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Literature: Mother of Demons

A science fiction novel by Eric Flint, Mother of Demons follows the establishment of a human colony on an alien planet... well, more or less. It also follows the native sentients as they reach the tipping point of empire formation, and the linked point of the establishment of a new religion.

Somewhat unusually for an aliens-meet-humans novel, there is almost no effort to establish which species is superior and which is inferior, and neither is there any immediate humans-versus-aliens conflict. Instead, the book integrates the few surviving adults and the multitude of children from Earth with the less aggressive sentient species.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Technically, Action Gukuy. Nukurren, Kopporu, and Guo are examples of this that are named in the story, although it can be assumed that just about every member of the all-female gukuy armies is this.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Gukuy are initially puzzled by a number of traits the humans exhibit, examples being the way they move and manipulate objects (Gukuy see it as unusually fast and difficult to understand), the means by which humans convey emotion (Gukuy change colours of their mantles to do this, with certain colours indicating certain emotions and initially mistake humans' skin colour as their expression, leading to some misunderstandings) and the fact that all males and females appear to be fertile (Gukuy have four sexes: sterile females, Mothers, sterile males and Truemales).
    • Partially Subverted with humans' reaction to the Gukuy and Owoc. Although they are initially taken aback by their size and appearance, humans quickly see that Gukuyan biology is quite similar to that of molluscs found on Earth early in it's history.
  • Dual Wielding: The standard weapon of a battle-mother is a mace and shield. However, Guo fights with two maces.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Gukuy mathematics are based on the number eight instead of ten, due to the analogy with octopi. When they say "eighty" what they are really saying is "eight times eight" or sixty-four. This is the same as 100 being ten times ten.
  • Fantastic Racism: Many Gukuy see other intelligent species on their planet (such as the Owoc) as lesser beings, and refer to them as "sub-gukuy".
  • Glass Cannon: The humans are this in the setting as they are able to move faster than the gukuy and inflict lethal blows gukuy are incapable of doing, but are a lot more fragile and smaller than the latter.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Kopporu. Ruthless, practical, tactical genius.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu / Humans Through Alien Eyes : Humans are initially seen as demons (the title refers to them) by the native inhabitants since they move faster than any local species and their jointed limbs allow them to use hand-thrown projectiles—something which the tentacled locals cannot do. The impression as otherworldly demons generally dissipated as the locals learned more about humans and their origins (although there is still some religious element for them).
  • Innocent Aliens: The owoc, a closely-related species to the gukuy, but larger and with lower intelligence, as well as being far more peaceful. (Though a human character notes that owoc may not be less intelligent; the way they think is simply very different to the way humans — and gukuy — think.)
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: According to Ushulubang, Goloku turned into this when she got drunk. May also intersect with Hard-Drinking Party Girl because she was apparently drunk a lot.
  • Mighty Glacier: Any Battlemother, but Guo in particular. Mothers are a lot larger, slower, and stronger than females, but Guo is exceptionally large and powerful even for a mother. Their lack of speed requires special battle tactics to keep the enemy corraled so the Battlemother can crush them.
  • Slave Liberation: Some Gukuy travel the land enslaving the more passive and timid owoc. Whenever humans encounter a gukuy slave caravan, they promptly slaughter the guards and free the owoc slaves.
  • Starfish Aliens: The native intelligent species are vaguely equivalent to land-dwelling mollusks, using modified "feet" for movement, having thick mantles as "shells" and squid-like faces. There are absolutely no instances of vertebrates. There are also four sexes; sterile females, breeding mothers, "truemales" who breed with the mothers, and eumales who are pretty much eunuchs. To top it off, their emotions show clearly in their mantle color.


Motherless BrooklynLiterature of the 1990sThe Mouse Betrayed
Mostly HarmlessScience Fiction LiteratureMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

alternative title(s): Mother Of Demons
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