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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)

Analysis: Animorphs

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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-02-29 10:15pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Hello, this is Ahriman again, becoming all productive as I get a week’s vacation from work. And/or as I enter the manic phase of my madness. Whatever works.

So today I’d like to discuss an old favorite, a sci-fi book series I started reading around the age of 7, and finished at 12. I am of course referring to Animorphs. For just under 5 years, a new 200 page Animorphs adventure was waiting at the bookstore on the second week of every month. I only learned much later that the latter half of the series was ghostwritten. Anyway, there were 54 main storyline books, a total of 10 spinoffs and specials (including 2 choose-your-own-adventure books) 2 pc/video games (which sucked) a gameboy game (that was basically a rip-off of Pokemon with morphs instead of monsters) and a tv series (which really sucked.) Recently I was moving my collection of old books when I realized that despite not touching them in years, I only had to see the cover to immediately recall the story within. So it’s a sci-fi series, one that I enjoyed as a kid, unlike with Ringo’s books, there’s a wealth of information available about it online, but I figure I’ll go over it anyway, a bit to produce fodder for debates (there were some truly weird aliens in these books) but mostly because I’m curious how the series will stand the test of time.

Book 1, the Invasion

Basically the first book is all about introducing the characters and the premise. 5 kids are walking home from a mall one night, they take a shortcut through an abandoned construction site, and witness the crash of an alien spacefighter. Inside, they find a dying alien, the Andalite (think blue centaur with two eyes on stalks and a scorpion tail) Prince Elfangor (Prince is a military rank for Andalites) who tells them that earth is being invaded by parasitic aliens called Yeerks. The Yeerks are like grey slugs that crawl in ones ear then wrap around and seize control of the brain. Yeerk Hosts are called Controllers. Anyway, Elfangor was part of a great expedition to liberate the Earth, but his mothership got blow into scrap metal and he got shot down.

In the hopes that they can accomplish something, he has one of the kids, Jake, retrieve an Escafil Device from his ship (all the alien names in this series are anagrams of real words.) anyways, it’s a small blue box and once all 5 kids have touched it, they gain the power to acquire a creature’s DNA by touching it, and can then shapeshift into that creature whenever they want. One small catch, there’s a 2 hour limit, after which they’ll be trapped in that animal’s form forever. While morphed, they communicate as Andalites do, via telepathy which they call thought-speak. They cannot morph clothing the first few times, and later only skintight clothes, necessitating a number of hidden caches.

After watching Elfangor’s last stand against Visser Three (Visser is a Yeerk rank, typically treated as an equivalent to general. There are 42, ranked by number with lower number Vissers being senior to higher numbers.) Visser Three is the leader of the invasion of Earth, and is also the only Yeerk to ever take an Andalite as his host, thus gaining morphing capability of his own. Visser Three and Elfangor have some serious history, and his personal slaying of Elfangor does a lot to boost his credit as a villain. Visser Three is almost cartoonishly megalomanical, yet can be deadly serious. In virtually every book he will a.) turn into a terrible monster from another world to combat the animorphs (long before I heard of 40K, animorphs convinced me the universe must be a very scary place) and b.) murder one or more of his subordinates for almost no good reason. Yet somehow, he never really seems incompetent, and whenever he enters you know it just got real and the animorphs need to fight as hard as they ever have or flee.

Anyways, after seeing Elfangor die, the kids barely get out of the construction site alive. They spends a day or so playing with their new powers, then Tobias tells them what Elfangor explained in his last moments, that the Yeerks must leave their hosts every 3 days to feed in a Yeerk Pool. This largely consists of absorbing ‘Kandrona rays’ (Kandrona is the Yeerk’s star, but they have a device that artificially generates Kandrona rays) but also of drinking in some nutrients from the brownish sludge the pool is comprised of. Marco suspects that a local community/family group, the Sharing, is a front for the Yeerks. Problem is Jake’s (the de facto leader and 1st viewpoint character) older brother Tom is a member in good standing of that organization. You see where this is going, of course Tom is revealed as a controller. Marco is also able to identify one of the Human Controllers from the construction site, Mr. Chapman, the vice-principal of their school.

The kids head off to the Gardens, a sort of combined zoo and amusement park to acquire some animals capable of combat. Of course these are all dangerous animals, but while being acquired they sink into a peaceful trance and remain so for a little while (long enough to scurry out of their enclosure anyway.) Jake acquires a tiger, Cassie acquires a wolf (and a horse earlier in the book,) Marco a gorilla, Tobias a hawk, and Rachel acquires both an elephant and a grizzly bear.

The animorphs infiltrate the Yeerk pool after Jake morphs a small lizard to spy on Chapman and finds a secret passage in their school’s janitor closet. They find the Pool is an underground cavern almost the size of a small town, with over a thousand people in it and bulldozers and earthmovers constantly working to expand it. The pool itself is brown and about the size of a pond. There are two metal catwalks going over the pool (though they are constantly called piers) one for Yeerks to leave their hosts, and one for re-infestation. The people who beg, scream, cry, try to escape or try to kill themselves when the Yeerk leaves them are hauled off to one side and stuck in cages for an hour or two until they’re dragged to the re-infestation pier. Voluntary Controllers (collaborators, in other words) are not allowed to leave without their Yeerk, but can spend the same time period in one of the various diners, bars and tv dens that are also waiting at the end of the pier. Provided they can stomach all the screaming and begging from the cage area, of course.

However, Cassie is captured by a controller-cop who previously dropped by her farm looking for “some kids who set off fireworks at the construction site.” The other animorphs find a dark corner and morph into their assorted combat-animals, rescuing Cassie and a few other human hosts. Visser Three shows up and mistakes the animorphs for other andalite survivors of the space battle, an impression the kids do their best to reinforce to stave off an investigation that would actually reveal them. Visser Three morphs and eight-headed fire-breathing monstrosity and the kids barely escape. Tobias is separate from the group but is able to escape on his own, however he exceeds the time limit and becomes trapped in the form of a red-tailed hawk. So, for their first reconnaissance mission, the animorphs learn nothing of use, accomplish nothing of substance and are fortunate to escape with their lives.

Also, one of their number is now a bird.

Alright, since the book exists to introduce the characters, and I’ll be mentioning them at least in passing a lot I suppose I should. The books have a rotation of the 6 major characters so everyone gets a viewpoint story at least once in every 10 books. Specifically, in every group of 10 books the first and sixth books will be about Jake, the second and seventh are narrated by Rachel, the third by Tobias, the fourth and ninth by Cassie, the fifth and tenth by Marco, and Ax is always the eighth. So Jake stars in books 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, 31, 36 etc.

Jake is the young man who becomes the de facto leader of the animorphs. He’s Rachel’s cousin, Marco’s best friend, and in a long standing ‘will they-won’t they’ back and forth with Cassie. Before leading a guerilla war against a vastly superior enemy, Jake liked basketball and videogames. His big brother Tom is a high-ranking controller, and freeing Tom is pretty much the core motivation behind Jake, that and not failing the responsibility the others thrust on him.

