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Comic 276 - The Singer

26th Mar 2015, 12:00 AM
The Singer
Average Rating: 5 (17 votes)

Author Notes:

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Haegan2005 26th Mar 2015, 12:12 AM edit delete reply

And not a word spoken!

Well, at least not out loud! lol
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 1:19 AM edit delete reply

Well a few words :D
Haegan2005 26th Mar 2015, 1:24 AM edit delete reply

Yes, I did miss those three... :(
Sheela 26th Mar 2015, 9:05 AM edit delete reply

Considering that the alien is probably Telepathic, Galina must have come off as a rambling idiot if they can read her. XD

Also, is it me or is Galine a wee bit attracted to her ?
A bit of bisexuality sneaking in, is there ?
Tokyo Rose 26th Mar 2015, 9:31 AM edit delete reply

It's possible to find someone aesthetically beautiful without wanting to fuck them.
MikeLinPA 26th Mar 2015, 10:57 AM edit delete reply
Yes, It's possible, but not likely. There is a reason our urges kick in so easily..., because it is a successful way to not run out of people! ;)
kitty 26th Mar 2015, 6:56 PM edit delete reply
Speak for yourself. I'm straight but I can most certainly appreciate a beautiful woman without having any desire to take her to bed.

More to the point - is the alien taking this shape in an effort to relate to the humans, or is this their actual form?
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:06 PM edit delete reply

Galina is kinda Stogy in her Sexuality .. Shes ok with others. but she is most assuredly Heterosexual. and shes very into Jet. the thought of kissing in front of others would make her blush madly.
mjkj 26th Mar 2015, 10:35 AM edit delete reply

But they were said before first contact...
jamie59 26th Mar 2015, 12:16 AM edit delete reply

Every time I see a green girl I think Orion Slave Girl.
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 1:20 AM edit delete reply

There is a reason for that :D
stormbringer77 26th Mar 2015, 5:20 AM edit delete reply
Have you been hanging out with J.T. Kirk again?
Spelledeg 26th Mar 2015, 1:21 AM edit delete reply

Oh wow! The Eph..the plant people are gorgeous! I really like how you textured her, it looks like light reflects differently on her than human skin to a degree. At least it seems to pick up light differently. I'm not sure if it's actually different or just an effect of the lighting on this page but she looks really good! I'm looking forward to seeing the conversation - or telepathy that's to come next. :D Wonderful page, Cent & Rose! 'Her movements were music' - that is another awesome line.
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 1:35 AM edit delete reply

She actually does use a diffrent shader set up than Humans .. its a hair more matte than Human skin . and the normal red/blue undertones are removed ( sub surface settings ) as they dont have the same hemoglobin fluids as Humans Epiphyte blood is mostly clear and watery gel or hydraulic fluid they also get O2 and CO2 directly from the air. That is then pumped via dozens of small valves and "hearts" located all over the body its a very diffrent exchange system as Humans :D
Spelledeg 26th Mar 2015, 2:03 AM edit delete reply

Ah, I wasn't imagining things! Very cool stuff! Also your subsurface scattering work in general is a treat in this comic. I'm not exceedingly knowledgeable about 3D work(scrap 3D busts in sculptris is my only experience) but I do know subsurface scattering! :D I love how much thought has been put into their systems, too! Epiphytes seem like a very cool bunch.
chk 26th Mar 2015, 11:20 AM edit delete reply

xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 3:29 AM edit delete reply

I seriously doubt the telepathy would work with Galina. She's immune to their broken telepathy transmitter, which is what the artifactus meant by "protected". I believe it's because Galina's brain is partially positronic.
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:33 AM edit delete reply

you will see how immune she actually is, in the upcoming pages :D
Stormwind13 26th Mar 2015, 11:47 AM edit delete reply

Actually xpacetrue, if you are reading Data Chasers you KNOW how well it works. Tulip tells you on the pages Xenobiology (5 March 2013) and Ageless (6 March 2013).
plymayer 26th Mar 2015, 2:50 AM edit delete reply

Green women.

Watch out. Green women are always a hand full. She Hulk, Orion slave girls, etc...
xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 3:25 AM edit delete reply

Actually, if I didn't know better, I could almost accuse Cent of using the age-old stereotype of green-skinned aliens (ala, "little green men").

