Wednesday, 30 January 2013

More Martian Stuff...

As usual, being utterly indecisive I've modified the earlier Martian sculpt considerably, partly because I felt it was a bit too 'cuddly', going back to an earlier design of mine which adheres to Wells's basic concept of the creature, but with some tweaks to try to make it more 'rational'. If you know the novel, the Martians in The War of the Worlds can be seen as hyper-evolved humans, which is the starting point for my version. I need to digress somewhat to explain...

In 1893 in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek article, The Man of the Year Million, Wells had posited that technological progress meant that the processes of locomotion and digestion in humans would be increasingly, and eventually wholly, mechanised leading, through evolutionary development, to the atrophying of the parts of the human body that carry out those functions. At the same time, our brains would grow, as would our hands ('the teacher and agent of the brain' as Wells put it) leading, in a million years, to humans having evolved into weird giant heads perched on enormous hands, with tiny vestigial bodies dangling like grotesque pendants.

The magazine carrying this piece, The Pall Mall Budget, illustrated them thus, bathing in the 'nutritive fluid' Wells speculated would replace conventional feeding (this is, incidentally, to the best of my knowledge the first time that that hoary sf staple the Big-Headed Super-Intelligent Being, as exemplified later by Dan Dare's would-be nemesis the Mekon, makes its appearance):

The humorous periodical Punch parodied the article in a piece of amusing doggerel accompanied by this rendition of the same scene (ironically, despite ridiculing Wells's vision Punch's illustrator probably captures the essence of these strange beings more closely than The Pall Mall Budget's more restrained artist):

The Martians are a step beyond this vision, their bodies being mere colossal heads containing, apart from the prodigious brain, little in the way of entrails save a heart and lungs. The two bunches of tentacles are effectively highly evolved hands. With no digestive system, they take their nutrition directly into their bloodstream by injecting the blood of other creatures (they are essentially vampires - there must have been something in the air in 1897, the year WOTW was first published as a serial, as this was also the year Bram Stoker's Dracula appeared). That they are implicitly a vision of what humanity could evolve into is made clear when Wells's nameless narrator cites, in support of the thesis that they are descended from humanoids, The Man of the Year Million in a rather post-modern manner, even criticising the author's 'facetious' tone!

Thus, I have attempted in my sculpture to incorporate features which imply that the Martians are, indeed, hyper-evolved humanoids (if not humans), as my crude initial concept sketch shows:

First, I've compromised on the number of tentacles to make it practical to animate. Wells's creatures have sixteen in two bunches of eight; I've reduced this right down to six in two bunches of three. But apart from this, taking minor liberties with Wells's descriptions (which make the Martians out to be basically large spherical lumps with very few external features save eyes, mouth and tentacles) I've added a vestigial torso, which would contain the heart and lungs, and a sort of 'fused neck' connecting it to the massive swollen head.

So far, this is how the sculpture looks (it's still in the roughing-out stage, hence apart from anything else the lopsidedness as I've yet to build-up the left-hand side of the bulging brain case):

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