Rachel is Jake’s cousin and Cassie’s best friend. She is a gymnast and deeply involved in all the great superficialities of being a teenage girl in America, fashion, shopping and teen mags. Her parents are divorced, though her dad visits her sometimes, and she has two younger sisters. Rachel is very gung-ho about fighting the Yeerks, and most of her character arc is built around her growing dark side as she becomes prepared to go further and sacrifice more to stop the Yeerks.

Tobias begins as the outsider of the group, he isn’t really close friends with any of the others, but is pathetically devoted to Jake who once saved Tobias from some bullies. Tobias never met his parents before the start of the series (and there is a very long story there. I’ll get to it.) but has spent his life being shuffled back and forth between a highly negligent aunt and uncle. Of course, in the first book he is trapped as a bird of prey, which he eventually accepts. It makes him more of an outsider to begin with, since he can’t accompany the others on many dangerous missions, but this changes later on.

Cassie is Rachel’s best friend and Jake’s potential love interest. She lives on a farm near town, and her barn quickly becomes the place the animorphs meet to talk and plan. Her parents are both vetinarians, her mom works for the Gardens (local zoo) while her Dad runs a Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic out of the barn, wherein he takes in injured animals found at the side of highways and with Cassie’s help nurses them back to health and turns them loose. Cassie’s extensive knowledge and easy access to animals is typically used to provide morphs to get the animorph’s missions done. She is also highly principled, and the first to object to any morally questionable plan.

Marco is Jake’s best friend since middle school. His dad is a computer programmer somewhat down on his luck. His mother is “dead” (also a long story) and even 2 years later his father is not coping well. Marco provides most of the humor for the books, which is mostly sarcastic and cynical. However, more than any of the others, Marco can be ruthlessly pragmatic. Marco spends the first 4 books complaining how insane and suicidal fighting the Yeerks is, but after his first POV book he finds reason to continue and only complains, at length, that this particular mission/plan is insane or suicidal.

Ax, I’ll get to when he’s introduced.

The books had a wide variety of aliens. 80% of these were horrific monsters from beyond the stars that Visser Three would turn into. Many of the rest were slaves of the Yeerks. The most iconic and common:
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Andalites. The good guys. Most of the time. Will cover a fair bit on their society later. They absorb nutrients from crushed grasses through their hooves, communicate with telepathy, and while their tail blades are not envenomed, they are very, very fast and sharp enough to remove limbs and heads.

Image

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Hork-Bajir, one with a female andalite. Also called aliens-as-designed-by-cuisinart, and seven-foot blade monsters. Actually a peaceful race of tree-herders enslaved by the Yeerks and used as shock troops in their war against the andalites.

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Taxxon. Almost all Taxxons are voluntary controllers, and they are typically employed by the Yeerks as pilots, technicians and engineers. Taxxons are gluttons, at every moment terrified of not having enough food, unable to control their hunger. If given the chance, they will gorge themselves until they burst. If injured, they will use their last breath to nibble on their own innards. Even the Yeerks cannot control the hunger when they scent fresh blood, so Taxxons tend to go into feeding frenzies. A sentient race that sold their freedom and their souls for food.

Book 2: the Visitor

Rachel is worried about a friend, Melissa’s behavior. Since Melissa is the daughter of Chapman, the highest ranking controller they know of besides Visser Three, she convinces the other animorphs to help her infiltrate the Chapman household.

Oh, and they actually they develop some rules to follow in this book, and promptly ignore half of them. The other half will take a while. First are some common sense things, don’t morph where anyone can see them, try not to stay in morph longer than 90 minutes if reasonably practical. No morphing for personal reasons (the first and most frequently broken.) No killing human controllers if it can be at all avoided, though this does not extend to any of the alien controllers who are just as likely to be innocent victims of the Yeerks. No morphing other humans, at least not without their explicit permission.

After this, Rachel infiltrates the house twice alone by morphing Melissa’s cat, and finds the source of her friend’s problem: Daddy is so cold and distant ever since he started managing a planetary invasion. She finds that Chapman has a communication device in his basement for reaching the Blade Ship. Visser three shows off some of those management skills by threatening Chapman with death if he can’t find the “andalite bandits” and morphing a Varnax (predator from the homeworld that wraps it’s jaws around a host and hoovers the Yeerk out) just to intimidate Chapman over the holo-videophone.

The second time Rachel gets busted, thrown into a cat-carrier and taken off to the construction site to meet Mr. Nice-Visser. The other animorphs are able to create a diversion by wrecking a grounded Bug Fighter with an earth mover. For the second time in a row, the animorphs learn nothing of tactical significance, accomplish almost nothing, and are lucky to escape with their lives. The resistance to the alien invader is off to a great start. We do learn that Chapman and his wife became voluntary controllers so their daughter would be spared, and even as a host he can make things a bit troublesome on the yeerks if they renege.

Book 3: the Encounter

(Or, I need to stop summarizing everything if I ever want to finish)

Mostly this book is about Tobias personally coming to grips with his new life as a bird-of-prey. In the beginning he is living in Jake’s attic, eating leftover meat smuggled to him. By the end, he has claimed a territory in the woods and hunts his own food. He also discovers a cloaked object moving through the air and killing a bunch of geese. This turns out to be a truck ship, which comes down from the Yeerk fleet in orbit and sucks up large amounts of water from isolated lakes then flies back, taking a long slow cruise through the atmosphere to pick up breathable air each way. The group infers from this that the Yeerks “aren’t like Star Trek” and can’t make their own air and water. They decide to sabotage the truck ship, infiltrating it by morphing trout and coming up with the water intake. Except it turns out the rest of the ship is not accessible from the water tank. Tobias steals a Dracon Beam (raygun sidearm) from a security controller on the ground and shoots up the bridge, crashing the ship.

The rest of the gang also picks up wolf morphs (they’ll use them a lot) and exactly one book after coming up with the rules, Tobias convinces Rachel to morph an elephant and wreck a used-car dealers as a diversion while Tobias freed the dealership’s mistreated hawk mascot. Subtle, but I’m sure it was a worthy cause. For once, the Animorphs achieve something by destroying some enemy infrastructure. We never see any serious effects to the Yeerks from this act (perhaps they had more ships?) but not bad for a first time.

Book 4: the Message.

We start with Cassie morphing a squirrel to find out what’s breaking into her barn and killing the animals. It’s a fox. This thrilling adventure over, we can get to the A plot. Tobias and Cassie are having weird dreams about the ocean and a voice calling to them. Since they can’t exactly call a shrink, and some wreckage washes up on the beach with apparently Andalite writing on it, they decide it must be an SOS from a second survivor of the Andalite ship. When they investigate the wreckage they find controllers, and overhear them talking. Turns out Visser Three is also having dreams/visions, and threw a Hork-Bajir out an airlock for disturbing his concentration.