Gene Roddenberry did this with Vulcans and Romulans (a splintered faction of Vulcans). And he did it again with the Orion slave girls.

Green hair may be more worthy of concern. I could have sworn I read an article that suggested a link between green hair in anime and a tendency for the character to be crazy. Sadly, I can't find it on TvTropes. It makes sense, though: Outside of Halloween, have you ever seen anyone with green hair? Not everyone could pull that off and I think you'd have to be a bit 'strange' to even try.

Trivia: While reptiles, insects and some bird feathers can be (or appear) green, there is no hair or fur in nature that is naturally green.

On the other hand: Green is the most soothing of colors. And it symbolizes a strong, healthy environment.
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:32 AM edit delete reply

actually the Epiphytes lampshade the the "green skinned space babe trope " because they are plants and the skin and hair are filled with chlorophyll that allow them to turn light into energy. :D they are actually very stable mentally :D
plymayer 26th Mar 2015, 5:28 AM edit delete reply

She seems nice. So did my ex wife.
MikeLinPA 26th Mar 2015, 11:00 AM edit delete reply
Ouch! I'm right there with ya' bro!
MikeLinPA 26th Mar 2015, 11:19 AM edit delete reply
The shape of an animal's body is very different than the shape of a plant, and for many good reasons. I doubt a plant in the shape of a human could conduct enough photosynthesis to sustain life and growth, and certainly not muscular locomotion. (If the light was intense enough, maybe, but that would present other problems like heat and radiation.) Even plants that can move (turn, open or close petals,) couldn't move 120 lbs across the room in less than a day or two.

By taking an animal shape, they sentence themselves to needing external energy sources, like food and digestion. Even if they have a much more efficient mechanism than chlorophyll, the surface area to volume ratio just isn't right. There isn't enough energy in sunlight to be a sole energy source for something like an animal. That is why plants have broad flat leaves.

Unless the writers have some other biology already worked out, this (plant people) is one of those things that one must accept to get on with the story.

I think that I shall never see an ambulatory tree.
xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 4:13 PM edit delete reply

Re: Epiphytes and plant vs animal

I brought up some points on how they share some traits of both plants and animals 3 pages ago (including a mention of how fungi and protists are neither plant nor animal). I also questioned whether Epiphytes would quote, "neatly fit human scientific classification".

I would agree with MikeLinPA that it's extremely unlikely that a human-shaped walking plant could conduct enough photosynthesis - not only for normal growth, but to provide the energy for regular locomotion. That said, they are aliens with an undoubtedly alien biology. And Cent did indicate that they are omnivores (consuming plant and/or animal matter) at certain phases of their life cycle.

Perhaps walking Epips need to consume some food to supplement their nutrition and energy requirements? Obviously, they must drink (or otherwise absorb) nutrient rich juices or liquids. Even plants must "drink."
Kitty 26th Mar 2015, 6:59 PM edit delete reply
Polar bears sometimes have a greenish tint to their fur because of algae (at least in zoos they do).

As for hair, I just saw a girl the other day with hair tinted blue, pink, green and yellow. :D People get a little goofy around here in springtime.
plymayer 26th Mar 2015, 5:28 AM edit delete reply

Knew a bar tender who had green hair. But her hair never stays the same for long. She was especially pretty with dark brown hair (her natural color ? Who knows, she probably doesn't remember). Been green, blue, red (literally red), blonde, brunette and various other colors. Only have known her about four years. A color doesn't normally last a season.
velvetsanity 26th Mar 2015, 9:42 AM edit delete reply

I wouldn't be surprised if the concept of 'green hair in anime = crazy' originates in fanfics, specifically Ranma/Sailor Moon crossovers...many of which involve an insane Setsuna trying to prevent Ranma from crossing paths with the Senshi in any way, because of the chaos surrounding him posing a threat to the Crystal Tokyo timeline. Or, rather, Stesuna's repeated failures to prevent it driving her insane. It's particularly notable on the anime addventure site.
xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 5:16 PM edit delete reply

I remember now! I saw it on a demotivational poster. (I found it rather funny at the time.)

