Saturday, 17 September 2016

Relative Sizes

Fabulous or fictional beings may be bigger, smaller or the same size as human beings. Thus:

giants, Brobdingnagians and Merseians are bigger;
dwarves, Lilliputians and Cynthians are smaller;
folkloric elves shrank in stature and significance but Tolkien and Anderson restored them to human size and semi-divine status.

"Hirharouk [an Ythrian] stood some 150 centimeters tall." (David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 646)

- whereas Morruchan Long-Ax:

"...big even for a Merseian...overtopped Falkayn's rangy height by a good fifteen centimeters." (p. 213)

We think of these beings in relation to ourselves but how do they appear to each other? What if a Lilliputian were to visit Brobdingnag? What does a Cynthian make of a Merseian? Chee Lan thinks:

"Those Merseians were so bloody big!
"She herself was no larger than a medium-sized dog..." (p. 225)

Visiting a Merseian house, she must squat on a low table because the Merseians squat on their tails and do not use chairs. Poul Anderson describes interactions not only between human beings and aliens but also between different species of aliens.

When Larry Niven adapted a Known Space short story as a Star Trek animated TV episode, a kzinti captain had to deal with three Star Fleet officers whose order of seniority was Spock, Uhura and Sulu. However, Spock was a vegetarian and Uhura was female so the kzin could only speak to Sulu.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

A Lilliputian would scarcely be even NOTICEABLE by a Brobdingnagian!

Don't forget the dwarves of THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS. The dwarf Hugi is described there as not quite three feet in height. The impression I got was that being the average height of Hugi's people.

And of course JRR Tolkien's hobbits in THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS averaged about four feet in height (a really TALL hobbit would be about 4.5 feet).