After a few adventures in the life of a dolphin/stowaway, they find the Dome. What’s that you ask? Well, all sizeable Andalite ships are Dome Ships. Andalites, being plain creatures are notoriously claustrophobic. They’ll endure a roof over their heads for a while, if it means they don’t freeze, get rained on or suck vacuum, but only for as long as absolutely necessary. To alleviate this, all Andalite ships maintain a hologram of sky on the ceilings and much of the walls, and their decks are covered with grass. Still, there are limits, which is why every warship intended for long deployments has a domed park so they can run around for a few kilometers under the stars. Naturally, this is something of an impediment to actual combat, but the Andalites have seen TNG, so the dome separates from the rest of the ship when maneuvering is needed. This is what the Dome Ship Galaxy Tree did, leaving a single crewman, Elfangor’s kid brother Aximili (Ax) in the Dome when the rest of the ship was destroyed, the Dome crashed in the ocean.

Ax is initially suspicious and hostile, but agrees to come with them when the Yeerks start depth charging the Dome. They escape in dolphin form (except Ax who morphs a shark) and are pursued by Visser Three who morphs a ‘Mardut’ sot of a bright red, toothed humpback whale, with a thousand tiny flailing fishtails all over its body to help with locomotion, and three large squirt-bladders for the same purpose. Apparently comes from one of Andalite’s moons. I’m not going to break down and rant about the alien ecologies yet, but its coming. The kids can’t outrun Visser Three, but he is suddenly attacked by a pod of humpback whales (In these books, whales are sentient, just difficult to communicate with, earlier they saved a whale from sharks.) and the kids make it to shore. Ax pledges allegiance to Jake as his prince, then combines the DNA of the four kids to make a human morph that’s a person distinct from any of them.

Book 5: the Predator

Ax wants to go home, and report on the destruction of the Galaxy Tree and that the Yeerks have committed far more resources to the subjugation of Earth than the Andalites ever believed. To facilitate this, Ax will build an advanced com unit to send a distress signal, luring a Bug Fighter, the Animorphs will ambush the crew (one Taxxon, one Hork-Bajir) and Ax can fly the Fighter back to his homeworld.

They pick up some supplies from Radio Shack, but need a Z-Space transponder. Zero-Space, or Z-Space is the FTL in Animorphs. Basically there exists a point outside the universe, which is equidistant to every point in the universe. Ships and transmissions can thus be sent anywhere, but voyages through Z-Space still take weeks or months, longer if Z-Space “reconfigures” itself which it does periodically, while Z-Space com is real time from the other end of the galaxy. There are ‘strategic points in Z-space and the Andalites at least can derive energy from Z-Space. To say the least, it’s treated somewhat inconsistently.

The only Z-Space transponder they know of on the ground is in Chapman’s basement (continunity!) To get it they morph ants but are a.) almost overwhelmed by the ants’ sheer mindlessness and b.) almost ripped to shreds by a rival ant colony. New rule, never morphing ants again.

They put together the transmitter, but the Yeerks are shockingly not taken in, and ambush the Animorphs’ ambush. They are captured and taken still in battle-morph form to the Yeerk Mothership, a powerful jellyfish like spacecraft that will never be seen or heard from again. It turns out Visser Three is entertaining his technical superior and rival, Visser One. One is the one who discovered Earth for the Yeerk Empire, founded the Sharing and is their foremost expert on humanity, so it’s only natural that she’d have next-to-nothing to do with the invasion of Earth. Visser One is also the Yeerk controlling Marco’s previously-believed-dead mother, having faked her death to get back into the wider galaxy. Visser One arranges to surreptitiously release the Animorphs to disgrace Visser Three, and they all go home. Except Ax. Because the universe hates him.
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LadyTevar
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-01 09:54pm 

White Mage


Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17645
Location: Tahalshia Manor
I'd always wondered if these were any good...
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Tanasinn
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-01 10:29pm 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2007-01-21 11:10pm
Posts: 1704
Location: Void Zone
For books that were targeted at young adolescents, they're not bad. All in all, it ends up being a pretty grim setting by the end.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-02 12:15am 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
LadyTevar wrote:
I'd always wondered if these were any good...


Well, I certainly liked the books very much as a kid. A large part of the reason I'm doing this is to see how much nostalgia may have tinted my view. You are, of course, most welcome to come along for the ride, Milady.

Book 6: the Capture

Jake experiments with morphing a cockroach. With some trial and error, he learns to interpret sound and speech as a roach. This is all because he thinks something big is going down with the Sharing and Tom. He shares the cockroach morph with the others and they infiltrate a Sharing meeting with Tom, Chapman, and “Mr. Visser.” Turns out the Yeerks have subverted and infested the entire staff of the local hospital which they plan to turn into a controller-factory, slipping a Yeerk into the head of everyone who stays overnight, gets surgery etc. Phase two of their plan, in just over a week the governor of their state will be checking in for hemorrhoids surgery, and will be infested.

The Animorphs infiltrate the hospital, this time morphing flies. They find a Jacuzzi being used as a makeshift yeerk pool, and Jake hooks it up again and turns it on. Later in the books, much is made of the morality of killing Yeerks while they’re helpless in a pool, but not here. There’s a running battle, the hospital gets wrecked, the governor is saved… but in the process Jake falls into the Jacuzzi and is infested.

The other Animorphs eventually catch on, and tie Jake up in a shack in the woods. Ax morphs Jake to impersonate him. He tries to escape by morphing a few times, but the other Animorphs are on top of every attempt. After three days the yeerk is starved and dies, Jake has many trippy hallucinations including the memories of the yeerk’s previous hosts (a Hork-Bajir and Tom) and a vision of a cyborg monstrosity on a massive throne a great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame. Applegate is a big Tolkien fan, we’ll get back to that later.

Book 7: the Stranger

Marco and Ax find another entrance to the Yeerk Pool, the one in the school having been sealed off after the first book. This one is behind a dressing room mirror at the mall. Ax has an idea that if they could destroy the Kandrona, the device feeding the Yeerks, they could slow the invasion almost to a halt. They enter the Pool as roaches hoping to find the Kandrona, but a Taxxon eats them. Then time stops.

We now meet the Ellimist, sort of the Animorphs version of Q. Like Q, the Ellimist is an omnipotent jackass with a strange sense of humor, a love of games, and more than a bit of the trickster about him. Elly generally comes off as more benevolent than Q, his screwing with the Animorphs serving a higher purpose than his own amusement. See the Ellimist is involved in a long game with another omnipotent entity, Crayak, the thing Jake saw when his yeerk died. Crayak is a sociopath who wants to destroy all life in amusing and painful ways. Every time one of them intervenes in mortal affairs, the other gets to as well. So they each spend eternity trying to outfox each other, accomplishing the most with the least possible actions.

