians in "From Gustible's Planet" have extremely Earth-like biochemistry; this is specifically called out as unusual.
* NoodleIncident: many major events, both historical and personal, are alluded to but never specifically described in-story. Smith apparently had plans for more stories, but he died before he could write them. As an example, we never learn the nature of the "crime without a name" committed by the main character of "A Planet Named Shayol".
* OneGenderRace: The Arachosians in "The Crime and Glory of Commander Suzdal".
* OneProductPlanet: Norstrilia, which has the monopoly on the immortality drug Stroon. In addition, there's Viola Siderea (an Underworld) and Shayol (see below).
* PenalColony: Shayol, of the BodyHorror kind.
* PettingZooPeople: Some of the Underpeople. It seems to vary from underperson to underperson; some are more animalistic in appearance than others. In the story ''On The Gem Planet'' one of the Underpeople is a Tiger-Man who is very clearly described as looking more like a tiger then a man, though this seems to be unusual among underpeople.
* PlanetSpaceship: The Golden Ships.
* PunctuationShaker
* PopulationControl: Norstrilia practices population control by way of a RiteOfPassage: you go into a room, are examined by a panel, and either come out a full citizen or are given a painless death.
* RipVanWinkle: "Mark Elf" and "The Queen of the Afternoon" are about three German sisters from 1945 who end up in the future.
* ShoutOut: Smith gets a lot of shot outs by {{Gainax}}. Notably in ''NeonGenesisEvangelion'', ''{{FLCL}}'', and ''GurrenLagann''.
* [[spoiler:StableTimeLoop]]: What ends up becoming known as [[TitleDrop "The Crime And The Glory of Commander Suzdal"]].
* StandardSciFiFleet: Gives two unique ship types: Football sized Fighters piloted by cats, and the Golden Ships, a sphere ''90 Million miles'' in length.
* StandardSciFiHistory: Plays the trope straight, but then the Instrumentality appears to have reached its Apex, it stays stuck in an Interregnum of stagnation until it decides to re-diversify humanity.
* SuperweaponSurprise: "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons". Everybody ''knows'' that the planet of Norstrilia has a secret weapon. ''What'' it is, nobody ever lives to tell.
* ToServeMan: [[spoiler:Inverted]] in "From Gustible's Planet".
* UnusualUserInterface: Genetically altered animals, a giant scrying dish and many more.
* UpliftedAnimal: The Underpeople.
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The Instrumentality feel it does.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Linebarger lost all his enthusiasm for the Instrumentality stories after he accidentally dropped the notebook in which he kept his plot ideas into a lake, rendering it unreadable and useless. He died before he could reconstruct any of the lost stories, and it's doubtful whether he would have bothered to try.
* [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs What Do You Mean It Wasn't Written On Drugs?]] This does not impede the quality of the writing.
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: The stories concentrating on the Underpeople. They can love, sing, think, pray... but they're less than nothing to the Instrumentality.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Subverted. When a certain planet is found to have the components to make one immortal, the opportunity is there, although the Instrumentality seems to settle for 400 years (there is a dismissive reference to people who try to live longer than that).
----
[[redirect:Creator/CordwainerSmith]]
21st Jan '13 1:19:46 PM Gatomon41
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Added DiffLines:

* PlanetSpaceship: The Golden Ships.
14th Jan '13 11:36:54 PM Gatomon41
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* CatGirl: Literally.

to:

* CatGirl: Literally. Literally with C'Mell. What's particularly notable about this example is that she may have been the ''[[UrExample first]]'' literal cat girl, arriving in 1962.



** What's particularly notable about this example is that C'Mell may have been the ''[[UrExample first]]'' literal cat girl, arriving in 1962.



* OneProductPlanet: Norstrilia, which has the monopoly on the imortallity drug Stroon. In addition, there's Viola Siderea (an Underworld) and Shayol (see below).

to:

* OneProductPlanet: Norstrilia, which has the monopoly on the imortallity immortality drug Stroon. In addition, there's Viola Siderea (an Underworld) and Shayol (see below).
30th Dec '12 11:01:03 AM Penguin123
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* {{Cyborg}}: The use of living rat brains as components in technology.

to:

* {{Cyborg}}: The use of living rat brains as components in technology. technology.
** Individual robots sometimes have other kinds of animal brains, two different robots are described having a chicken brain and an owl brain.
11th Dec '12 1:30:25 AM PaulA
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* PettingZooPeople: Possibly. He doesn't really describe the physical appearance of the Underpeople.
** Sometimes he does, and it seems to vary from underperson to underperson as it seems some are more animalistic in appearance then others, in the story ''On The Gem Planet'' one of the Underpeople is a Tiger-Man who is very clearly described as looking more like a tiger then a man, though this seems to be unusual among underpeople.

to:

* PettingZooPeople: Possibly. He doesn't really describe the physical appearance Some of the Underpeople.
** Sometimes he does, and it
Underpeople. It seems to vary from underperson to underperson as it seems underperson; some are more animalistic in appearance then others, in than others. In the story ''On The Gem Planet'' one of the Underpeople is a Tiger-Man who is very clearly described as looking more like a tiger then a man, though this seems to be unusual among underpeople. underpeople.
10th Dec '12 8:19:39 PM Penguin123
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Added DiffLines:

** Sometimes he does, and it seems to vary from underperson to underperson as it seems some are more animalistic in appearance then others, in the story ''On The Gem Planet'' one of the Underpeople is a Tiger-Man who is very clearly described as looking more like a tiger then a man, though this seems to be unusual among underpeople.
20th Nov '12 10:56:43 AM JakesBrain
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* FutureImperfect: The great Terran metropolis of Meeya Meefla (which is what you get when you try to pronounce "MIAMI FLA." phonetically).

to:

* FutureImperfect: The great Terran metropolis of Meeya Meefla (which -- which is what you get when you try to pronounce "MIAMI FLA." phonetically).phonetically. Incidentally, this is the one city in the Instrumentality whose name has changed the ''least'' in the centuries since its founding.



