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"What Alien Species Is THIS?" Topic

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Cacique Caribe27 Sep 2017 10:04 p.m. PST

Ok. Here's a little challenge. A mystery if you will.

The signature clearly reads "Kenneth Smith", but I don't think the picture is of the beings AE van Vogt called the "Slan", because those were supposed to be humanoids that could pass as average humans:

So the insectoid-looking alien that I'm really curious about must be something else.

The same Kenneth Smith Illustration shows up yet again on the cover of a 1971 SF/Fantasy anthology, but I can't for the life of me figure out which story it's supposed to be tied to, or if it even goes with any of them at all.

So, does anyone here have any idea what the insectoid alien pictured is supposed to be? Was there ever a story written about them?





Cacique Caribe27 Sep 2017 10:49 p.m. PST

This might just be a coincidence, but I've found this ink drawing by the same artist, Kenneth Smith, that looks pretty close to the one used on the book cover.




Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 10:50 p.m. PST

They're from a story by Raccoona Sheldon. That illustration, or one quite close, is on the cover of his Horror anthology. In the story they plot the invasion of earth: no more unless you want me to spoil it. Called "The Screwfly Solution", if you haven't yet read it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Cacique Caribe27 Sep 2017 10:53 p.m. PST

Wow! I'm going to look it up and see if I can get hold of a copy to read.

Thank you Sir!

PS. "Raccoona" really? That's a hilarious name! I love it.

Cacique Caribe27 Sep 2017 11:01 p.m. PST

Hmm. Weird. It looks like Sheldon first published her story in June 1977, which means that Kenneth Smith's Illustration predates it by almost a decade (sketch done in 1969, painting in 1971).

PS. Also it looks like the Illustration on the cover has different initials, so another artist was working on Sheldon's project.


Pendekar27 Sep 2017 11:31 p.m. PST

I think the story can be found here:

It looks like it was made into a TV episode of "Masters of Horror" in 2006. Don't click this link if you don't want the spoilers ochoin mentioned…

I think I will read it later, it looks interesting. And I can't comment on the tv version, maybe I will try to find a copy to watch.

I think they would make some cool alien miniatures though…

Cacique Caribe28 Sep 2017 12:01 a.m. PST


The short story by Sheldon does sound very intriguing, but it looks like the alien insect creature drawn by Kenneth Smith in 1969 and 1971 must have originally been for something else from almost a decade before Sheldon's "Screwfly Solution" was first published in 1977.



Mike Target28 Sep 2017 1:23 a.m. PST

Isnt the answer in your wiki link you provided? it describes TWO types of slan- one which can pass as Human, and one that really really guess its suppposed to be the latter…

Cacique Caribe28 Sep 2017 1:36 a.m. PST

Both Slan species were humanoid. The ones with antennae-like "tendrils" on their heads, just like Trek's Andoreans, still looked mostly human (see other covers below).

So Kenneth Smith's alien insectoid illustration must have had a different story behind it altogether, but it somehow ended up adorning the cover of a novel were there no insectoid aliens, as a cheap marketing trick by the publisher.

I wonder if Smith's insectoid was originally meant for an earlier novel that never got published. Or maybe Terry Carr's 1971 New World's of Fantasy anthology did have a story about them, and I have yet to discover which one that is.

By the way, a long time ago I started sculpting an alien with multiple limbs but I never got very far with it. Seeing Smith's insectoid brought back my memories of that little project:






The Beast Rampant28 Sep 2017 6:35 a.m. PST

Everything about that 6/77' SciFi Analog says "Women's Issue".

Apparently, the "mothman's prophesy" is: get your wife power tools for her birthday, you spend the night on the couch. He looks so thoughtful.

These covers are great. grin

Hafen von Schlockenberg28 Sep 2017 6:40 a.m. PST

Very droll recommendation there,Ochoin. Very droll.

Hafen von Schlockenberg28 Sep 2017 7:02 a.m. PST

"Racoona" was of course a pseudonym,probably inspired by the "mask" element,an obsession for the author. Real name Alice. She came to prominence as "James Tiptree, Jr.",the name under which Screwfly was originally published. The "persona" was of a middle aged man, ex-Army,EX-CIA officer. All of these were true,as it turned out,except for the man part.