I could see Q becoming like the Ellimist, if he felt the need to protect the universe from a being like Crayak. That was pretty much the plot of the Q Continuum novel anyways. And I can see the Ellimist testing and playing with people out of boredom like Q, if he didn’t have that responsibility.

The Ellimist introduces himself, which makes go all funny, since the Ellimist is the closest thing ancient Andalites had to a god. The modern Andalite, of course, has outgrown all such silly superstitions. The Ellimist claims that their fight is already lost, and offers to take the Animorphs and their families to another world as a sort of nature preserve. To show them he means it he shows them the future with the Yeerks victorious. In the process ‘accidently’ letting them see where the Kandrona is, on the top floor of their cities tallest building, the EGS tower. The Animorphs find the Kandrona, an alien machine the size of a Volkswagen and Rachel destroys it by morphing a grizzly bear and pushing it out the window so it shatters on the ground.

The Ellimist pops up once more to tell them that even he can’t see the future, and they might actually win.

Book 8: the Alien.

The first Ax book. Right when the kids are commenting that it’s been a week since they destroyed the Kandrona and they should have seen something by now, a person in the street starts raving about the Yeerks. Just as the kids are starting to celebrate, men in black take away the person, and their last glimpse of the man is his being injected with something. Ax tells the others that now the Yeerks will be killing security risks. The others naturally want to know why Ax didn’t mention this before.

This story explores a lot of Ax, his culture and identity as the alien outsider. The conflict is especially between how much tell the others thanks to the Andalite’s Prime Directive, the law of Seerow’s Kindness. Prince Seerow was the Andalite who made first contact with the Yeerks, back when they had a tribal level of technology. Seerow taught the Yeerks some advanced math, science, art, etc. and they stole a ship and launched a multigenerational campaign of galactic conquest. Elfangor broke this law by giving them morphing technology, and Ax must also wrestle with the idea that his idolized brother broke such a fundamental law.
The Andalite cultural ideal is that of a perfect warrior/scientist/artist equally at home in the battlefield, the lab and cloud-sculpting, and they tend to receive a very broad-based education for it. That said, as a purely practical matter some specialization is inevitable, and it’s questionable how much the reality of an Andalite can ever gel with the ideal. Andalites can be a touch sexist, but only where it involves female warriors, and are generally openly scornful towards cripples. They have a series of rituals done at least twice a day, not exactly religious, but reaffirming their dedication to duty. They have a somewhat inflated sense of pride and honor. Unlike certain aliens I could name, the honor thing doesn’t come up much, but when it does Ax is implacable.

Ax visits Marco in his human morph and mistakes Marco’s dad’s work for a small children’s game on Andalite. A game called “spot and fix the grossly obvious programming errors and inefficiencies.” Marco’s dad, by the way is an engineer, and was working on code for a radio telescope. When Marco confronts Ax about this, he realizes that with a couple of software tweaks, he can turn the radio telescope into a Z-space transmitter capable of reaching his homeworld. He does so, takes responsibility for Elfangor’s choice to give five kids morphing technology, and talks to his family who remind him that as the now-eldest son it is his duty to avenge Elfangor by killing Visser Three.

At this point, their conversation is interrupted by a human controller. But its okay, this controller is something of a disgruntled employee (what? But Visser Three was always so good with employee relations!) You see, the Yeerks do have another Kandrona, in a Pool Ship in orbit. However, by itself it cannot sustain every Yeerk, and there are considerable logistical issues involved in shuttling people up and down every three days. After the destruction of one Kandrona, Visser Three is unwilling to move the other from the security of a ship in orbit. So he’s chosen to save the most important (well-placed) Yeerks and let the rest starve. This Yeerk fell in love with another Yeerk through the medium of their hosts (Yeerk reproduction is… unusual) and is somewhat hacked off that she wasn’t important enough to save. More to the point, he knows where Visser Three’s feeding ground is. The Yeerk may need Kandrona rays, but that Andalite body still needs nutrition.

Ax morphs a rattlesnake to ambush Visser Three, unaware of the other Animorphs following him. He is completely prepared to die doing his duty. He manages to bite the Visser, but while he’s demorphing to administer the coup de grace, Visser Three manages to crawl to a nearby stream and bail from his host. Ax chats a bit with Alloran, the host, who begs Ax to mercy kill him since the Yeerks will find Visser Three soon and recapture him. Ax denies the request, unable to kill a fellow Andalite, and for some reason it never occurs to Alloran to do the deed himself, make a serious escape attempt or morph one of his 1001 nightmare morphs and go down in a blaze of glory. Instead Alloran asks Ax to pass on to his family that he’s still alive and hasn’t given up hope.

Ax passes on that message before deleting all his altered code. The whole incident somehow convinces him he has to come clean with the other Animorphs, so he explains about the Law of Seerow’s Kindess and is shocked that they don’t immediately blame the Andalites and him personally for the Yeerk invasion. The others start questioning him about trivialities about Andalite culture and biology and the book ends.

Couple other things. Ax makes himself a ‘scoop’ in the woods. A ‘scoop’ is an Andalite home, it basically consists of a large bowl-like depression in the ground big enough for a sleeping area and a few worktables. One corner has a roof so they have somewhere to sleep when it rains. Ax’s scoop, being only big enough for him has a folding metal roof. All andalites live in family scoops, according to Ax. They tried building cities in their ancient history, didn't like them. The only city-like things on Andalite is their spaceports, where ships are assembled and launched. The kids give him a World Almanac, and he waxes poetical about humanity’s explosion technological development since the Renaissance and how in a few hundred years we may be teaching the Andalites science. A sadly typical bit of sci-fi.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-02 11:48pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Book 9: the Secret

A bit thin on technical or character insight. The Yeerks are still a bit hacked off over the whole Kandrona thing, and start a logging company as an excuse to tear apart the nearby forest looking for Andalites. The Andalites infiltrate the logging company’s headquarters, getting through the force field by morphing termites. Mindful of their previous experiences, they collect a termite to acquire that already lives around the building. Unfortunately, their human minds are unable to override their termite bodies need to obey cues from the queen, until Cassie tricks her termite brain into thinking the queen is an invading ant and killing it. The no ant rule is expanded into ‘no social insects.’


Turns out even though the Yeerks have already started logging operations, they still haven’t technically gotten permission to cut down trees in a protected forest. Of the three officials who get to decide, one is for it, one against, and one is reserving judgment until he can inspect their facilities personally. Naturally the Yeerks plan to ambush and forcibly infest that one. There’s also a subplot about Cassie adopting a family of skunk kits, morphing their injured mother to take care of them until momma skunk heals up. This is important later, when Cassie morphs a skunk and hoses Visser Three in the face three times. Everybody escapes, the logging company is sunk and the world is safe from the menace of the alien lumberjacks. Visser Three turns himself purple because the Animorphs claimed grape juice would get rid of the smell, and no controller has the suicidal balls to contradict Visser Three when he demands truckloads of grape juice to bathe in.


