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Thrint

From the video game Ringworld: Revenge of the Patriarch.

180px-Thrint1

A Thrint from Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials.

The Thrintun (singular Thrint), were a long-extinct species which ruled the galaxy through telepathic mind control from 3 to 2 billion years ago.[1] Humans knew them as Slavers.

The Thrintun (singular Thrint), in Larry Niven's fictional Known Space universe, are a long-extinct species that ruled the galaxy through telepathic mind control. They debuted in Niven's World of Ptavvs, in 1966.

Biology and sociologyEdit

The Thrintun evolved on a planet where most animal species possessed telepathic ability. Natural selection led to an environment wherein no individual species possessed great advantage over any other; defenseless off-world species, however, were easy prey. A single Thrint can manage a few dozen sentient beings simultaneously; with an amplifier helmet, the same Thrint can control an entire planet.

The Thrintun were green-skinned, scaly carnivores, eating and excreting through a single facial orifice lined with sharp teeth and fringed with pink feeding tendrils. They had a single eye in large, round heads. Their two hands had three large, clumsy fingers arranged in a mutually opposed fashion, like a mechanical grab. Niven is either inconsistent about the actual size of a Thrint, or supposes a wide degree of variation among them: in World of Ptavvs, the character Kzanol is about half the height of a human, whereas later stories portray Thrintun as about 8 feet high.

Thrintun had no internal mechanism for regulating appetite; for their own health and safety they had to learn while young to endure their constant, ravenous hunger rather than suffering from sickness due to overeating. The adult male IQ was between 80-90 by human standards, while females were nearly mindless. Males came of age when they could effectively resist the telepathic control of their father.

Thrintun referred to their telepathy as "The Power". In all their religions, The Power was self-evident of their manifest destiny to rule the galaxy. A loss or congenital lack of The Power is cause for exile, or more usually murder by the family, in their society. These unfortunates, called Ptavvs, are tattooed pink and are enslaved by other Thrintun.

In the view of the Thrintun, all non-telepathic beings were slaves by definition. If such beings were roaming freely on planet not yet discovered by the Thrintun, they were simply slaves who were not yet found by their master.

The Thrintun's success in spite of low intelligence and poor skill with tools was due to the great advantage of their telepathic abilities; they never suffered much selective pressure to improve what they had. A Thrint's slaves could be far more intelligent than their master, but intelligence provided no protection at all against enslavement.

The Thrintun's society, though immense at its peak, was not very complex, consisting mainly of various families vying with each other for slaves and land. Still, though all Thrintun were by definition superior to all slaves, there were social differences among the Thrintun, with a landed aristocracy at the top owning vast estates or whole planets and a layer of poor Thrintun at the bottom, who sought to better their position by gambling or by prospecting for new planets and new slave races which they could claim for their own; Kzanol was one of these. The only real laws were an indictment against murdering other Thrintun and two "unbreakable oaths": the prtuuvl for agreements between Thrintun, and the kpitlithtulm for agreements between a Thrint and favoured slaves. Violation of any of the above meant death by vivisection, enough to give even the most violently desperate second thoughts about doing so.

Though all Thrintun were cruel and ruthless by human standards, there were individual and family differences among them, some being a bit more considerate to their slaves than others. For example, when Kzanol went into the stasis field he also took care of the survival of the enslaved being he had with him in the ship, which other Thrintun might not have bothered about.

The Thrintun developed a mediocre philosophic tradition in response to their need for control over their aggressive drives. Aphorisms such as "haste is not speed" represent deep wisdom to a Thrint. The combination of strong and insatiable hunger with low intelligence also leads Thrintun to act rashly. In World of Ptavvs, Kzanol desperately wagers his future on a competitive animal race. Gambling is quite common among Thrintun. Similarly, Suicide Night was an unsurprising (to any Thrint) reaction by all the Thrintun to losing their war against the Tnuctipun.

Known historyEdit

The Thrintun were Neolithic hunters when their planet was visited by a starship piloted by an unknown race. They quickly enslaved its crew, then their civilization before going on to galactic domination over dozens of species (known to later humans as the Slaver Empire). Chief among these suborned races were the masters of genetic engineering, the Tnuctipun.