I would be surprised if this trope originated from fanfiction. And to come from a single source? I think it'd have to be incredibly popular for that. (Is Ranma fanfiction popular? I don't read many fanfics. But I have a friend who is obsessed with Naruto fanction.)

To be fair, a meme can originate from a single, sometimes even obscure source. However, green hair is more of a stereotype or generalization than a meme.
velvetsanity 26th Mar 2015, 6:41 PM edit delete reply

For a long time, Ranma fanfics were by far the most numerous
highlander55 26th Mar 2015, 8:39 PM edit delete reply

As far advanced their race is with space flight their biology would have had to evolve to allow mobility when and as needed. They could "root" while traveling, observing planets and be tapped into a constant feeding system until mobility is needed.
mjkj 26th Mar 2015, 3:30 AM edit delete reply

Yayyy, first real contact....

The very first Epiphyte since two millennia...

Soooo beautiful....

Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:34 AM edit delete reply

yep :D Im glad you like her so far :D
mjkj 26th Mar 2015, 10:38 AM edit delete reply

Yup, I do :D
xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 3:33 AM edit delete reply

Yes, she is beautiful. Nicely done. In addition to the revealing outfit, what is striking is the exotic jewelry. Leaf earrings and twisted vines for a tiara?
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:35 AM edit delete reply

well they were mistaken for Nature spirits and gods when they came to earth before :D and normally Epips dont bother with clothing period :D
Fugacity 26th Mar 2015, 10:20 AM edit delete reply
So - does the physical form and clothing of the Epiphyte look semi-human just so that humans will be more comfortable, or is this how the normally look?
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:03 PM edit delete reply

This is a " comfort" form .. designed to make it easier to interact with humans.
Stormwind13 26th Mar 2015, 11:38 AM edit delete reply

I could see people worshipping that, CentComm! The Singer is gorgeous, very well done.
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:03 PM edit delete reply

that you Storm ! :D
Stormwind13 26th Mar 2015, 5:31 PM edit delete reply

Hmmm... maybe, CentComm...
ProfEtheric 26th Mar 2015, 3:49 AM edit delete reply

This page definitely made me smile. It's very, very touching. Well done! :)
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:02 PM edit delete reply

Yay! thank you Prof!
xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 3:49 AM edit delete reply

Speaking of Galina: It occurred to me that she would be a fascinating study - not just because she's an artificial person, but also in terms of psychology. She essentially "grew up" in about two years, without having a childhood. On Nadia base, she didn't get to socialize much at all and certainly not with those 'her age'. I'm just saying that, before, there should have been all sorts of scientists and experts begging to interview her. (For instance, she might be able to put to rest some of those longstanding nature vs. nurture debates. Potentially, she could singlehandedly turn psychology on it's head.) And now that she's the one who made first contact? She'll be the most famous person on both Luna and Earth, sort of like how Neil Armstrong became a household name.
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:02 PM edit delete reply

She has been bombarded by questions sense the "trial" before at Nadia base she was a closely guarded military project.. so no .. no one except a small group were allowed to interact with her.
duLapel 26th Mar 2015, 4:00 AM edit delete reply

See... see... the icon really did represent a Big-Nosed-Girl-with-Pearls!

The only gynecoid plant aliens in other fiction of note were the POD PEOPLE of Body Snatcher fame and Farscape's Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey) – A bald, blue-skinned female who belongs to a plant species, named Delvians.

By the way O2 would be a poison to be expelled like CO2 for animals is a poison to be expelled.

Anyway, the word "plant" is a pretty loaded term and implies a Terran taxonomy for Kingdoms, i.e., Animalia, Fungi, Plantae, etc. With this in mind, there is no example of plants walking around much less thinking because there isn't the proper evolutionary pressures that would preserve plantiness while becoming more animal in movement and form... So if green-girl is a plant with clear blood/hydraulic fluid (possibly using Nickel to transport CO2 as a ligand), then that suggest she/it is a construct... Just as much as our heroine!

