Lovecraft Sketch MWF: The Great Race of Yith

Lovecraft Sketch MWF: The Great Race of Yith

Not that I’m any great shakes at designing aliens, but one small thing that bothers me, design-wise, about Lovecraft’s ‘civilized’ alien races (the Old Ones and the Great Race), is that they seem to lack any way to lift heavy objects. Sure, they have technology (and in the case of the Old Ones, slaves) but what did they do to take care of the place & carry groceries before they developed that technology? The Old Ones have little teeny-weeny weakish-looking tentacles (maybe they can exert a lot of pressure when you put them together, but still) and the Great Race have limbs growing out of the tops of cones — not the best way to get leverage. My solution to this was to decide that, perhaps, their ‘cone’ is really divided on the inside into four approximately equal segments, and the muscle or cellular tissue of the limb runs all the way down to the core of the cone at the bottom, instead of just sticking out of the top. Instead, like a snail’s eyestalk or a turtle’s head, we’re just seeing a small portion of it which is extended. The brain or core of the Great Race, then, would be located towards the bottom of the central cone, where all the powerful muscles of expansion and contraction are located.

For comparison, here’s my drawing of the Great Race’s enemies, the flying polyps. The flying polyps are free from the constraints of gravity, but (in my vision) they’re basically worm-shaped, or shaped like branching worms — a great twisting writhing floating branch. When I reread “The Shadow Out of Time”, I noticed the part where it’s said that the Great Race breed their young in tanks or vats, kind of like playpens, I assume. But I’m sure that now and then, one of them gets out of the tank and runs around and cause mischief.

It’s Monday, and over at King of RPGs, a new storyline with Theo and Shesh is brewing! And if you’re interested, I do commissioned sketches!

Discussion (9)¬

  1. another jason says:

    In the case of the Great Race, the bodies you’re talking about weren’t their original bodies. They transferred to them after they had evolved. So they would already have the technical know-how to develop whatever machines they needed to do the heavy lifting.

  2. SteveED says:

    As AJ points out the Great Race are really just the mentalities transferring across time and space to different bodies. I’d like to see your rendering of the “beetle” forms that they take right after this “slug” form.

    The two large claws are for moving large heavy objects, not fine manipulation. They perform fine dexterity tasks using the delicate tendrils on their eye-head. I like how you drew the 4-pointed claws and the sensor head.

    The body is not plated, but is more slug like, HPL compares them to “gastropods” only in the slug sense, not the snail, limpet, abalone sense.

    They are also over 12 feet tall, so they are not weak.

  3. SteveED says:

    Also, a Yithian makes a cameo appearance on Futurama in Season 1

  4. another jason says:

    Good call, SteveED. I’ve seen the episode many times but never realized it was a Yithian!

  5. Jason says:

    @SteveED – Interesting idea, a more wet-looking, nudibranch-like design might be good. Nudibranches certainly have all kinds of crazy sensory organs and feelers sticking out of their bodies…

    @another jason – You’re right, they didn’t evolve in this form, and who knows what the bodies they originally inhabited looked like?Interesting possibilities… For their arms, I just think that arms don’t look sufficiently powerful coming out of an area as small as the apex of a cone, but maybe that’s just my artistic inability. Maybe if they had arms like cranes, that literally hung over objects to pick them up…

  6. another jason says:

    Jason: Maybe think of something like an octopus. Those tentacles are amazingly strong. I’m not sure if it was ever specified whether the Yithians had any sort of endoskeleton. But if they did, I can see the arms being very strong even if they were just tentacles proceeding from a central point.

  7. Wyvern says:

    In terms of the physical strength and abilities of Lovecraft’s alien races, it’s worth remembering what the Old Ones accomplished at the human Antarctic camp (albeit attributed to the insane Gedney) in “At The Mountains of Madness” after they’d thawed out a little. The seeming frailty of such creatures being wholly deceptive simply adds to the horror, of course.

    Curious that the Yithians were described as somewhat like the “Doctor Who” Daleks – conical, legless base moving in an unusual gliding fashion, eyestalk on top with two or three other extensible arms from near the top too. I don’t recall anyone suggesting the Daleks were influenced by Lovecraft’s Great Race, so maybe there’s something in the human psyche that finds such features generally unsettling.

  8. @Wyvern – now that you mention it, the Great Race *are* a bit Dalek-shaped! And you’re right, clearly the Old Ones are far physically superior to any humans. They obviously have incredible strength in those iron-wirey little tentacles.

  9. Night-Gaunt says:

    Daleks are very different from the Yith. Originally humanoid they were altered into single eyed tentacular blobs that ride inside the Dalek units. Immensely intelligent but ruthless and unfeeling. Yith are totally organic an have characteristics of the plant within. Their conical bodies are cone shaped, dark green, wrinkled and scaly. I see the Yith-Quaduddu evolving from the Edicara Period (635-541mya.) The Yith found them ready to use. They are so alien to the life forms of 150 mya and yet their technology keeps them alive and flourishing.