You can Wiki,but here's SFE:


There's a 2006 biography:


Cacique Caribe28 Sep 2017 11:48 a.m. PST

I once met a girl named Raccoona
Who wanted to move to Laguna …

I'm stuck. Maybe someone else wants to finish the limerick.


Covert Walrus28 Sep 2017 11:55 a.m. PST

The Beast Rampant, just for the record:

1. Yes, that was an all-female author edition of ANALOG. Though all of the authors were frequently in the magazine before and after, it was to highlight the fact that there were many talented women in the field in the 1970s.

2. The character depicted on the cover is the *FEMALE* protagonist of Joan Vinge's award-winning story "Eyes Of Amber", seen with the Earth probe that landed on her home world of Titan, the moon of Saturn.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2017 12:58 p.m. PST

At lest into the 1970's, it was the practice of certain paperback SF publishers to buy art at conventions and then use it for a book it might--or might not--go with. I have no instance of someone using the same cover for two different books in the same country, but the same artwork might be used for different books in a different market, and that "Slan" cover is not a US edition. "Serien" suggests a German-speaking country, but I can't make sense of the abbreviation next to 3.95.

So, sorry guys, it probably got slapped on a German translation of Slan because the publisher already owned the illustration, and nothing to do with the story.I've seen the same cover on different books in the US and the UK before from the same period.

Still better than some of the old high abstract Berkeley Medallion covers.

Zephyr128 Sep 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

"I'm stuck. Maybe someone else wants to finish the limerick."

I could, but I don't want to be DH'd… ;-)

dsfrank28 Sep 2017 3:29 p.m. PST

you could always read the book to find out

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2017 3:38 p.m. PST

I am tempted to model that in 3D. The alien, not the female authors.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2017 4:54 p.m. PST

Good call, Bashytubits. I suspect on balance our alien figures are more realistic than our females. Some of those poor girls Tango finds on the Net ought to have forks like an early musket.

Not that I don't look, of course.

ds, did you not read, or did you not believe? An SF cover of that vintage might have an alien on the cover and not even have an alien in the story, let alone one which matched the cover. I don't think reading Slan in German will get an alien into the story. If it does, it's he translator you want to speak to.

Romance/Gothic publishers did the same thing, by the way. I kept for many years a Gothic which showed a brunette in a filmy nightgown running away from a castle with a single light in a window.

I kept it because the heroine was a blonde, and the setting was a sheep ranch in Australia.

Cacique Caribe28 Sep 2017 7:48 p.m. PST

You mean there aren't any castles in Australia? Surely someone would have built one by now.


Stryderg28 Sep 2017 8:00 p.m. PST

I once met a girl named Raccoona
Who wanted to move to Laguna …

She packed all her bags
but instead of a zig, she zagged
and ended up maroona'd.

Cacique Caribe28 Sep 2017 8:43 p.m. PST


It sure would be nice to have a few 15mm poses of that alien (on Kenneth Smith's paining). A small raiding party of a dozen or so?

I wonder what could be used to represent clear helmets though. That big helmet alone is about half the height of the alien.



Cacique Caribe29 Sep 2017 2:12 a.m. PST


How's this, to get an idea of scale, if one were to make it for combat against 15mm humans?

Like I suspected, the globe of his helmet would be about 10mm across.




Personal logo chicklewis Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2017 6:10 a.m. PST

That chameleon-eyed alien really looks like he means business.

Legion 430 Sep 2017 6:58 a.m. PST

I can't ID any of those "Bugs" … but they need to be "terminated with extreme prejudice" … wink

"Nuc'm from orbit … it's the only way to be sure …" evil grin

Hafen von Schlockenberg30 Sep 2017 8:28 a.m. PST

Give'em the old "brass shower"?

Cacique Caribe30 Sep 2017 11:38 a.m. PST

Is this better for you guys, with the helmet "removed", to appreciate the facial detail?




Personal logo chicklewis Supporting Member of TMP01 Oct 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

Great stuff with the helmet removed !!

Cacique Caribe04 Nov 2017 1:24 p.m. PST

Glad you like that one. The helmet was distracting me from the detail of the face, so I opted for just a simple outline instead.


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