This begs the question: why is she/it outwardly patterned on a young svelte human female? Maybe she/it is designed to be a non-threatening ambassador to humankind vs their normal form!
cattservant 26th Mar 2015, 7:43 AM edit delete reply

Stormwind13 26th Mar 2015, 11:40 AM edit delete reply

Just my opinion, cat, but I think the Epiphytes are much cuter than triffids EVER were. Or at least they CAN be. The singer is gorgeous there.
Tokyo Rose 26th Mar 2015, 9:44 AM edit delete reply

Information on the nice green people can be found on the Datachasers "Tech" page, under "Races". :)

To summarize a little: no, they aren't constructs--their biology has much more in common with Plantae than Animalia. They are capable of altering their own body forms, and this one has indeed assumed a human appearance intentionally, to facilitate communication and peaceful interaction. :)
Stormwind13 26th Mar 2015, 3:35 PM edit delete reply

Well plant aliens have been used extensively in science fiction, duLapel. Though they are not necessarily in main stream. Lord Thezmothete, the most powerful being humanity knows of, has He-Who-Must-Be Watered as his primary assistant in Buck Godot: Zap Gun For Hire.

Anyhow, if you are interested you can see all that you've been missing here - PlantAliens.
xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 4:50 PM edit delete reply

O2 is poisonous to plants and CO2 is poisonous to animals? Plants intake CO2 and expel O2, while animals inhale O2 and expel CO2?

Gas exchange via respiration is more complex than that. In fact, plants do intake some O2 in addition to CO2. And at night, when photosynthesis stops, they not only stop expelling O2, but continue to absorb O2.

And while a buildup of CO2 can be harmful in animals, it's more accurate to call it a "byproduct" or "waste". The act of breathing dissolves several gases into the bloodstream, not just oxygen.

BTW: Research in sustainable hydrogen production to make fuel cell cars economically viable has led to the development of closed photobioreactors. Under certain conditions (namely, a lack of sulfur) they can induce certain types of algae to produce hydrogen instead of oxygen.

If they can do it in a lab with a naturally-occurring protist, it would not be surprising to find similar biological processes in nature. I'm just saying that I could easily imagine an alien plant-like species producing some gas other than oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.
duLapel 26th Mar 2015, 11:36 PM edit delete reply

to Tokyo Rose—that self proclaimed spikey ball of hate—I apologies in advance. And if you find the need to edit or delete this humble post, I understand. I don't normally quibble the trivial...

With that said, my comments were from a perspective of hard science which, I've observed, is where your writings lean... It was by no means a got'cha piece and I do stand, as a card carrying professional scientist, behind what I posted... humor not withstanding!

to Stormwind13 Note I specifically said, "...gynecoid plant aliens in other fiction of note..." let me translate into small words... main stream stories that have life forms not of this Earth that have a plant like biology and look like human women! When read properly then your complaint and exemplars are non sequitur! I'm sorry... I used a latin phrase... I mean "a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement."

to xpacetrue O2 is poisons to all cells in excess. Just put a petunia in a 1 atm O2 partial pressure environment and see if it doesn't show toxic effect, that is before it burst spontaneously into flames. Eukaryote cells have devised ways to counter the toxicity and yes, need some level of O2 in several of their metabolic pathways (not all mind you). The problem with plants is they produce more O2 than they consume and thus must get ride of the toxic excess... but I'm sure you already knew this... :|

Animal organisms have the opposite problem! They need a little CO2 to maintain the pH of their blood (those that have it), but produce to much of the toxic stuff to keep it around... This was a plot point in the Andromeda Strain...

Back to Tokyo Rose I'm sorry that I wasn't clearer... When I said the Epiphytes (yes I looked them up) were likely constructs, I should have said engineered. In this case genetically by some progenitor race... think Rendezvous with Rama. That would be more consistent with what you have written about them and still be in the realm of Hard SciFi... I'm sorry, but to me naturally evolving Dryads falls into the category of "Handwaveium" driven Soft SciFi... but that is just me.

Tokyo Rose 27th Mar 2015, 8:27 AM edit delete reply


A dark secret: This story is largely Soft Sci-Fi in a crunchy Hard Sci-Fi shell. :) Much like a lie is easier to believe when it's dressed up in truth's good clothes, it's easier to present the fantastic elements when they're surrounded by a realistic background.