Book 10: the Android


There’s something weird going on with Erek King, an acquaintance of Jake and Marco’s. First, he’s handing out fliers for the Sharing, second he doesn’t smell human to a dog morph. Upon further investigation, morphing spider to see a different spectra of light, Erek appears to be a mechanical bipedal dog skeleton within a glowing human shape. Which is pretty much what he is. If you didn’t catch it from the title, Erek is an android.


Erek and his people, the Chee, were created by a pacifist race called the Pemalites, basically bipedal dogs. Eons ago, the Pemalites seeded the galaxy with much of the life presently existing there, until they were wiped out by a race called the Howlers. The last Pemalites came to Earth with the Chee, who infused their ‘essence’ into wolves, making the final transition from semi-domesticated wolves to dogs. The Chee have been living among humanity for millennia, using their walking-holodeck nature to pass themselves as human and look after their master’s final legacy.


Presently, the Chee are divided between those who want to continue business-as-usual and those who think the Yeerks need to be stopped. Erek and a few friends have infiltrated the Sharing by receiving Yeerks into a containment area in their heads, they can provide Kandrona rays and holographic trickery convinces the Yeerks that a Yeerk regularly leaves their heads to swim in the pool. Even so, the Chee are totally constrained against violence by their programming, otherwise between their physical abilities, holographic abilities, hacking skills and intellects the war against the Yeerks would take an afternoon.


But there is a way around that. The Yeerks have recently acquired a Pemalite Crystal, a supercomputer in the form of grape-sized diamond. They’re going to use it to monitor/hack every computer with internet access simultaneously, but the Chee could use it to alter their own programming. A matter of some considerable controversy to them.


But the crystal is kept under incredible security. Only someone capable of turning into a bug to get into the ventilation, and then a bat to navigate the high-security dark room could possibly get i… oh wait, that’s exactly what they have and do. Except now they can’t carry it out as bats, so they have to assume battle-morphs and fight their way out. However, this being a high security facility there are almost a hundred Hork-Bajir who cut the Animorphs down until Marco, mortally wounded and at the end of his strength, breaks a window Erek is waiting beyond and gives him the crystal. Marco, the viewpoint character for this book, passes out immediately after, but it seems it took Erek less than a minute to delete his nonviolence directive, slaughter at least 40 Hork-Bajir with his bare hands, drag the Animorphs to safety and administer life-saving first aid. Erek is so traumatized by the orgy of violence that he immediately resumes his pacifist programming, agreeing only to provide the Animorphs with intelligence on the Yeerks.


Erek entrusts the Pemalite crystal to Jake, who after some consideration throws it into the ocean, commenting that it may turn up one day when people need it, or are ready for it.


Also, at one point in this book Marco asks Ax about how morphing works in a universe with conservation of matter, and almost immediately wishes he hadn’t. It seems the morphing technology is deeply involved with the Andalites’ study of Zero-Space. Whenever possible, the morphing process retasks matter that is already there, but when they morph something larger, energy from Z-Space is drawn on to make the difference. When they morph something smaller, their mass is extruded into Z-space like a fleshy balloon, tethered by a special connection to their bodies. It is theoretically possible, though Ax is quick to add that it’s never happened to his knowledge, for ships using Z-space to ‘run over’ a morpher’s mass balloon and completely disintegrate it. Because the Animorphs really needed one more thing to keep them up at night.


Book 11: the Forgotten.


Controllers are swarming over a temporarily closed, wrecked store. When the Animorphs investigate, it turns out the Yeerks crashed a prototype for the next generation of Bug Fighters, much faster with upgraded weapons. Seized by a mad impulse, Jake decides to steal the Fighter and fly it to the White House, presenting it, Ax, and their morphing abilities as proof of an alien invasion. A pair of fighter jets go after them, and while they easily outrun the planes, now they’re lost and head up into orbit to get their bearings, but are intercepted by the Blade Ship. Both ships fire their weapons at the same moment, and tumble out of control, crash-landing in the South American rain forest.


Actually they land in the jungle 12 hours before they took off in the Fighter. Okay kids, this is where it gets complicated. It is theorized by Andalite physicists that some very large energy discharges can create a random time-travel effect called a Sario Rip. The whole day before Jake was having weird visions of being in the rain forest, now he has weird visions of being at home. Ax believes that Jake is somehow the only one of them actually in two places at once, the rest are Schrodinger’s Cat, neither here nor there, and that they must duplicate the accident that created the Sario Rip before their past selves create the Sario Rip or risk a universe-destroying paradox. Somehow. It isn’t really made clear why they can’t just wait 12 hours and move on with their lives after their past selves go to the past. Whatever, I’ll just roll with it for now, it’s helped some by Ax’s admission that he’s mostly guessing and wasn’t really paying attention when they covered time travel in school. To recreate the firing, they’ll need the Blade Ship, so both ships can fire at each simultaneously, and because their computer records will be needed to duplicate the accident precisely. They navigate the perilous rain forest a bit, acquire monkey and jaguar morphs, befriend a couple of Spanish-speaking tribesmen who think they’re monkey-spirits and help them overcome the Hork-Bajir around the Blade Ship.


Visser Three morphs a creature with a thousand tentacles (must…resist…cheap joke) kills most of the natives, and most of the Animorphs. Jake and the Visser get a mutual kill, Jake in monkey-form driving a poisoned spear into Visser Three’s heart in the same moment that Visser Three snaps Jake’s neck. Then Jake is suddenly back around the beginning of the story, as they’re preparing to investigate the crash site. Jake aborts the mission, to the other’s confusion. Jake asks Ax about it, and he has no memory of their trip through time, but sits up when Jake mentions the words Sario Rip. Ax theorizes that since Jake’s consciousness was occupying two places at once, it simply snapped together once one Jake was killed. Jake cannot use either of the morphs he acquired during the Sario Rip, and Ax informs him this is because objectively speaking, none of it ever happened. Of course, he informs Jake for what he believes to be the first time, he didn’t really pay attention the day they covered time-travel in school…


Book 12: the Reaction.


Rachel saves a young girl from a crocodile pit at the zoo, by acquiring the crocodile and thus putting it into a trance long enough for help to arrive. The Sharing is getting some teen heartthrob actor Rachel has a crush on as a spokesman. More interesting is that after the crocodile pit incident, Rachel morphs a crocodile quite against her will, then into a fly, then an elephant without stopping at human in-between, something typically impossible.


