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Headscratchers / Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger

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    Kvrk-Chk Genocide 

  • I know that the Kvrk-Chk were made of almost pure Obviously Evil so that the Raccoonan's destruction of "one of their most heavily populated solar systems" in retaliation for a single act of terrorism is seen as badass instead of a Moral Event Horizon. Even so, the evil traits thrown together to do so make no sense. How does a race of creatures that are constantly cannibalizing each other develop a culture at all, let alone a monoculture fascist state? Does "racism" have any meaning when every living thing, including your own kind, is food? Why would creatures so perfectly adapted to their environment become tool-users at all, let alone develop spacefaring technology? How did they? Even in the panels where they have hand-like appendages, those appendages are clearly chitinous claws, far less dextrous than human hands or raccoonan paws. They would make sense as an Alien-style monster race, spreading across the universe like a disease, infesting targets of opportunity, but an Evil Empire? Not so much.
    • Well, they're not so much "superbly adapted" in their native environment as superbly neutralized. Their ecosystem is as ferocious as they are (Word of God, visualize an ecosystem so turbocharged that you HAVE to eat your food alive, simply to keep it from rotting first, or being devoured right on your plate by parasites and insects. ) Once they got off-planet, however, they were simply the baddest biology out there. Basically, they're from Space Australia.
    • Besides which, being well adapted to one's environment has never prevented HUMANS from being Jerkasses. (And we are; we are capable of surviving in more climates and environments than most anything out there IRL, and our intelligence and tool using makes us more so.) All it takes for a totalitarian regime to arise is a sufficient crisis (in their case, "our planet sucks!") and someone to promise them deliverance ("to the stars! There are worlds out there and they taste good with ketchup!") and assure them that they were destined to be rulers in the glorious new order ("those lesser species are nothing but cattle to us! we shall be as gods to them!") The fact that they ARE an interstellar race, and are, in fact, finding planets full of bountiful resources, means that the regime has managed to deliver on its promise ("A chicken screaming in agony in every pot!") which explains its longevity. Of course this also means they have to maintain a constant level of outward-bound conquest....
    • As to cannibalism, Controlled cannibalism was simply a way to assure you actually brought something edible into the house... their limbs grow back, after all. And UNcontrolled cannibalism would occur when the population density got to dangerous levels and triggered an atavistic feeding.... Any rate, there are far stranger systems for species than that right here on earth.
    • I knew I should've been more specific about "being well-adapted to their environment". Here's the thing about humans: yes, we can endure a broader variety of climates than most animals out there. However, our natural weaponry sucks. Our claws are vestiges, our teeth are a joke, and pound-for-pound, we're probably the weakest apes around. Can't run very fast either, for all that we can run far. That's why we became tool users. We became the social animals we are for similar reasons - those, and our long gestation period, and the fact that our children are so totally defenseless for so long. Besides, one human using one spear against a lion or a mastodon is pretty screwed, but if the whole clan gets into the act, we can do some damage. That's why the sequence of events you describe above would succeed in bringing humans into a totalitarian regime - we want to be part of a group. It's just convincing us to totally sublimate our identity to the group, sacrifice our own lives for the good of the group, and do things that we would otherwise believe to be wrong for the good of the group that takes some work. The kvrk-chk, on the other hand, are covered with spikes and sharp edges, not to mention a carapace that can repel artillery. Why would they become tool users at all? (BTW, I still question how they did it, considering that those hand-like appendages look a lot less dextrous and sensitive that human or racoonan hands.) As for socialization, we're talking about creatures who, even now, at the height of a starfaring civilization, still need to maintain a constant territorial expansion to avoid falling into the cannibalistic frenzy that will ensue if their population density gets too high. Their young have to be deadly from birth in the environment that the author described, so if they have anything like human nurturing instincts or social needs I'd be shocked. How did such creatures ever come up with the concept of cooperation, let alone society, let alone fascism?
    • You keep missing the point that all those "badass" features are NOTHING SPECIAL back on their home world, and are in fact what is minimally needed to survive. Before arising to complete dominance in their ecosphere, there would have been creatures that were to them what a Bengal tiger, a shark, or a grizzly bear is to us. And those attributes you disparage as being "unnecessary" to such creatures— such as parental instinct, group cooperation, and tool use—- are a common feature of species ranging from arthropods up to hominids... precisely because they're damned useful and give one hell of an edge over the primitive "feed and breed" species.