* OneGenderRace: The Arachosians in "The Crime and Glory of Commander Sudzal".

to:

* OneGenderRace: The Arachosians in "The Crime and Glory of Commander Sudzal".Suzdal".



* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The Instrumentality feel it does.

to:

* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The Instrumentality feel it does. does.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Linebarger lost all his enthusiasm for the Instrumentality stories after he accidentally dropped the notebook in which he kept his plot ideas into a lake, rendering it unreadable and useless. He died before he could reconstruct any of the lost stories, and it's doubtful whether he would have bothered to try.
8th Oct '12 7:07:38 PM PaulA
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* HumongousMecha: The titular "Mark Elf" manshonyagger - it's a "Model 11" German-made man-hunting robot, continuing it's mission long after the war was over.

to:

* HumongousMecha: The titular "Mark Elf" manshonyagger - it's a "Model 11" German-made man-hunting robot, continuing it's its mission long after the war was over.
8th Oct '12 12:54:07 PM Gatomon41
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Cordwainer Smith was the pen name of Doctor Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger: ScienceFiction writer, poet, and psychological warfare expert. He was a man of the world, but had particular ties to China and the Far East; his godfather was Sun Yat-sen, and he was a confidant of Chiang Kai-shek.

to:

Cordwainer Smith was the pen name of Doctor Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger: ScienceFiction writer, poet, and psychological warfare expert. In fact, he wrote the literal book on Psychological Warfare. He was a man of the world, but had particular ties to China and the Far East; his godfather was Sun Yat-sen, and he was a confidant of Chiang Kai-shek.



* HumongousMecha: The titular "Mark Elf" manshonyagger - it's a "Model 11" German-made man-hunting robot, continuing it's mission long after the war was over.



* ItsRainingMen

to:

* ItsRainingMenItsRainingMen: "When the People Fell"


Added DiffLines:

* MeaningfulName: Oh so many.


Added DiffLines:

* ShoutOut: Smith gets a lot of shot outs by {{Gainax}}. Notably in ''NeonGenesisEvangelion'', ''{{FLCL}}'', and ''GurrenLagann''.
8th Oct '12 12:40:07 PM Gatomon41
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* AuthorExistenceFailure (See NoodleIncident, below)

to:

* AuthorExistenceFailure (See AuthorExistenceFailure: See NoodleIncident, below)below.



* BrownNote ("The Fife of Bodhidharma", "No, No, Not Rogov!")
* CatGirl (literally)

to:

* BrownNote ("The BrownNote: "The Fife of Bodhidharma", "No, No, Not Rogov!")
Rogov!".
* CatGirl (literally)CatGirl: Literally.



** What's particularly notable about this example is that C'Mell may have been the ''[[UrExample first]]'' cat girl, arriving in 1962.

to:

** What's particularly notable about this example is that C'Mell may have been the ''[[UrExample first]]'' literal cat girl, arriving in 1962.



* CrystalSpiresAndTogas. Subverted in that the Instrumentality deliberately allow the people to go back to a more retrograde way of life, with their approval.
* DaysOfFuturePast (as noted)

to:

* CrystalSpiresAndTogas. CrystalSpiresAndTogas: Subverted in that the Instrumentality deliberately allow the people to go back to a more retrograde way of life, with their approval.
* DaysOfFuturePast (as noted)DaysOfFuturePast: as noted.



* EasterEgg: A rather impressive one in ''Quest of Three Worlds''. The author manages to have the first letter of each word, in consecutive sentences, to spell the phrases "KENNEDY SHOT" and "OSWALD TOO". And all without breaking the narrative flow.



* TheFederation: The Instrumentality functions as a kind of variant on this, presumably.

to:

* TheFederation: The Instrumentality functions as a kind of variant on this, presumably. presumably.
** TheEmpire: Has elements of this as well. Though, it's vague in how the Instrumentality actually works.



* HumanSubspecies:
** When colonizing the stars, humanity had to adapt to several different worlds. These changes results in many True Humans looking nothing like humans.
** Inverted with the Underpeople. They're animals genetically modified to be human. In fact, they're more human than True Humans.



* MagicMusic ("The Fife of Bodhidharma", which doesn't take place in the Instrumentality of Mankind universe.)

to:

* MagicMusic ("The MagicMusic: "The Fife of Bodhidharma", which doesn't take place in the Instrumentality of Mankind universe.)



* StandardSciFiFleet: Gives two unique ship types: Football sized Fighters piloted by cats, and the Golden Ships, a sphere ''90 Million miles'' in length.



* SuperweaponSurprise ("Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons". Everybody ''knows'' that the planet of Norstrilia has a secret weapon. ''What'' it is, nobody ever lives to tell.)

to:

* SuperweaponSurprise ("Mother SuperweaponSurprise: "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons". Everybody ''knows'' that the planet of Norstrilia has a secret weapon. ''What'' it is, nobody ever lives to tell.)



* UnusualUserInterface (genetically altered animals, a giant scrying dish and many more)
* UpliftedAnimal: The underpeople.

to:

* UnusualUserInterface (genetically UnusualUserInterface: Genetically altered animals, a giant scrying dish and many more)
more.
* UpliftedAnimal: The underpeople.Underpeople.



* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: The stories concentrating on the Underpeople.

to:

* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: The stories concentrating on the Underpeople. They can love, sing, think, pray... but they're less than nothing to the Instrumentality.
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