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Literature / Les Xipéhuz

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One of the oldest examples of Science Fiction, "Les Xipéhuz" is a short story by J.H. Rosny. It tells the story of some tribes of people in paleolithic times who face an unknown enemy which isn't human.


  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Xipéhuz wipe out everything in their way.
  • Alien Invasion: It's not sure if the invaders are alien, but they certainly aren't organic lifeforms as we know them.
  • Ancient Astronauts: If the Xipéhuz ware indeed aliens.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Some mystics form one when they realize that humanity is doomed.
    From this anguish the mystics created a bleak cult, a cult of death preached by pale prophets, the cult of Shadows stronger than the Stars, Shadows that came to engulf and devour the Holy Light, the resplendent fire.

    Everywhere on the edges of the wilderness, one encountered the emaciated silhouettes of initiates, silent men who periodically wandered amongst the tribes, relating their awful dreams, the Twilight of the imminent great Night and the Death of the Sun
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  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Xipéhuz are crystal-like cones or cylinders with a light on one side which they use for communication and combat and which is also their weak point.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Every solstice and equinox, the Xipéhuz gather in groups of three, merge into some kind of ellipsoid and stay this way over night. The next day, they part and leave giant smoky forms which become denser and form into cones much bigger than the adult Xipéhuz before shrinking into their adult forms.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: While it's clear that the Xipéhuz percieve their environment, Bakhoûn never finds out, how they do it, as they have no visible sensory organs and know about humans and other Xipéhuz even if there is something between them.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: It's never explained why the Xipéhuz destroy everything in their way.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: It's not sure what the Xipéhuz are, but they seem indestructible at first and threaten to wipe out mankind
    • Lovecraft Lite: Later, the Xipéhuz are wiped out by the humans
  • Death Ray / Disintegrator Ray: What the Xipéhuz use to kill animals.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Xipéhuz seem like this to the humans. Later in the story, they become less incomprehensible, but still Starfish Aliens.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Though they wipe out humans seemingly unprovoked, the Xipéhuz mostly spare women and children.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Bakhoûn already has 30 children at the start of the story and is a very good archer and some kind of proto-scientist.
  • For the Evulz: It seems the Xipéhuz kill just for fun, as they never eat what they kill.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: What the humans do to the Xipéhuz to make sure that the Xipéhuz don't do it to them. Only Bakhoûn wishes there was a peaceful solution, but he doesn't find one.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Bakhoûn laments that they wiped out the Xipéhuz instead of making peace with them.
  • Living Polyhedron: The Xipéhuz come in three different geometric shapes.
    First came a great ring of translucent bluish cones with their pointed ends upright, each perhaps half the size of a man. Bright stripes and dark spirals streaked their surfaces. Each bore a star at its base, dazzling as the noonday sun.

    Stranger still were the flat slabs that rose behind them, streaked with multicolored ellipses in patterns like birch bark. Here and there among these were other nearly cylindrical Shapes, one thin and tall, another low and squat, all brazen-hued and speckled with green, and all having the same characteristic point of light as the striped Shapes.
  • Outside-Context Problem: For paleolithic humans, some non-organic creatures made from crystal with lasers are quite a Outside-Genre Foe
  • Polyamory: Bakhoûn has four wives, but it isn't treated as anything special by his people.
  • Rock Beats Laser: The Xipéhuz have some kind of heat ray, but in the end, they are wiped out by stone/bronze age humans.
  • Starfish Aliens: Although it isn't sure if they are aliens, the Xipéhuz are the first incomprehensible creatures in all of Science Fiction.
  • Starfish Language: The Xipéhuz communicate by drawing symbols onto each other with their lasers.
  • Stone Punk: The story is about paleolithic/mesolithic humans fighting what might be aliens.
  • Trope Maker: For Starfish Aliens. According to some commentators, it is the Trope Maker for Science Fiction in general, although there are some older, less typical examples.

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