The Thrintun settled vast areas of the galaxy, seeding many planets with basic, Tnuctipun-created life forms for use as food sources. (The diversity of life before their empire is not known.) Once a planet was seeded with a sort of yeast, larger animals known as whitefoods (later, as the Bandersnatchi) were introduced in a form of interstellar cattle-farming. The common chemical composition, genetics and environmental conditions found among species in Known Space are a consequence of this process: most life in the Galaxy is descended from Tnuctipun food yeast.

The Man-Kzin Wars short story Teacher's Pet claims that Pak Protectors, progenitors of the human race, evolved on one such planet after plant life had started and that the Thrintun self-destructed before the Bandersnatchi were installed. Like most of the Man-Kzin Wars short stories, its canonicity is unknown.

The Thrintun were nearly defeated about two billion years before the human era. The Tnuctipun had devoted centuries to a well-crafted plan to destroy the Thrintun: designing technologies to weaken Thrintun society and cultivating an easily shattered dependence upon the Tnuctipun. The Tnuctipun's ability to do that indicates that the Thrintun's telepathic ability enabled them to control and order other beings, but not to read their thoughts. The Thrintun's slaves could keep secrets from their masters - which proved the masters' undoing.

As the Tnuctipun pressed the final battle of the war, the Thrintun, as a death blow they called Suicide Night, used an immensely powerful telepathy amplifier to send a single, telepathic command throughout the Galaxy: "Die". All chordates in the galaxy committed suicide, including the Thrintun themselves.

The story is partially told in the novella World of Ptavvs and the story Peter Robinson from the book Man-Kzin Wars X

Post-extinction Edit

In the 'present day' of the Known Space universe, the Grogs, a race of sessility furry cones which can control animals telepathically, are suspected of being degenerate descendants of the Thrintun.

In the years following the events of World of Ptavvs, humans encountered artifacts remaining from the time of the Thrintun. Hunting for Slaver stasis boxes, often containing new and tremendously valuable technologies, became a pastime for many adventurers. Most of this technology, of course, was made by slave races, particularly the Tnuctipun. As Tnuctipun technology was often a booby trap by design for the Thrintun, this hobby was rather dangerous.

Other media Edit

  • Thrintun were one of the species detailed in Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials.
  • The Dnyarri of Star Control are very similar in description, powers, and history to the Thrintun race. Similar to the Grogs, the Talking Pets are their devolved forms.
  • Larry Niven's "The Slaver Weapon" in Star Trek: The Animated Series, adapted from his own short story "The Soft Weapon". It includes some elements from his Known Space mythos such as the Kzinti and the Slavers. All that was known and left of the Slaver civilization were their stasis boxes, in which several advanced devices were found. The first one found contained a flying belt, the second a disruptor bomb, and one found in 2269 contained a weapon of a Tnuctip spy. (TAS: "The Slaver Weapon")

BiologyEdit

The Thrintun were reptilian carnivores, with green scaly skin, eating and excreting through a single orifice lined with sharp teeth and fringed with feeding tentacles. They had a single faceted eye in large, round heads. Their two hands had large, clumsy fingers arranged in a mutually opposed fashion, like a mechanical grab. Thrintun are usually about 8 feet high, although the individual Kzanol is about half the height of a human.[2]

Thrintun had no internal mechanism for regulating appetite; for their own health and safety they had to learn while young to endure their constant, ravenous hunger rather than suffering from sickness due to overeating. The average adult male IQ was between 80-90, while females and juveniles were nearly mindless. Males came of age when they could effectively resist the telepathic control of their father.

TelepathyEdit

The Thrintun evolved on a planet where most animal species possessed telepathic ability. Natural selection led to an environment wherein no individual species possessed great advantage over any other; defenseless off-world species, however, were easy prey. A single Thrint can manage a few dozen sentient beings simultaneously; with a thought-amplifier helmet, the same Thrint can control an entire planet.

Their success in spite of low intelligence and poor skill with tools was due to the great advantage of their telepathic abilities; they never suffered much selective pressure to improve what they had. A Thrint's slaves could be far more intelligent than their master, but intelligence provided no protection at all against enslavement.

