The K’ul’s blue blood isn’t just arbitrary: there are animals on earth with blue blood, like octopuses and spiders…you know, things with eight legs. Like the K’ul.
These animals have blue blood because the oxygen transportation mechanism in their blood is based on hemocyanin, a copper based protein, rather than hemoglobin, the iron-based protein used by mammals. Copper+oxygen=blue, while iron+oxygen=red.
(Yes, I know that there is no connection between hemocyanin and having eight legs. I just thought it was a cool coincidence that all the eight-legged animals on earth happen to have blue blood, so I decided to give my eight-limbed aliens blue blood as well.)
I bring this up because if you had forgotten that K’ul blood is blue, then you might not understand why in the world of Half-Man the absolute worst, most derogatory term you can use for a person who was born in the core is a “blueblood.”
You know, because it was already a term for someone born to wealth and privilege, but because the K’ul have blue blood…yeah, okay, you get it.
The corresponding absolute worst, most derogatory term for someone from the edge is a “rimjob.” I trust that requires no explanation. The gentler, not quite PC but more commonly used terms, the words that no one is going to punch you for, are “oldworlder” and “edger.”
I wanted to talk about all this because A) making up fictional insults is fun, and B) because I haven’t gotten to get into the core/edge dynamic in the world of Half-Man nearly as much as I want to. The actual plot keeps taking precedence. So I’m indulging myself by talking about it here. I’m really excited about this stuff, and want to share.
One of the interesting things about all this is that thirty years ago (in Half-Man time, not real time) it was all different. I mean, yes, there was still a core/edge dynamic. Classism is a thing; it never really goes away. But thirty years ago, people from the edge had more of a mixed image. Yes, they were mostly poorer then people from the core. And they were generally thought of as being less educated, with worse teeth and more BO. But they were frontiersmen and women, and there’s something respectable about that.
It takes guts to go out on the very edge of the unknown and try to wrestle a living out of the wilderness, risking your life to forge a better one. Even the rich people, who have a huge personal stake in equating wealth to value, have to respect the bravery, the sheer audacity, of people who will say, “Sure, I’ll go to an alien planet full of unknown beasts, plants, diseases and weather conditions and try to build a home there. Why not?” That takes balls.
Then the K’ul came. And everything changed.
Before the K’ul, when people talked about “edgers” they were talking about anyone who lived on the edge of the rapidly expanding sphere of human civilization. But after the first K’ul attack twenty-eight years ago, everyone pretty much stopped paying attention to any part of the edge that wasn’t bordering K’ul territory. “Edger” suddenly became a term for the people directly in the line of fire, the people who were getting slaughtered.
Which maybe sounds like it should have been a term of respect, or even just pity. But it wasn’t. Because people were afraid. Humanity lost so many planets in those first few years, so many people died, that everyone was terrified. And to people living in the core, one of the only things they could do to make themselves feel better was to distance themselves from the people who were dying. “It’s not us, it’s them. This couldn’t happen to me, I’m not an edger. Edgers are barely even real people.”
I’m not saying that they actually said these things out loud. But they THOUGHT them. Consciously or subconsciously, nearly everyone in the core was thinking this way. If you don’t think that sounds likely, then I give you this challenge: pick a war zone, anywhere in the world that is a good distance from where you live. Think about the people who are dying there. Think, really think, about why that doesn’t terrify you. I expect you’ve just come up with some reason, or a lot of reasons, why those people are different from you, why this is happening to them and couldn’t happen to you.
But they aren’t different from you. They’re just people.
Okay, that got way dark. Um…I guess we need a moment of thoughtful introspection here, followed by some jumping jacks or something to shake the melancholy out of our brains. I’ll pause while you do that.
Aaaaaand back to the fiction.
The other side of this equation is easy to understand. The edgers have been having a rough time, a much rougher time then the core (or the rest of the old edge, for that matter, but everyone’s forgotten about them by this point). The conversation went something like this: Edgers: “Holly crap, everything over here is on fire! Can I come over to your place?” Oldworlders: “No.” Edgers: “What! Why not?” Oldworlders: “We’re full. Go away.” Edgers: “But everyone’s dying! Come on!” Oldworlders: “Still no. But we’ll send some ships to help protect you.” Edgers: “But, we’re hundreds of worlds scattered across the vast expanse of space. How can a few ships really protect us?” Oldworlders: “Good point. I guess we need you guys to sign up and help us out with the whole protecting thing.” Edgers: “Oh, ah, okay, I guess that seems fair.” Oldworlders: “Great! Here, stand in front of me, will you?”
Yeah. I’d hate them too. Kinda makes sense why THIS keeps happening even in the Fleet, where everyone is supposed to be united and fighting the K’ul together:
So, I’ve rambled on about the core/edge dynamic for a while now. I guess it’s probably time to make my point and wrap up. In conclusion…um…. So I guess what I’ve been trying to say is…that….
Huh. I’ve forgotten my point. Or I never had one.
Um…classism sucks? Be nice to people? Don’t call anyone a blueblood, even if they deserve it?
Yeah, that sounds good. I’m going to go with that.