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Sam Starfall

Finally managed to get an hour leeway in my schedule, so here's something on Sam. Again, everything not in italics is quoted from Mark.

Any similarity to a sock puppet named Lamb Chop is purely coincidental, and thinking about it too much has caused multiple instances of hearing her voice whenever reading Sam's lines. It's probably a good thing I have no idea who she is.

I think part of the reason I like the Sqid name is because of the spelling. Squid, except U don't want to be anyplace near Sam.

I should explain a little bit on why Sam is like what he is. To give him a personality, I had to sit down and work out where he came from. I used the Earth Octopus as the jump off point. Tentacles are good for pulling, but have almost no push strength at all. There's always evolutionary pressure. What would happen with an octopus that was forced to move onto land to survive? With no internal skeleton, hydraulics could be used (Like spiders do, using blood pressure to make the legs extend), or they could start to use tools to make their own “artificial” skeletons.

In the beginning, tools would be “foraged”. No real work, just whatever natural stones or sticks in the right shape they could find. Like penguins with limited rocks, an advantage would go not only to those land squids who could find good tools, but also to those who could take the tools others had already found. Where as humans had to worry about theft once they developed agriculture, the land squids evolved with theft from their earliest evolution.

Octopi have big brains, good motor skills, but short lives. Both sexes die shortly after mating. So another little tweak was involved. If a number of the squids were sterile and didn't try to reproduce, they would have longer life spans. The society would split into those that would produce young and die young, and those that would grow to be old codgers, but not produce any offspring.

There are never enough kids to go around. Imagine how things would be here for child labor if you could go out and grab unclaimed kids. (And claimed ones, if the parent isn't looking.) It's a bit more chaotic to raise a child on Sam's world than on Earth. The ones who survive do get wiser and trickier.

Now you have some competition. The shorter lived squids competing with their longer lived brethren. Life is always about scarcity of resources. Even in abundant places, life will expand to make resources scarce. The sterile squids don't contribute to future populations, they don't have their genes carry on. There's no reason for them to act for anything but their own short term gain. (Okay, there is the “altruism” factor that works in sacrifice for closely related beings. But that occurs in species that produce a few offspring, not thousands.) So how could it ever be an advantage to have squids like this around?

For this, the answer is dispersal. If the sterile ones have “wanderlust” and go to other squids' areas and mess them up, the fertile squids that produce these sterile “saboteurs” would have the advantage just by messing up their neighbors. As for the wanderers, skills to blend in and avoid detection for the saboteur squid would be necessary. But you don't want them to blend in to such an extent where they are helpful to the community they go to. That would undercut the whole “Move and sabotage” advantage to the original colony. It also gives the weird sort of pride that if you have a particularly successful saboteur, he'd be a home town hero, even if the home town didn't want him back.

It was from this that Sam's personality came out. My own opinion of him isn't as an evil being. From a comedy stand point, Sam is the easiest character to write for. His goals and motivations are close enough to human that people can figure out what he's up to, but they don't fit well into how we think society should go.

Sam is probably closest to an octopus combined with a lamprey. I will have to show a shot of an arm or a leg with the suit off so the armatures are visible that Sam manipulates with his tentacles to give the appearance that he's humanoid. Physically, he's cool blooded (My own word. Maintains body temperature within 10 degrees Celsius of a setpoint), requires a 40 percent oxygen atmosphere (his suit isn't air tight, and the backpack is an oxygen concentrator), and the species evolved in a wetter climate than humans.

Sam's race is a bit like the Lungfish in that they can encyst themselves in harsh times. (In their own society, this also gives the ability to lie low for a decade or so.) It's dangerous, and fifty percent of the ones who encyst don't survive. Sam did sneak on board the human ship, encysted due to lack of oxygen (Only 21 percent oxygen in human atmospheres, too low for Sam's race to remain conscious), and was found when the ship was already back in human space.

Anything that shortens reaction time is usually a good thing, and putting the sense organs near the brain is has been a sound survival tactic. I haven't decided if I should go “squid evolution” where the eyes evolved from skin cells or “mammal evolution” where the eyes evolved from brain cells for him yet.

Sam's real name is a modulated electric signal. His species uses vocalization for simple warnings, but they need to get close to communicate beyond that. (In having fun with alien designs, figured why should ever intelligent species use modulated sound waves to communicate?)

Sam's filters are foam. Air filters need to be dry to work. Water or oil clogs the filter by not allowing air flow through those points. Sam's biology isn't as efficient as a mammals, and with water exhalation in a semi closed suit, dehumidifying is needed more than a humidifier. (Its pure guesswork if an intelligent dinosaur would have arisen without Mr. Asteroid coming to visit. But it did allow another 65 million years to practice cellular biochemistry. Sam's planet never had a “killer asteroid” hit, and is dealing with less advanced cellular systems.)

Oxygen is common, and a pretty good energy source. Sam's chemistry needed to be fairly close to Terran if I didn't want to have all the complications of different amino acids. Keeping things simple, the suit doesn't have to be tightly sealed. Just keep it as a positive pressure.

Sam's biochemistry is not as efficient as a mammals, and has less strength with even more oxygen available to him.

Sam's survival chances increased greatly by getting off [his home] planet. The royal family is not too happy with him due to an incident involving a zeppelin, a “Loop the loop” maneuver, and pudding. Lots and lots of pudding.

Sam sees more in the blue green end of the spectrum, better for seeing under water.

Sam's race is a long way removed from the sea creatures he evolved from. They can't even swim any more, unless they have something inflatable, or a set of “Swimming bones”, they sink. There are still a lot of them who ply the sea trades, but the closest thing they have to swimming is like our kayaking.

Sam enjoys the eating far more than the cooking. His choice of ingredients is about the same for a meal, he just likes them aged a bit more. This was in response to a question on if Sam would like the Vet's cooking.

Sam's planet is considerably more primitive than where he is now. About Victorian steam age. So the 50 kg of diamonds he conned Niomi and Tangent for would be valuable on his planet.

Beekay (The sounds the initials B.K. make when you say them. Short for bunny killer, since he goes under the furniture, and like a living dust mop, kills all the dust bunnies) likes biting Sam more for the noises he makes than the taste. (Cheap environment suit.)

Sam's suit is wetter on the inside than the outside normally. The suit isn't airtight, but concentrates oxygen like the previous post says. But mostly he was wearing it because he's less identifiable in a rainsuit (at least when running away) than his normal blue environment suit would be. Why Sam was wearing a raincoat during the hurricane.

If you saw Sam's “bones” when he wasn't in them, they would look a bit like a jointed stick man. He has to pull on all the parts with his tentacles to get them to move, and they run through all the parts of his “body”. (Though he can withdraw them if he chooses.)

The “bones” that make up Sam's acquired skeleton are the things that are most stolen among his species. Sam may be able to better navigate in micro gravity without them, but he would never willingly give them up.

Why does a squidlike alien need underwear and socks? Because it's funny. He also needs a type of underwear to keep his external “skeleton” from chafing, and to help keep him from sticking to the inside of his environment suit.

Sam wears a scarf because his helmet seal leaks and it hasn't been fixed yet. From a “under the hood” look, it's because he looks more like a WW1 pilot that way.

Like anything else, Sam occasionally needs to clean off, and that is why the shower stall was there. (Just needs a breathing mask, and showers at night.)

Swiping things is Sam's normal state. He has to work against his nature NOT to borrow unattended objects.

Sam also likes bad movies, but would also read rap sheets, and would keep up on the latest scams to see what he could adapt for his own use.

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