The Race (Worldwar)

The Race (Worldwar)

The Race refers to the fictional alien invaders of Harry Turtledove's "Worldwar" quadrilogy, "Colonization" trilogy and "Homeward Bound". The aliens, a reptilian species with an extremely long-lived and ponderous species history, call their planet "Home", and style themselves as "The Race."



Apparently evolved from predatory ancestors, members of the Race are physically shorter in height than humans and have numerous lizard-like traits. Their skin is brown and scaly, often decorated with body paint which becomes more elaborate in higher ranking individuals. Their eyes are segmented like a chameleon's and have nictitating membranes, an adaptation to the desert climate of their homeworld.cite book | author = Turtledove, Harry| url =| title = Worldwar: Tilting the Balance | year = 1995 | pages = pp.608 | id = ISBN 0345389980] They have bifurcated tongues and vestigial tail stumps. They have no tear ducts. Though they have a characteristic reptilian dislike of low temperatures, they are warm blooded as shown by their breath fogging in Earth's winter.cite book | author = Turtledove, Harry| url =| title = Worldwar: In the Balance| year = 1994 | pages = pp.576 | id = ISBN 0345388526] Their wrist bones pivot off one bone rather than two, and their ribcages are described as resembling latticework. Though primarily carnivorous, as shown by their specialised teeth, the race can process vegetation. They have a revulsion to eating eggs, due to the similarities to their own life cycle.
Ginger has narcotic effects on The Race and also sends females into oestrus.


Members of The Race are seasonal breeders, and reproduce once a year at a specific time when females enter oestrus. There is no monogamy, and males play no part in the raising of young. Hatchlings are born with an egg tooth, and are essentially miniature versions of the adults. They do not vocalise as frequently as human children unless urged to do so, a defence mechanism against predators. Unlike human babies who crave physical contact, Race hatchlings instinctively avoid anything larger than themselves. At the age of 3 months, Race hatchlings become predatory in nature and have to be taught not to attack their own kind.cite book | author = Turtledove, Harry| url =| title = Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance| year = 1996 | pages = pp.408 | id = ISBN 0340666986] Due to their considerably greater physiological development and self reliance at birth, cases of surviving feral children are much more common in the history of The Race than in that of humans.


The Race's homeworld, Tau Ceti II (known to The Race simply as "Home") revolves around a class II Secchi class star. Its elliptical orbit is half as long as Earth's, and its climate is much hotter and dryer. Its oceans are very small and consequently holds few petroleum deposits. Animal inhabitants on the planet include a predator which hunts in a manner similar to the Trapdoor spider and pterosaur-like creatures.

The Empire

The Race is governed by a 50,000 year old imperial dynasty headed by the Ssumaz family. Emperors have exclusive access to a controlled harem of females in order to keep track of the bloodline. Emperors are democratically elected, but the choices are limited to the clutch of the previous ruler. The Empire's policies are fiercely expansionist, due to connotations of manifest destiny. Conquered races have The Race's language imposed upon them and are traditionally not permitted to join The Empire's armed forces. Some private property and freedom of worship is permitted, as long as they do not conflict with The Empire's policies. In Race society, steadiness and stability count so much more than speed, that invention is not encouraged. New concepts are introduced to Race society gradually over a period of centuries so as to prevent societal instability.


The Emperor is elevated to a god-like status in Race society. Members of The Race are taught at birth to lower their eyes in reverence at any evocation of the Emperor in conversation. The Emperor's birthday (known to The Race as "Hatching Day") is celebrated once every 6 months (a year for The Race). The Race afterlife consists of eternal servitude to past Emperors. Emperor worship is so deeply ingrained into Race culture, that the concept of "impericide" is virtually unthinkable.

ubject worlds and races

As well as their own homeworld, The Race has two subject planets; Epsilon Eridani and Epsilon Indi (known as "Rabotev 1" and "Halless 2" to The Race). Both planets' indigenous dominant lifeforms, the Rabotevs and the Hallessi, are similar to The Race in biology as well as evolutionary pace. Little is revealed of their history before their subjugation to The Empire, other than that the Hallessi had an identical form of government, while the Rabotevs were divided among competing mini-empires. At least one of these races practised slavery, though it is unspecified which.


The Race, being a slow-evolving species, is more often at peace than in conquest. Turtledove wanted to reflect this in their language by their lack of specific words for all things military. The following is a list of various terms in the language of the Race and their equivalent, as well as other new concepts that the Race has had to learn:
*Big Ugly: Derogatory slang term that Race soldiers came up with for humans (known as Tosevites to the Race) after arriving on Earth, referring to the fact that humans are much taller than the Race.
*Fleetlord: Highest ranking officer of the race, equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet. One is charged with commanding the conquest fleet, and the other in charge of the colonization fleet.
*Home: Original home system of the Race, Tau Ceti II
*Killercraft: Fighter jet
*Landcruiser: Tank
*Troopcarrier: Armored personnel carrier
*Not-empire: Sovereign state governed by some form other than inherited monarchy (Before arriving on Earth, the Race had no concept of political organization except by hereditary monarchy)
*Snout-counting: Democracy
*Shiplord: Captain of a ship in the Conquest fleet.
*Soldiers' time: A period of military training and conscription, when the Emperor of the Race launches a conquest on a planet. Two "soldiers' times" were declared before the Race came to Earth, corresponding to the two worlds conquered by the Race prior to Earth.
*Spice: Ginger