From what I can understand of Ax’s technobabble, the morphing technology keeps the DNA of morphs as a blueprint, with a few hundred or thousand animal cells mixed up in the user’s bloodstream. Normally, the morphing technology (through magic) smoothes over any immune response or rejection. But occasionally, randomly, irreconcilable incompatibilities happen. He likens it to an allergy, Rachel is “allergic” to the crocodile DNA, and so will morph uncontrollably whenever she feels a strong emotion. Thank god she’s a teenage girl who just found out her first crush is willing to sell out humanity for more cash, they’re known the world over for their emotional stability.


Luckily there are safeguards in the morphing tech, so instead of getting really sick like a normal infusion of strange foreign cells, Rachel will undergo macro-scale mitosis and split into a girl and a crocodile. She sees a chance to get close to actor-boy when she’s invited to appear on the same talk-show (as the girl who fell into a crocodile pit, then had her house mysteriously collapse on the same day) but the others won’t let her take on a dangerous mission until she’s done with the allergic reaction. So naturally she lies about going through the splitting process, actually grows a crocodile backstage on the show, and hilarity ensues. Actor-boy’s Yeerk bails on him when the croc starts chewing on his leg, and Rachel steps on it. After a couple days of being a controller, the actor decides that maybe selling his freedom wasn’t his best move and retreats into seclusion. Happy ending all around.


Oh, and in a chase scene when the Animorphs were caught spying on Visser Three and the actor, the Visser morphed a “javelin fish” like a massive yellow manta-ray with a series of barbs on its back. The fish inflates itself with water, draws one of the barbs into its mouth, then sends it shooting out with the pressurized water.



Book 13: the Change.

Tobias is going to perform routine surveillance on a Yeerk Pool entrance at a gas station when he realizes that he was lost in thought and happens to have flown over a different, previously unknown entrance in a fake tree in the woods, just as a Hork-Bajir happens to be escaping, because when he was caged up while his Yeerk was out, the lock broke by freak chance. And as Tobias helps direct the Hork-Bajir to escape his pursuers, he finds a conveniently hidden cave that’s right there. The Hork-Bajir is named Jara Hamee, and he says that a strange voice told him to make a break for it, and that ‘a guide’ would be waiting. Within six hours of Jara Hamee’s escape his mate, Ket Halpak, also gets loose in a similarly implausible chain of events that culminates in Tobias stumbling across her right when Visser Three had her cornered. When the Animorphs discuss what to do with the only free Hork-Bajir in this part of the galaxy, maybe anywhere, Tobias realizes that he just happens to know where there’s a sheltered and hidden valley that he’s been to or seen before. Wow, it’s been six whole books since the Ellimist dicked with them, I suppose we were due.


When they figure it out, the Ellimist appears to Tobias and promises him that which he most wants in exchange for his help with this project. Eager to think of his humanity restored, Tobias agrees. Then the whole group gets to go on the hike from hell, trying to stay ahead of all the heavily armed search parties, helicopters, etc. It doesn’t help that the two Hork-Bajir eat tree bark (all those blades are for stripping it from trees) and aren’t all that bright, so see no problem with stripping some bark from every tree they pass. Tobias flies away from the group a moment for recon/hunting some breakfast when he gets caught in the vacuum effect of a chopper, breaks his wings and finds himself on the ground at the mercy of a raccoon. The Ellimist tells Tobias accept his reward and free himself from this situation, using the power Elfangor gave him. Tobias acquires and morphs the raccoon, then rages to the heavens that this wasn’t their deal, he wanted to be human.


Tobias rejoins the group, now convinced that the Yeerks won’t stop until Jara and Ket are dead, lest all the Hork-Bajir develop hope. Thus, he comes up with a plan to fake their deaths. Tobias and Rachel morph the two Hork-Bajir and let themselves be seen, before running off a cliff. When Visser Three goes up to the edge, he sees two Hork-Bajir (the real ones) lying still, apparently dead and wolves already starting to eat them. Visser Three decides to leave the bodies to the wolves and goes home. The Animorphs lead the Hork-Bajir to their new home, and are told that Ket Halpak is pregnant. The Ellimist appears to Tobias and takes him back in time, letting him acquire his past self a week before meeting Elfangor. So now Tobias can be human, for two hours at a time, unless he feels like quitting the fight entirely.
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Faqa
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-04 06:50am 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2004-06-02 09:32am
Posts: 1340
I think somebody's been diving into Cinnamon Bunzuh! :D

Not that I find, I used to love this series. It actually tackled silly things like moral ambiguity. The only completely evil character was the Visser himself. There were NO completely good characters. The morality was.... not deep, but deeper than you'd find in a lot of children's entertainment. The first two Chronicles books STILL stand up as pretty damn good, as you'll find out. It didn't have 54 books worth of material, it really didn't, but it had enough. And the finale? Excellent.

The cultural references, though, are painfully dated, from the continual comparisons of Rachel to Xena: Warrior Princess and Marco complaining about missing Buffy.

It's just a shame they never made a TV show of it. That would have been cool.
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Captain Seafort
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-04 06:55am 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2008-10-10 11:52am
Posts: 1164
Location: Blighty
Faqa wrote:
It's just a shame they never made a TV show of it. That would have been cool.


They did. It was your typical 90s kids show, with effects that made DW look state of the art.
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Faqa
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-04 07:40am 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2004-06-02 09:32am
Posts: 1340
There was not. There was an unconnected piece of shit that shared the same name.
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Captain Seafort
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-04 07:50am 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2008-10-10 11:52am
Posts: 1164
Location: Blighty
Faqa wrote:
There was not. There was an unconnected piece of shit that shared the same name.


That's what I said, didn't I?
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-04 03:20pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Faqa wrote:
I think somebody's been diving into Cinnamon Bunzuh! :D

Not that I find, I used to love this series. It actually tackled silly things like moral ambiguity. The only completely evil character was the Visser himself. There were NO completely good characters. The morality was.... not deep, but deeper than you'd find in a lot of children's entertainment. The first two Chronicles books STILL stand up as pretty damn good, as you'll find out. It didn't have 54 books worth of material, it really didn't, but it had enough. And the finale? Excellent.

The cultural references, though, are painfully dated, from the continual comparisons of Rachel to Xena: Warrior Princess and Marco complaining about missing Buffy.

It's just a shame they never made a TV show of it. That would have been cool.


No, but good find. So far this has been from memory, occasionally cheking my physical collection when I couldn't remember a name. Good find though. I'm hoping to do something more like my tech analysis with the Posleen War, looking at the tech (especially morphing tech) and it's limitations as well as the aliens. I find it useful to restate the plot of the books so its somewhat clear where all this is coming from.

I'd argue that Cassie, at least, is an unambigiously good character. You can debate the other Animorphs, the Chee and the Ellimist, but all have strong cases for being white hats. There's also the free Hork-Bajir, Mercora, Leerans and other innocents, human and alien, who lead peaceful lives with violent ends.

I thought the last few books, particularly the final went poorly.