The Epiphytes and their tech fall heavily into the realm of Clarke's Third Law, but Cent and I have had some pretty wild and extensive conversations about how they could have come to exist as they do. We're not biologists or physicists or botanists or any other sort of -ists, just huge freaking nerds. :)
duLapel 27th Mar 2015, 12:04 PM edit delete reply

@ Tokyo Rose

This I can respect and it takes away nothing from my enjoyment of yours and Centcomm's wonderful collaboration.

The converse to Clarke's 3rd Law is one of my favorites when it comes to fiction: "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!"8P

A little nerdy aside: When do you see unexpected (via Natural Selection) phenotypes and speciation?
>>Symbiosis has created in nature many strange bedfellows (termites and their wood digesting flora, legumes and nitrogen fixing bacteria)
>>often when two species of very similar phenotype are successfully crossbreed they are monsters!
>>Species undergoing artificial selection for positive traits (the domestic dog from the wolf)or the sparing of prey animals because of some arbitrary trait (the Heikegani "ghost" crab with human faces on their backs).
>> Direct genetic manipulation (transgenic crops).

xpacetrue 27th Mar 2015, 9:54 PM edit delete reply

@ duLapel

One can find many weird critters and lifeforms without having to turn to artificial selection or gene manipulation. Some plants can shoot their seeds like projectiles. The devil's claw is designed to wrap around an animal's hoof. And Socotra Island has some of the strangest-looking plants on Earth. They look like they came from an alien world.

Bacteria can be found almost everywhere, even 2 miles underground. Apparently, there's a species that derives energy from the decay of radioactive rocks. Indeed, some types of bacteria can survive the harsh environment of space and withstand a surprising intensity of radiation.

Symbiosis may create strange bedfellows. But I think there are stranger cases. For example, lichen is not a single organism. It's actually a combination of a fungus and algae growing in symbiosis. Apparently, the fungus helps the algae grow and survive in the harsh tundra environment.

Also, I thought I'd mention that termites can also chew through PVC pipe. Their jaws are that strong.
cattservant 26th Mar 2015, 7:41 AM edit delete reply

Our heroine is a bit exotic too...
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:01 PM edit delete reply

that she is :D
Morituri 26th Mar 2015, 1:56 PM edit delete reply
I know that the epiphytes can take any shape they want, given time to make the shift, so no correlation is necessary between appearance and gender.

But do the epiphytes even have gender as we understand it? Are they herm, or trinary, or something else we'd find odd? Obviously they're evolved, so they must have some way of mixing genetic information.
Centcomm 26th Mar 2015, 3:00 PM edit delete reply

That will actually be covered in the coming pages :D
Stormwind13 26th Mar 2015, 3:20 PM edit delete reply

I'm thinking the Singer's appearance is not an accident, Morturi. Many of the ancient 'oracles' were female, and it appears the Epiphytes were familiar with ancient Greece. So the Singer appears in a form that the ancient Greek culture would have understood.

Now as far as for reproduction, I don't think they would keep a human form for that. So human's points of reference would have no meaning to them for that.
xpacetrue 26th Mar 2015, 3:47 PM edit delete reply

From a biological perspective, sexual reproduction is terribly inefficient. Also, it introduces a lot of harmful mutations.

The only evolutionary pressure scienstists have found to explain it is evidence that it is needed in complex organisms in order to keep up with the rapid mutations in parasites and disease-causing microbes. (Case in point: Every year we see new strains of the flu and cold viruses.)

To explain sexual reproduction, scientists point to snails. They usually reproduce asexually (without a partner). But during the season of highest parasitic infestation, many snails engage in sex.

Logically, since it has major drawbacks, if a species evolved without the need to keep up with rapidly changing environmental conditions (such as rapidly mutating pathogens or parasites), there would not be the pressure to evolve sexual reproduction.
Tokyo Rose 26th Mar 2015, 7:31 PM edit delete reply

Each individual produces both male and female procreative cells. Any human-recognizable sex characteristics are an intentional aesthetic choice on the part of the individual.
DLKmusic 26th Mar 2015, 7:54 PM edit delete reply

My thought on the Epiphytes was always that they were the seed of the Dryad myth in the LS/DC universe. Knowing now that they are plant based actually re-enforces that.
Matt Knab 26th Mar 2015, 8:36 PM edit delete reply

So...any good places to eat around here?
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