The Race also have the habit of referring to individual Earth "not-empires" in the native language of the Tosevites living there. The exception is that of Nippon (Japan), which survived as an independent empire following the war. Their peoples are rendered as simple rewordings of such. For example, Nazi Germany is "Deutschland" and its people are the "Deutsche," and in comparison, Britain remains "Britain" (which helps English-language readers) but the British are instead the "Brit"ain"ish." The Japanese are referred to as Nipponese, a hybrid of Japanese and English (the Japanese refer to themselves as Nihon-jin)



Little is known of The Race's history before the establishment of The Empire. It is known that 75,000 years ago (Earth years, EY), The Race homeworld was fully explored by a male of The Race named Sherran, who would later become a folk hero. The Race learned how to harness nuclear energy at roughly the same period. Slavery had been abolished long before the founding of The Empire, though the exact time when this happened is never specified.

50,000 EY ago, the various Race nations unified into a single government headed by The Emperor. The Rabotevs were conquered 14,000 EY ago by Fleetlord Pssafalu, and the Hallessi 9,000 EY later by Fleetlord Hisstan. Due to their superior technology, The Race suffered few losses in their wars of conquest. Memorials on their conquered worlds show that Race casualties numbered in a few dozen on Halless 1, while on Rabotev 2, it was a few hundred.cite book | author = Turtledove, Harry| url =| title = Worldwar: Striking the Balance| year = 1997 | pages = pp.560 | id = ISBN 0-345-40550-1]


In 1141 AD, The Empire sends probes to Earth (or "Tosev 3" as it is known to the Race) and spend 800 years preparing for its conquest.

The Conquest Fleet under Fleetlord Atvar arrives in Tosev 3’s solar system on December of 1941, after a 20 year (human years) journey spent in stasis. Upon receiving radio emissions emanating from the planet, it is discovered to The Race’s shock that humans have rapidly developed into an industrial society since they were last seen through the probes.The Race commences with military operations in May 1942, detonating several atom bombs above the Earth's atmosphere in an attempt to disrupt human communications. On the night of May 30, only hours after detonating the atomics, the Race's forces attack human aircraft and ground vehicles in and around designated landing zones. Once the sites are secured, troop ships begin landing and disgorging ground forces. The Race simultaneously establishes bases on every continent except Antarctica. South America and Africa are overrun almost immediately. Landing bases in Florida, Illinois, Idaho, and New York cause widespread panic and chaos in the United States. The Race's forces establish bases in Poland, cutting Nazi Germany off from the bulk of its forces in the Soviet Union and resulting in a massive German retreat westward. The United Kingdom's air forces are battered from alien bases in Spain and France. The Soviet Union must deal with enemy strongholds in the Ukrainian SSR, Outer Mongolia, and Siberia. In the early days of the fighting, only Germany is able to battle the aliens with any measure of success because its economy has been specifically geared toward war. The Race discovers that their orbital atomic detonations had little if any effect on the human militaries because they do not yet possess silicon computer chips. The German battery manages to destroy two of the Race's ships, including the one which carries the bulk of the Conquest Fleet's atomic stockpile. The scattered uranium is appropriated by German, Soviet and Jewish rebel forces. In an attempt to reduce human resistance, Atvar orders the use of atomic weapons on Washington DC and Berlin, compelling both nations to fight harder and to hasten production of their own atomic weapons.

The effect of the war on the psyche of the Conquest fleet soldiers is steep. Although they rapidly conquer and hold about half of Earth, they regard it as a dismal failure because the whole of Earth did not fall in days, and because there is still a war being fought at all. The Race view the war much as Americans in the real-world timeline later viewed the Vietnam War: although the Race usually have the upper hand, they are taking staggering (to them) losses due to attrition. Further, the Race have an extremely hierarchical society where authority is never questioned. However, the Race's mounting losses and inability to conquer Earth gradually lead to splits within the ranks of the Fleet officers; disgruntled frontline soldiers in Siberia mutiny against their officers (an unthinkable act in their culture), much as French army units mutinied during World War I, demanding new army leadership that would stop the high attrition they were suffering.

Impact on Humans

The effects of the Conquest could not have been foreseen by either party - least of all the Race, given their ultra-conservative culture. Within months after the start of the Conquest, three human factions (the United States of America, the German Reich, and Russia) had salvaged nuclear material and produced their own atomic bombs. German and British fighter airplanes were re-designed with jet engines and swept wings for faster flight, in an attempt to at least partially close the gap with supersonic Race killercraft. Several other inventions (mostly military, including the bazooka) and tactics were thus developed years ahead of their times in regular history.

By the 1960s (during the time of Colonization, when the Race held most of the Southern Hemisphere of Tosev 3), most cars in America ran on hydrogen. Personal computers were used by an increasing number of workers, thanks to advances in electronics from scavenged Race technology. A primitive form of the Internet was growing. Several trips had been taken aboard reusable space shuttles to space and to the Moon and Mars.

The partial occupation also had a significant effect on culture and society in general. Ginger, discovered to have a narcotic effect on the Race, is widely grown and stored by various governments. Culturally, humans try to take the occupation in stride, e.g. a song by Spike Jones, referring to Jones' song "Der Fuehrer's Face" from the real-world timeline:

:When the Fleetlord says, "The Earth is for the Race," :We SSS! SSS! right in the Fleetlord's face!:When the Fleetlord says, "We rule the Earth from space,":We SSS! SSS! right in the Fleetlord's face!


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