Thursday, October 26, 2006

If It Qax Like A...

March 17, 2006 : Science Friday: What Dreams May Come

Would I like to draw a Qax? DarkSyde asked me. Sure! I wrote back. I just need one little detail: what in heck is a Qax?

"One of the most imaginative aliens ever dreamed up are the Qax from Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence. Qax biology is based around chemical hyper-cycles embedded in convection cells. A Qax is millions of such cells arranged on the sea surface in a branching pattern covering several miles. Each cell is as wide as a coffee can lid, languidly bubbling like chocolate with nested eddies down to the microscopic level; they're highly organized, living storms."

Okay! Got it!

I constructed the critturs out of multiples of an actual photo of a convection cell, framed in a hex grid.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

On a simmering ocean world, under an oversized blue-white star, the tendrils of one Qax reach out to the limb of another in the distance. The bluish sunlight is filtered and scattered to a pinkish orange by a dense blanket of CO2 spiked generously with hydrocarbon and sulfur compounds. Undersea volcanoes light up the horizon and belch more toxic gas into the air.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is amazing, really good. As I have read all of the Xeelee Sequence and Destiny's Children books, I have to say it is very similar to what I imagined.

If you don't mind, would you accept a request that you draw a Xeelee Nightfighter? I can't find any pictures of them anywhere, but the descriptions in the books are very clear:

"A Xeelee Nightfigher is a hundred - yard sycamore seed wrought in black. The wings sweep back from the central pilot's pod, flattening and thinning until at their trailing edges they are so fine you can see the stars through them."

"Its night - dark wings flexed and sparked as it swam through space after him. He had never seen a Xeelee so close, save in sims: he didn't know anybody who had, and lived. It was more than inhuman, he thought, more than just alien; it was a dark, primeval thing, not of this time."