And I didn't really have tv access growing up, so most of the really dated pop culture references didn't mean much to me as a kid either.
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Faqa
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-05 10:16am 

Jedi Master


Joined: 2004-06-02 09:32am
Posts: 1340
I'm going to assume you don't care about spoiling future books in this post:

Cassie was willing to let the Animorphs be captured (and, you know, get humanity enslaved) rather than get her hands dirty killing a little girl in book 19. She nearly threw away the war by letting Tom walk away with the morphing cube in the last few books. Again, to prevent Jake from killing him.

Cassie wanted to be clean. That's not the same as good.

The finale was very good character-wise - you really felt where each character had come. The plot was brain-dead - really, Jake was criminally stupid. But it had the emotional impact a finale should have, nontheless. And the suicidal ending itself? Excellent.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-06 11:00pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Faqa wrote:
I'm going to assume you don't care about spoiling future books in this post:

Cassie was willing to let the Animorphs be captured (and, you know, get humanity enslaved) rather than get her hands dirty killing a little girl in book 19. She nearly threw away the war by letting Tom walk away with the morphing cube in the last few books. Again, to prevent Jake from killing him.

Cassie wanted to be clean. That's not the same as good.


And? She never bought into the convenient ends-justifying-the-means morality that everyone else did at least to an extent. She never accepted having to choose a lesser evil, looking for and most of the time finding a third option. She stuck to her principles even when lives were on the line: hers, her friends, possibly the whole human race.

You can argue that it's incredibly stupid and/or naive of her, under the circumstances not to embrace utilitarian, consequentialist ethics. I'd probably agree with you. But I see a person keeping their moral code in the face of adversity, acknowledging the value of life even when no one would mind and most are encouraging you to abandon it as being the act of a fundamentally good person.

Anyway, funny story. In the originally submitted draft of Animorphs, the Andalites were generic Roswell greys, and the Hork-Bajir vaguely described 'lizard-men.' Scholastic sent the draft back with a pointed request that she make the aliens more distinctive and visually interesting, some say because they were already thinking tv-deal. Offhand, I'd say they got what they wanted and then some.

Moving on again, in addition to 54 short books, there are 8 specials divided into 2 series. Megamorphs are triple-length stories where all the Animorphs get to serve as a viewpoint character. Chronicles are prequels to the main series. I had originally planned to fit all the specials into their publishing order, however I was a touch late looking up the dates.

Here's the first one, Megamorphs 1, it takes place between books 7 and 8, the destruction of the kandrona and Ax's botched asassination respectively. When I have an hour or so, I'll get into the Andalite Chronicles which is properly placed between books 12 and 13.

Megamorphs 1: the Andalite’s Gift.

A strange phenomena is occurring in the Animorph’s city. A ‘freak tornado’ with lots of snapping jaws and spinning blades keeps showing up to level whatever area the kids are presently occupying. Meanwhile Rachel was on her way to gymnastics camp when she was mobbed by tiny birds (she was an eagle while this happened) and flew into a tree. She wakes up human, but with that old writer’s standby sweet, sweet, amnesia. She gets captured by a crazy woman who turns out to be a controller in the final stages of kandrona starvation, but escapes.

The kids notice that the ‘freak tornado’ doesn’t chase them when they aren’t morphed. Ax reveals that there is a particular burst of energy when they morph, and a small but distinctive energy signature around them for as long as they’re morphed. They play tag with the monster for a while, with everybody morphing and demorphing to draw the thing’s attention. First Ax, then Marco are captured by the thing and taken to the Blade Ship.
Ax is thrown in a ‘randomite’ box, a smart metal that can open, close, turn transparent or into bars on command. From the appropriate users of course, a cage that opens at the behest of the prisoner would be all kinds of stupid. Ax however morphs a flea and when Visser Three opens the box to gloat (and almost immediately realizes his mistake) Ax jumps onto him and starts to demorph.

Turns out the thing attacking them is called a Veleek (‘pet’ in Yeerk) and is actually from Saturn. It’s a swarm of voracious insects with an incredible sensitivity to a wide variety of energy sources. Normally, they’d form a massive swarm with the teeth-blade combo to shred whatever was giving off energy, then absorb said energy. Visser Three however has domesticated it, training it to seek sources of morph-energy, restrain them harmlessly and bring them to the Blade Ship, where it is rewarded with power straight from the ship’s own reactors.

Ax’s demorphing causes the Veleek to apparently attack the Visser, and the bridge crew break out fire hoses to defeat it. Ax and Marco leap from the Blade Ship (fortunately still in atmosphere waiting to receive more ‘Andalite bandits’) morphing birds on the way down and just barely making it.

A plan emerges once everyone is gathered together, they know the creature is weak against water and Rachel more or less has her memory back, the daring Operation Anvil. All but Cassie and Tobias swim out to sea and take turns morphing/demorphing dolphins, and the Veleek comes hungry for energy but nor risking the sea. Tobias flies as high as he can bearing Cassie in the shape of a cockroach. When ready, Cassie jumps and dimorphs, catching the Veleek’s attention. As it reaches up to grab her she morphs again… into a humpback whale. Her weight causes the Veleek to smack into the ocean, and though she is stunned, the Veleek is utterly destroyed. Strangely enough, they'll use this exact insane plan of 'drop a whale on the problem' twice more before the series is done.

As an aside, randomite is almost as good as unobtanium, and I urge everyone writing stories with fictional metals to at least consider it.
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Kuja
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-07 02:18am 

The Dark Messenger


Joined: 2002-07-11 12:05am
Posts: 19309
Location: AZ
Quote:
Ax denies the request, unable to kill a fellow Andalite, and for some reason it never occurs to Alloran to do the deed himself, make a serious escape attempt or morph one of his 1001 nightmare morphs and go down in a blaze of glory. Instead Alloran asks Ax to pass on to his family that he’s still alive and hasn’t given up hope.


If I recall correctly, Alloran did try to kill himself, but he was so weak from being dominated by Visser Three for so long that when he tried to do so all he could manage was a feeble twitch of his tail. He was basically a sack of bones lying there on the ground.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-16 11:45pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Kuja wrote:
Quote:
Ax denies the request, unable to kill a fellow Andalite, and for some reason it never occurs to Alloran to do the deed himself, make a serious escape attempt or morph one of his 1001 nightmare morphs and go down in a blaze of glory. Instead Alloran asks Ax to pass on to his family that he’s still alive and hasn’t given up hope.


If I recall correctly, Alloran did try to kill himself, but he was so weak from being dominated by Visser Three for so long that when he tried to do so all he could manage was a feeble twitch of his tail. He was basically a sack of bones lying there on the ground.


Looked it up, you're more right then I was. Alloran was physically fit, though he had to struggle to recall his name. He didn't have the strength to kill himself because of the snake venom Ax pumped into him. Possibly he didn't have the strength or concentration to be able to morph either, but it works sort of inconsistently there, and I don't think they ever tried delaing with poison specifically that way.

