The dominant race in New Crobuzon and a sizable area of Bas-Lag.
See also Remade.
Xenians is a catch all term for all vaguely humanoid, organic, living sapient races apart from humans themselves. In New Crobuzon, it is most commonly used to refer to the most sizable non-human populations: cactacae, khepri, vodyanoi, and hotchi. The New Quillers vehemently oppose their acceptance into society, and the New Crobuzon government is willing to turn a blind eye to all but the most violent transgressions of the law.
Note that many sapient beings do not fit this category.
Inhabiting a small island south of Gnurr Kett, these "mosquito people" are encountered away from its shores extremely rarely if ever (see next paragraph). While the females are ravenous blood-draining predators, the males are harmless scholars. The two sexes interact only to mate, and the males accept sadly that their female counterparts are deadly to most visitors.
Over two thousand years before the time of The Scar, the anophelii expanded into a short-lived Malarial Queendom, an empire spanning most of Bas-Lag's southern lands. Their last remaining settlement is now tightly quarantined by Dreer Samher cactacae guards to prevent a reocurrence of this catastrophe. While the male scholars are only capable of forming the hooting sounds of their own language, they have been taught the writing system of High Kettai in order that the elites of Gnurr Kett may carefully control the he-anophelii's intellectual output.
Tragically, the mosquito women, their retractable foot-long proboscis contained in a more human-like mouth, are unable to replicate the male language. Able to survive months on end without eating, they are nearly always driven by starved hunger, and only in rare lucid moments after feeding are they able to think clearly. Neither sap-blooded cactacae nor armor-blooded scabmettlers are vulnerable to the she-anophelii.
Cactacae are large, muscular, prickly plant-like humanoids who are greenish in color. They posess several distinctive biological features that differ them from humans, specifically the fact that sap runs through their veins, rather than blood.
Cactus-people of immense, clumsy strength, often seven or eight feet tall. Their fibrous vegetable flesh is tough to wound except with their blade-hurling rivebows, and their physical attributes make them valued among labor teams, ship crews, and fighting forces. While cactacae populations are quite distributed, the New Crobuzon population is centered around the semi-autonomous Glasshouse , a dome inside the city that is large enough to contain multi-storied buildings. Elsewhere, cactacae settlements include the city of Dreer Samheer , and some villages in the area of ((them plains the militia passes through in Iron Council)).
Human from the waist up, with the lower bodies of immense lobsters, cray are amphibious ocean dwellers capable of surviving in air for several hours. The nation of Salkrikaltor (and its eponymous capital) maintains control over a large area of seawater, maintaining good diplomatic relations with New Crobuzon.
While the urban population in New Crobuzon consists largely of poverty-stricken, segregated, and desensitized youth living in Spatters, there are well-established communities elsewhere in the world. A
At least one of these practices an unusual form of law, in which the only crime is theft of choice, although this is possible in various degrees and covers the vast majority of conventional crimes, exiling or wing-clipping the most serious transgressors. Individual garuda can be seen flying over the wilderness at times.
Bizarre creatures, so obscurely hidden that most would probably label them monsters or myths rather than true xenians. They reside in the Gengris, a well defended and difficult to reach half-sunk island where they practice horrendous and puissant science-thaumaturgies unknown to other races. They are capricious and alien, but the rare explorers of other races manage to reside amongst them for a time. By all accounts, they are viciously cruel and completely heartless towards the other races and perhaps each other.
Physically, they are amphibious, eel-like humanoids that seem to "swim" as easily in mid air as in water, with great thick tails and "fistfuls" of teeth.
Spined hedgehog-like creatures riding on giant birds. They mostly live just outside the city of New Crobuzon, but they aren't too uncommon a sight on xenian-accepting streets.
The khepri are an insect-like race whose males and females develop quite differently. The males appear to be a species of very large, unintelligent scarabs. The female khepri have heads that resemble the male khepri, but they have developed humanoid bodies, and developed intelligence far beyond the simple minds of the khepri males. Because of this disparity, khepris have a matriarchal society.
Mute, khepri communicate with each other through smell, giving off a chemical spray from the back of their heads that they can smell and understand. Khepri may use sign language when they need to communicate with non-khepri.
Khepri heads feature both an inner jaw and an outer jaw. The outer jaw can hold food in place while eating with the inner jaw.
Khepri-spit can form quick-setting resin used to make sculptures, dyed different colors by the artist's choice of edible colorberries; New Crobuzon's Plaza of Statues contains much of this artwork. In New Crobuzon, khepri dwell in the ghettos of Kinken and Creekside, many in buildings constructed from walls containing or formed from living insects, using odd techniques. In Armada, khepri have their own riding, Booktown, where they oversee Armada's library inherited from the riding's previous rulers (having compound eyes, they rarely utilize it themselves).
It is implied that khepri no longer have a homeland, forced to disperse from Bered Kai Nev in Mercy Ships due to a mysterious event known as The Ravening. Much of their religion and traditions are only half-remembered, but surviving cultural traits include the guard-sisters, stingboxes, and metaclockwork in general.
The Llorgiss are only mentioned in passing now and then, with "barrel bodies," their "trifurcated bodies seeming to face every way at once".
