Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Species Imperative

Go To

A door-stopping Sci-fi trilogy by Julie E. Czerneda, consisting of Survival, Migration, and Regeneration.

Sometime in the future, Earth has become part of the Interspecies Union, a thriving interstellar community connected by no-space transects and overseen by the Sinzi race. No war is permitted between species, making the series of mysterious disappearances of life along the Naralax Transect— which includes Earth— all the more alarming. No few researchers have compared these sudden barren zones to the lifeless Chasm worlds: an entire transect full of dead planets that once held life.


Enter Mackenzie "Mac" Connor, reluctant salmon biologist, who gets drawn into the whole mess.

Survival introduces us to Mac and fellow researcher Emily Mamani, pioneer of the new Tracer technology, at the start of a usual research season, only to be interrupted by the Dhryn, Brymn, and his handler, Nikolai Trojanowski. Nik, an apparent bureaucrat has come to ask Mac to help investigate the disappearances; Brymn has sought her out for answers of his own. Without warning, Emily is abducted by the Ro, the Dhryn species' oldest enemy, and Mac is rushed to their homeworld to prevent the same from happening to her. Here, answers finally start to fall into place.

Migration picks up the following year: Mac is returned to Earth only to be brought to the planet's IU Consulate to work in earnest, trying to find the reason behind what are now entire planets being stripped bare. Unfortunately, the real difficulty comes from convincing the people on her own side who the enemy is. Disaster is averted, yet not without losses, and a few vital gains.


Regeneration synopsis to come.

Needs a better description, and Needs Wiki Magic Love

This series provides examples of:

  • Alien Blood
  • Always Lawful Good: The Sinzi: Mind Hives who are "fundamentally prone to cooperation." It's considered a very good thing that they were the ones to find, manage, and even control the transects.
  • Apocalypse How: Type 6- the total destruction of all life on a world. The Chasm worlds suffered this in the past, leaving many worlds completely barren of life despite being capable of supporting it. Now it's happening again. The Dhryn- at least the Ro-modified Dhryn- scour entire planets bare of any life save themselves. The Ro want this to happen, so that they can reseed those worlds with their own species.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Portent and Encounter chapters read like this
  • Artificial Limbs: Mac's arm from the end of Survival onward
  • Advertisement:
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Most things designed by the Sinzi, including the Consulate walls, seem to be blank white. Or at least they do to humans, since through UV-sensitive eyes they're intricately painted
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Grimnoii look like giant, gloomy teddy bears with a love of sharp objects and getting hammered on cider
  • Bee People: The Dhryn, a non-insectoid example
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Czerneda is herself a biologist, and apparently had a lot of fun with this trope
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Several cases, but the Dhryn deserve special mention: Most of the population is apparently male, and they cut off their own hands and give them to the whale-sized, female Progenitors to somehow make little Dhryn oomlings
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Fourteen
  • Chekhov's Gun: Emily's Tracer
    • The salmon carving from the end of Migration
  • Common Tongue: Instella, a Conlang invented by the Sinzi to communicate with aliens. It has become the standard language for interspecies communication.
  • Cool Starship: The deceptively-named warship Annapolis Joy. Also, Sinzi darts, which are accused of bending the laws of physics
  • Ditzy Genius: Brymn, accomplished archaeologist and irrepressible tourist
  • Doorstopper: Each book runs 600+ pages
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Ro are a borderline case: Aliens who, millions of years ago, chose to live in no-space. They altered themselves biologically and became fused with their machines, treat time and space like playthings, and merely hearing one speak makes one feel like they're being ripped apart cell-by-cell
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Mackenzie Winifred Elizabeth Wright Connor
  • The Federation: The Interspecies Union
  • Henchmen Race: The Dhryn, modified by the Ro to wipe plants free of life
  • Hidden Depths: Charles Mudge III, who is introduced as a pure Obstructive Bureaucrat, only to become a rounded character
  • Human Aliens: IU consulate staff
  • Humanoid Aliens: Several species qualify. Mygs have a similar enough body structure to wear human clothes without too much trouble.
  • Hyperspace: No-space transects.
  • Important Haircut: In the first book, Mac losing her Braid of Sorrow in grathnu
  • Interspecies Romance: Discussed. Apparently most species aren't physically compatible, but humans are still rumored to have an Anything That Moves mentality
  • Metamorphosis: The Dhryn lifecycle. While most don't transform, Adults can "Flower" several ways: into Progenitors, Her Hands, or the Wasted.
  • Mind Hive: The Sinzi, who grow an extra set of eyes for each mind and refer to themselves in acronyms. Plus, their minds sleep in shifts, a handy trick when running an IU consulate
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Dhryn have three pairs of arms, plus an extra seventh arm that they use to cut off one of their regular arms in grathmu. The "dangerous" part of the trope is taken to new extremes with their feeder form, in which the arms end in extra mouths.
  • Oh My Gods!: Used verbatim by several humans
  • Precursors: The Ro pioneered No-space technology, which is now the crux of the Interspecies Union
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Nik pulls this from time to time
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The Imrya race's hat
  • Starfish Aliens: Almost every other species
  • Starfish Language: The Sinzi tongue