    • And the point that you keep missing is that creatures who need to constantly expand their territory to avoid falling into a cannibalistic feeding frenzy do not and can not have the same social instincts as humans (or indeed, any other creature that survives by working in groups). As useful as those instincts may be to us (I never did disparage them, for the record), their psychology would almost necessarily take a different path. Their instinctive reaction to overcrowding would most likely create a "society" of lone individuals staking out isolated territories for themselves, with none trusting the others...pretty much the worst possible situation to set up a totalitarian monoculture. I'll grant you the possibility that they might have "needed" to develop tool use, but I still don't see how they managed to develop tools more complex than sharpened sticks (it would help if RH was consistent in how he drew them - in one panel, the one we see has tiny, T-Rex like pseudohands. In another, it has crablike claws in the same place).
    • Coincidentally, you underrate human beings, even unarmed ones. Humans are 200 lb animals with grasping hands and fists, astonishing endurance, omnivorous appetite, and have been known to take down animals equal to their own size or larger—- large dangerous carnivores, even—- with their bare hands.
    • Our endurance and omnivorous appetite - while useful adaptations indeed - don't really challenge my statement that our natural weapons suck. As for the rest, I don't see how grasping hands (unless they have a weapon in them) or fists match up to claws, fangs, horns or other proper natural weaponry. Got any links to humans taking down large dangerous carnivores with their bare hands? I'd like to see that. Even so, I have to think that they were rare and isolated cases - not something that a population can depend on.
    • When you know what you're doing and have a bit of luck, strangling a bear or choking a leopard with its own tongue can be managed. Hands are very useful.
    • And in addition to that, humans weigh only around 120-185 pounds on average. 200 lb individuals are either born abnormally large or obese. To reinforce what's already been said, it's not something you can rely on. If you put an average human naked and tool-less into an empty featureless room with an equally-sized Komodo dragon and have the two engage in a fight to the death, my bets are on the Komodo dragon. The reason humans have been able to progress so far on a global scale is not because of their superior physiological attributes, it's because of their adaptability (in the sense of tool using, not biology.), social structures and intelligence. If humans were already extremely self-sufficient, hardy, and biologically adaptable like water bears or the Kvrk-Chk, we would have no need to create tools or societies to enable us to survive and progress.
    • An important thing to remember is the Kvrk-Chk declared war on everybody and a war with them would be horrific, in those circumstances a massive pre-emptive strike probably saved billions of lives. Also the 'single act or terrorism' was undertaken after they were warned that doing so would result in dire consequences. Imagine an entire species of cannibalistic terrorists who threatened to bomb or cities and eat the survivors alive and consider how hard we (the western world) have come down on terrorists.
    • I actually think that the Racconans would have been wiser to hit the Kvrk-chks' mother planet itself. Granted, the strike on "a densely populated system" inspired plenty of fear and respect. However, frying the home planet might have also taken out the nerve center of their totalitarian government, not to mention destroying the symbol and reality of the evolutionary pressures that made them so horrible to begin with. It's not like the Kvrk-chk could have gotten any more hostile, and doing that might have had a chance of actually creating a kinder, gentler Kvrk-chk Empire. Not a big chance, but still.
    • After the nerve center of their totalitarian government is space dust, who is there to reign in and stop the Kvrk-chks and their natural instincts of expansion and devouring? Naturally, their government of course... oh, that's space dust.
    • More to the point, the Empire of the Seven Systems really didn't like the idea of committing an actual genocide in the first place, even after the Kvrk-Chk captured a space liner and broadcast the resulting meal in living, realtime tri-d. Blowing up the species' homeworld, even assuming there aren't sufficient defenses in place to protect it, would be what Sun-Tzu called "dangerous ground". Sun-Tzu mentions it as a place you do not want to fight, since you effectively give your enemy a martyr the size and shape of their homeland to fight in the name of.
    • All a cultural formation requires is a degree of "Us vs. Them", and the Kvrk-Chk have that in spades. (Word of God states there are Kvrk-Chk of a less belligerent nature, and the ESS would like them to have a chance to live.) Likewise, tool use is a given — they hold roughly the position in their ecosystem that humans hold in theirs, meaning there are a lot of creatures out there that can and do devour Kvrk-Chk with relish.

    Sebak's witness 

  • How is it that the Confidantine Sebak hired was there to witness the "unforgivable sin", yet not there for Anippe's attack...or for Quentyn's arrival on the scene?
    • Word of God: she left BEFORE the clone regained consciousness.

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