Grey-skinned thick-built humanoids, the scabmettlers' blood is their most unusual trait. All scabmettlers must regularly drink an herbal concoction or risk being killed by a petrification of their own blood. This dangerous tendency to coagulation has been used for beneficial purposes, however, as with the correct application of the herb scabmettler warriors or arena-fighters can cut themselves and shape ridged armor of solidified blood around them. Highly protective, this can even protect them from the probosci of the blood-draining she-anophelii.
The scabmettlers on Armada, inhabitants and rulers of Shaddler riding, devoutly practice a faith deeply concerned with blood. The sounding of "bloodhorns" and the sight of red-horned temples are common in Shaddler, and during rain they mourn the fact that the sky is bleeding. Their martial fighting art is known as mortu-crutt. It is unknown where scabmettlers originate from, or whether their cultural practices elsewhere are similar to those of Armada's population. It is just barely possible that scabmettlers are a sub-population of humans or close human relatives, with a serious genetic disorder or some other affliction to explain their sanguine differences.
Amphibious frog-like race, at home in freshwater but able to survive on land with regular access to bathing. All are imbued with watercraeft to some degree, allowing them to temporarily shape water like clay. Vodyanoi shamans can be very destructive if they are able to convince or thaumaturgically coerce an undine to obey them. In New Crobuzon, vodyanoi live in canals, and many work at the freshwater river port, Kelltree.
Ab-dead is a catch-all term for dead flesh animated with living force (often called undead in other settings). While not all of these are sapient, there is a notable population throughout Bas-Lag, and even the odd ab-dead settlement. Most living sapient races abhor and fear them, although Armada is unusually accepting. They are called by many other names of varying specificity, including oupyr, loango, katalkana, haemophage and especially Thanati and Vampir.
The thanati of High Cromlech are the overlords of the city, a caste of ab-dead nobility. Mieville describes them as "liches with sewn-shut mouths, with beautiful clothes and skin like preserved leather."
Fork-tongued blood-drinking ab-dead humanoids whose abilities are conferred by disease, photophobic haemophagy. Vampir possess superhuman strength and speed, as well as healing and night vision, but are highly vulnerable to light, not instantly turning to ash but sustaining severe burns.
A source of terror for most humans, the Vampir are considered the lowest of the low in High Cromlech, similar to heroin addicts in modern society, begging on the streets for blood from the living.
In Armada's Dry Fall riding, the Brucolac imposes a relatively harmless blood-tax on his surprisingly loyal citizens. In New Crobuzon and elsewhere, the vampir must resort to darker and stealthier methods of obtaining their nutrition.
Constructs are almost all mindless clockwork automatons, created to be servants or soldiers for New Crobuzon's population. Through unpredictable errors accumulating in their programming, however, a rare few gained sentience - and became the Construct Council, which then worked to swell its numbers but infecting more and more constructs with its AI-like programming.
When Parliament finally discovered the existence and severity of the problem, the Construct Wars were initiated, wiping out the construct population, apart from a very small number of servants for well-connected people, and an unknown number of soldier-constructs stored by Parliament and later used to assist in the Collective's defeat. (Since the Construct Wars, assuredly mindless golems have filled the abandoned niche left behind by the constructs' eradication.)
While their level of intelligence is unclear, Armada seems to employ dolphins as more than simple domesticated animals. Bastard John, for instance, appears sapient enough to act as chief of security for the undersea repair crew.
Parasitic purple hands, attaching themselves to victims with its spike. The left-hand "sinistral" noble class rule whichever secret handlinger community they are a part of, as they have the ability to shut down the dextrier's control over its host at will. These right-hand "dextrier" warriors, however, are perhaps more terrifying for a non handlinger, as they are able to fly and spit fire using the body of whichever host they choose.
Though feared by the citizens of New Crobuzon, handlingers have long been in contact with the city's rulers, and (between the events of The Scar and Iron Council) even agreed to have their presence in the city made public knowledge (along with the assertion that only the criminal condemned would be used as hosts). This development puts yet another terrifying weapon in the hands of the New Crobuzon government, but due to internal politics, handlingers were found on both sides of the Collective's failed revolution.
Looking like a cross between men and newts, these aquatic (or perhaps amphibious) creatures tend to form reclusive societies apart from the other races. Even those living and working on the underside of Armada don't appear to have much interaction with their fellow Armadans (although perhaps the reader simply doesn't get a good view of Armada's underside world).
A small population of stick-legged, isolated creatures, the stiltspear are swamp-dwellers with the innate ability to suddenly appear as trees or stumps. They are divided into tribes, and provided for by the female hunters, who utilize an unusual form of somaturgy to immobilize their prey. They were driven out by the approaching railroad into dwindled, severely affected populations further south.
Tiny winged gargoyle-like creatures with just enough intelligence for basic conversation. Sometimes pests, sometimes errand-runners, wyrmen seem to thrive wherever they are put, and vulgar, cackling swarms of them have no trouble roosting in New Crobuzon or serving as scouts for the Iron Council.
The races of Bas-Lag are nigh-infinite, and they cannot all be enumerated here. Trow or troglodytes lurk in caves, striders roam the plains, gessin, vu-murt, and countless others all form lesser known societies or drift through other races' settlements. The cacotopic zone alone must contain a constantly changing population of creatures as varied as the entirety of Bas-Lag, too obscure and transient for their possible sapience to be discovered.
When the grindylow were searching for Armada, the goblin sharks and the corokanth would not tell them its location.