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The Sandkings by George RR MartinEdit
George RR. Martin sets the story at an alternate universe. In the story Simon Kress, a wealthy extravagant man who lives on a planet called Baldur indulges himself with the weird and exotic. He comes across a mysterious store in the city of Asgard (some 200 kilometers from his home) called Wo and Shade in his search for a replacement pet. The owner of the store Wo, eventually shows him a container filled with the Sandkings. She mentions that these creatures are of unknown origins. (Martin, 1986)
Appearances in other literary workEdit
The sandkings also appeared in "The Outer Limits" series in its first episode. In the show, the sandkings have the same characteristics as that of George RR. Martin's book. The difference is that here, the Sandkings come from Mars whereas in the book they are of undisclosed origins. (Snodgrass, 1995)
Although the sandkings may seem to be a colony with each individual being independent of the other, they are actually described as having a hive-mind. That single semi-sentient being is also known as a Maw as stated by the owner of the store Simon Kress bought the creatures from- Wo and Shade.
This single Maw controls thousands and maybe even millions of little sandkings called mobiles because they are the only ones that move around. Wo and Shade sells them in sets of four placed in a huge terrarium like case complete with feeder, hologram projector and sand. They are transported as eggs and eventually hatch into differently colored sandkings- much like the different races of the earth. These differently colored sandkings wage wars and forms alliances with each other as they grow and multiply. Wo mentions that sandkings are sort of misnomers especially seen the mobiles are really just warriors and peasants the only king is the one hidden inside the castle controlling every single one of them.Religion also plays an important part in a sandkings life. In fact, Wo convinces Simon Kress that they are more than just insects like bees and ants because of their ability to worship a god. That God can be anyone as long as their image has been seen by the sandkings one point in their life. Wo's suggestion is to project an image of the owner once the sandkings are just starting to grow and develop. Their method of worship is to carve the face of whoever they see on the castles they reside in on the corners of their tank as well as place offerings on their idols. (Martin, 1986)
Anatomy and Life CycleEdit
George RR Martin describes two main stages of a Sandking's life and the pupal stage at one point in the transition. Between these stages, the sandkings change in size and sometimes changed in form though none were described as detailed as the first and last stages. Although there can be changes in between each level, the development changes between the three are the most remarkable. Generally sandkings have six limbs, a head, thorax, and a maw as their "mind". These creatures are also semi-sentient but as they go through the phases of metamorphosis, their intelligence levels grow, especially that of the Maw, to sapient levels. (Martin, 1986)
- Wo describes the appearance of the first stage of Sandkings as having the foremost legs double as arms. These arms also have small finger like tendrils- three to be specific and each is controlled by the Maw. The mobiles eat mostly pap- predigested food within the castle. The Maw eats almost anything. Simon Kress likes to feed his sandkings cute little puppies and animals. (Martin, 1986)
- One of the many pupal stages describe in the short story was the stage before the final form of the sandkings that Simon Kress had seen. These were characterized by Simon Kress as immobile. Their eyes were black and glassy and their bodies were swollen as if something was rotting inside, filling up with gas as if something was pushing their colored plates of armor outward. When felt, the thing seemed a little hot and gets a hotter as time progresses. Inside the shell was the same color as it's armor. It looked almost the same as the outer layer only softer looking, swollen and feverish. The insect was throbbing inside. (Martin, 1986)
- The final stage of the sandkings are different for every Maw. Wo told Simon Kress that they adapt to change the forms of their mobiles to adapt to their needs. It is also said that they will most likely be bipeds with four arms capable of handling advanced machinery . Wo continues by saying the individual sandkings will not be sentient but the Maws will be very sentient indeed. At this level, the Sandking's growth also plateaus therefore suggesting that it is the final stage of the alien's cycle.(Martin, 1986)
It is unclear how the reproductive capabilities of the sandkings work. Speculations arise that just like bees and ants, there are certain members of the community meant only for the reproductive purposes. What is clear though is the description Wo gives in reaction to Simon calling the first stages of the Sandkings as infants. She replies to him: "Don't be absurd. A first stage sandking is more like a sperm than an infant"(Martin 1986) suggesting that there is a possibility that in order to reproduce, these mobiles are to be absorbed by the final stage maw or even the first staged maws. (Martin, 1986)
All information regarding the Sandkings were taken from George RR Martin's Book Sandkings and the show the The Outerlimit #1: The Sandkings
- Martin, George R.R. Sandkings. New york: Baen, 1986. Print
- Snodgrass, Melinda M. "The Sandkings." The Outer Limits. Dir. Stuart Gillard. 26 Mar. 1995 Television