Saturday, March 26, 2011

Secret of the Ssú

The above image, a detail from the Richard Hescox illustrated cover for M.A.R. Barker’s 1985 novel Flamesong, features, aside from the curious green Ssú, a nice depiction of an ancient tube car.

You know how some folks really like a certain alien race or monster from Tékumel, like the Shén or Pé Choi; I have to admit  that I am absolutely crazy about the Ssú and I have some plans for them in Humanspace that go beyond being just some lasgun wielding interplanetary primitives pushed around by the armies of the Veritable Autocrator.

But what's up with the green Ssú ? According to an old Blue Room comment by Professor Barker:

 It is indeed reported by explorers of the southwestern seas beyond Livyánu that there are enclaves of greenish-grey and reddish-brown Ssú there. The same is said to be true of islands in the seas to the east of the farthest coasts of Salarvyyá (territory occupied by the jet-black humans called the Nom). These different kinds of Ssú are just as hostile and just as tough as the grey Ssú of Ssúyal. There were obviously various "races" of Ssú in ancient times, just as there are of us Terrans. The biggest and toughest are the Black Ssú, who dwell on an island off the western coast of the Tane region far beyond the Plain of Towers.


  1. The Ssu are my favorite fantasy baddies too. Smarter and scarier than nasty orces, they made me have a new appreciation of cinnamon and wind chimes.

  2. I'm a fan of the Ssu, but all of Barker's nonhumans are great.

  3. It's that musty cinnamon smell and sweet chimes that I love too, superficially benign-sounding which of course adds to their sinister cast. I feel like I remember reading somewhere in the Blue Room archives that the Ssu may have had some limited spacecraft abilities.

  4. @School Master: In space no one can hear Ssú chime...btw...did you make it to GaryCon? If the playtest comes off I look forward to a report...

    @Trey: Agreed, the professor sure came up with some cool aliens.

    @ckutalik: I think its canon that the Ssú had interplanetary(but not interstellar) spaceships and energy weapons...they were advanced but no where near the level of Humanspace.

  5. The Drune: I"m there right now and just finished a play test game. More to come later.

  6. It would be interesting to read the exploits of nobel Ssu heroes fighting a losing war against the horrific outworld demons from a twisted sort of pulp scifi way...


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