Thrintun referred to their telepathy as "The Power." A loss or congenital lack of The Power is cause for exile in their society. These unfortunates, called Ptavvs, are tattooed pink and are enslaved by other Thrintun. In their religion, The Power was itself evidence of their manifest destiny to rule the galaxy and all sentient species. Whole planets were owned by a single Thrint individual or a family of Thrintun.

CultureEdit

Their society, though immense at its peak, was not very complex, consisting mainly of various famiies vying with each other for slaves and land. The only real laws were an indictment against murdering other Thrintun and two "unbreakable oaths": the prtuuvl for agreements between Thrintun, and the kpitlithtulm for agreements between a Thrint and certain valued slaves, such as the Tnuctipun. Violation of any of the above meant death by vivisection, enough to give even the most violently desperate second thoughts about doing so.

The Thrintun developed a mediocre philosophic tradition in response to their need for control over their aggressive drives. Aphorisms such as "haste is not speed" represent deep wisdom to a Thrint. The combination of strong and insatiable hunger with low intelligence also leads Thrintun to act rashly. Kzanol desperately wagered his future on a competitive animal race. Gambling is quite common among Thrintun. Similarly, Suicide Night was an unsurprising (to any Thrint) reaction by all the Thrintun to losing their war against the Tnuctipun.

Known historyEdit

The Thrintun were Neolithic hunters when their planet was visited by a starship piloted by an unknown race. They quickly enslaved its crew, then their civilization before going on to Galactic domination over dozens of species (known to later humans as the Slaver Empire). Chief among these suborned races were the masters of genetic engineering, the Tnuctipun.

The Thrintun settled vast areas of the galaxy, seeding many planets with basic, Tnuctipun-created life forms for use as food sources and BioTech implements such as Stage Trees or Slaver Sunflowers (The diversity of life before their empire is not known.) Once a planet was seeded with a sort of yeast, larger animals known as whitefoods (later, as the Bandersnatchi) were introduced in a form of interstellar cattle-farming. The common chemical composition, genetics and environmental conditions found among species in Known Space are a consequence of this process: most life in the Galaxy is descended from Tnuctipun food yeast.

Pak Protector, progenitors of the human race, evolved on one such planet after plant life had started and that the Thrintun destroyed before the Bandersnatchi were installed. Teacher's Pet; like most of the Man-Kzin Wars short stories, its canonicity is unknown.

The Thrintun were nearly defeated about two billion years before the human era because of their overdependence on the resources and technologies of some of the enslaved races, especially the scientific and technological masters Tnuctipun. The Tnuctipun were never seen as a threat because of their small size but they had devoted centuries to a well-crafted plan to destroy the Thrintun: designing technologies to weaken Thrintun society and cultivating an easily shattered dependence upon the Tnuctipun.

When it became evident that the revolution would succeed, the Thrintun built an immensely powerful telepathy amplifier. As the latter pressed the final battle of the war, the Thrintun, developed as a final weapon a death blow they called Suicide Night and sent a single, telepathic command throughout the Galaxy: "Die." All chordates in the galaxy committed suicide, including the Thrintun themselves. Peter Robinson from the book Man-Kzin Wars X

The last of the Thrintun was discovered in a stasis field in the Alpha Centauri system. Children's Hour by Dean Ing

Legacy Edit

In the 'present day' the Grogs, a race of sessile furry cones which can control animals telepathically, are suspected of being degenerate descendants of the Thrintun.

Some of the present life in the Galaxy, such as the Bandersnatchi, is believed to be influenced by yeasts left behind on Empire "food worlds."

Humans knew a little of the Thrintun, whom they called the Slavers. Hunting for Slaver stasis vaults, often containing new and tremendously valuable technologies, is a pastime of many adventurers. Such findings include the Variable Knife and the Slaver Disintergrator. A known sought-after Thrintun technology is the conversion of matter to energy, but no samples have been found.

Most of this technology, of course, was made by slave races, particularly the Tnuctipun. As Tnuctipun technology was often designed to be a booby trap for the Thrintun, this hobby is rather dangerous.

BackgroundEdit

They debuted in Niven's The Handicapped, published in the mid-1960s.

Other media Edit


External links Edit


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