A theory on the ecology.
It's an entire trophic pyramid in .zip form. The plagues were the first step; viral agents to integrate alien DNA into terrestrial flora and fauna. At first, every single one either killed the infected organisms or was killed by
the immune responses of those organisms, then they found a foothold. Retrovirally mutated single-celled organisms then begat alien bacteria. Alien bacteria consumed each other — along with terrestrial bacteria — to produce multicellular organisms. Each set consumed all surrounding life of its complexity and below. The shambler trees were simply a final stage capable of producing every other element of the ecology like an assembly line. The organic equivalent of Grey Goo
; except it doesn't just create goo, it creates entire worlds.
- Except that by book four, they work out that shambler trees probably did drop to Earth from space, and in-turn made a lot of the other races. That is not to say, however, that at least some Chtorran species aren't simply Terran species that got mutated by alien viruses.
- According to The Other Wiki, that idea was just the personal hypothesis of McCarthy himself.
A hypothesis on the masterminds
The article for this franchise on The Other Wiki
has a list of all the various Chtorran organisms, and a description for each.. but then it has an additional entry that simply reads "God-Bees
What comes after the worms." I cannot find any information on these aside from this one line from this one specific internet page (all other google results reference the Other Wiki article), so I'm guessing that it edited into there by someone in the actual Estate of David Gerrold, based on some note of his they found. anyway, here's my hypothesis: The God-Bees are scary dogmatic Sufficiently Advanced Aliens
who run on Bizarre Alien Psychology
. They run on an "Eat or be eaten" philosophy, so they have set up an Interstellar Empire
of sorts where they drag their native ecosystem around the universe to "Eat" other civilizations and ecosystems in more ways than one. Look at the process of eating something: you are taking something separate from yourself and breaking it down into it's component molecules for the raw materials necessary to perform maintenance and upkeep on your various bits and pieces; you are assimilating
it so that it becomes part of yourself. At first there was you and
the hamburger, but now the burger has become a part of you. So that's what they're doing. They're looking for planets that harbor sapient life, so they can send their ecosystem there to have the eating of a human by a gastropede, the eating of earth's ecosystem by that of the God-Bees, as well as the "eating" of humans as a species by the Chtorran ecology via the process of bunnymenification/libbitification. Additionally, when you eat the hamburger, it has, From a Certain Point of View
, become human, and has thus been uplifted. So there might be an element of that in the God-Bees' mentality as well: by becoming bunnymen/libbits and then being eaten by a gastropede, which is then eaten by a God-Bee, we are being uplifted into becoming God-Bees in our own right
Once all Earth life has been eaten by chtorran life and all humans have been made bunnymen/libbits, God-Bee colonists will move in to live here, and the Bunnymen/libbits will have become fully Chtorran, to the point that the next invaded planet's shambler trees will pop out bunneymen and libbits in addition to gastropedes and jellypigs and the like. How many of the organisms we see were OG Chtorran and how many were Eaten from other worlds? Who knows? There might even be a character remarking that it doesn't really matter anymore.