Morphing seems to be able to immediatly heal almost any injury or trauma short of actual death. In a later book, Marco is infected with rabies, but his morphing an insect immediatly clears it up. Ax (and Elfangor beforeh im) has a translator chip surgically implanted in his head, but that never stops him from morphing an insect. On an occasion where the Yeerks unknowingly added hardware to the animorphs' brains, they were unable to morph insects because their heads were going to burst. When the kids started morphing they always demorphed naked, but they quickly learn to morph with skintight clothing and shoes, by the series end they could even morph any clothes including shoes. The kids are several times almost killed with insecticide, but are fine once they demorph, thoush that could be because the smaller amount of insecticide isn't enough to harm a massive human being, and we don't know if they clean themselves up before going bug again. So morphing might have been enough to clear up the problem, or it might not.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-19 10:53pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Lots to go over with in the Andalite Chronicles, and I admit to getting sucked into the story all over again. Sadly, while an awesome book in its own right (should really be on a list somewhere as 'THIS is how you write a freaking prequel") there are a couple of plot holes I can see now, mostly in the offhand comments Elfangor makes about physics and Andalite technology. I'll get to them all in due time, right now I'm just going to keep this going, alright?

Book14: the Unknown

Cassie finds a horse trying to use a payphone in the desert. She then witnesses a Yeerk bailing from the horse and dying. Ax says the Yeerks can sometimes modify the brains of lower animals to make viable hosts of them, but he doesn't really see the point in making horse-controllers.

Turns out the horses were one way for the Yeerks to get close to Zone 91 (Area 51) Visser Three heard they have a crashed alien spaceship there, and he's not taking any chances. Marco, Rachel and Cassie investigate, but are forced to demorph inside the fence, and get busted by MPs. After meeting the base commander, one Captain Torrelli, they give up their names; Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and Cindy Crawford (apparently the folks working at Area 51 don't watch the X-files, and Cassie is horrible at both lying and improvising) and their phone numbers; sports scoreboard, pizza hut, and 012-345-6789 (did I mention Cassie was bad at this?) before getting a private moment to morph bugs and escape.

Fearing for their lives if progress is not made, the horse-controllers, with some actual wild horses and the hidden animorphs in tow, just stampede the place and charge right in to the center, finding an alien device that the Yeerks can't identify, but Ax can. The secret of Zone 91 is... an Andalite toilet. Seriously. It's a blue cube with slightly rounded edges and corners and a hole on top. The Andalites stands over it, does his business, the waste gets disintegrated, and whenever the unit's power supply gets used up it gets jettisoned vaguely in the direction of the nearest star.

Not a ton happens after that. Visser Three tries to seize and infest Torrelli and a majority of his men when they all go to the Gardens together, the animorphs stop him, but Torrelli recognizes the kids who were his guests a couple days ago and hilarity ensues when a running fight gets mixed up with a large parade. At least they got the commanding officer of Zone 91 on the evening news asking for information leading to the arrest of Mulder and Scully.

The idea that Yeerks can, with some surgical enhancement infest 'mere' animals will be important exactly once more in the series, in the very next book as it happens.

Book 15: the Escape

Erek King (you remember Erik, right?) pops up to tell the animorphs that there's a major Yeerk operation going down in an underwater facility, that somehow involves ongoing operationso n the planet Leera, a major ongoing campaign between the Yeerks and the Andalites. Also, Visser One (Marco's mom) is back in town and personally overseeing whatever it is they're doing. That information, Erek apparently can't get.

Ax says the Leerans are a technologically advanced race, amphibious, and can read minds within a certain limited range (less than line-of-sight, at least) thus, any Yeerk controlling a Leeran is also a psychic. The Andalites haven't had much to do with them in the past, because of the embarrassment and distrust caused by the Leeran gifts. But they can all agree that Leeran-controllers are bad news for everyone.

They try to scout out the facility, but are driven away by amazingly intelligent, organized hammerhead sharks. They try again after acquiring sharks, and are let right in where holes get drilled into their heads and something shrugged into their brains. Turns out the Yeerks are modifying the sharks to become viable hosts, since Leera is about 90% ocean and completly devoid of predation. The kids can't morph bugs to sneak around, because of their new head-implants, but have some success as birds. Ax rigs the place to self-destruct, figuring all the brain-implants will harmlessly liquidate themselves to prevent discovery. Visser Three shows up in the shape of a sea-serpent to taunt the kids and Visser One before leaving them to die. Visser one has a pet Leeran-Controller who almost spills the beans on the animorphs, but they manage to kill him first, and Marco has to admit to Visser oNe's host being his mom to stop Rachel from killing her.

In a broad plot sense, we learn about the battle for Leera (that'll be important soon) Marco comes clean with the others about his mom, and when tobias acquires a dolphin morph (having regained morphing after their deep-sea adventures so far) he learns that animals don't always go into a trance when acquired.

Book 16: the Warning

Bored, Jake googles the word 'Yeerk.' Imagine his suprise when he finds a website all about the ongoing invasion, with a lot of spurious and false data added, because this is the internet, and even a chat room to discuss Yeerks. Faqa complained earlier that the refrences were dated, I really saw this when the book had to explain what a chat room is.

Not sure if this is a genuine resistance, or a trap. The animorphs stow aboard a flight to the headquarters of Web Access America (you all know what it is) so they can break in and learn the real names behind the screen names. One in particular stands out, Joe Bob Fenstre, billionaire founder of WAA. The animorphs investigate him, but his most thorough security nails even animals, and Rachel and Ax are captured.

Jake morphs a rhino to simply muscle his way through, then confront Joe. Joe is a Controller, Esplin 9466 is his Yeerk name, and he is Visser Three's 'twin.' Seems Yeerks have 3 genders, and 3 Yeerks sort of fuse together into a super-yeerk that cannot take a host but bulks up growing lots of nervous tissue and ganglia all over the place. When this reaches a certain point, the super-yeerk dies, it's body breaks up into a thousand pieces each genetered on a ganglia, and each piece becomes a yeerk grub. Joe's yeerk and Visser Three came from the same grub, a freak occurence that sometimes happens, and they are both properly named Esplin 9466. The yeerks have an odd custom regarding twins, one is immediatly dubbed 'the prime' and given first pick of hosts and assignments, and one 'the lesser' to be content with its twin's leavings.

Esplin rebelled, using yeerk computer knowledge to become rich and powerful. In a fit of pique, Visser Three barred him from the yeerk pool. Esplin is cool with it, though, he's figured out a way to survive without kandrona rays or ever leaving his host, and now Visser Three is desperate for that secret. Well, the secret is that every 3 days, Esplin must grind a fellow yeerk into hamburger and eat him. The yeerk website was absolutely a trap... for Controllers, he knows all the screennames, so anytime someone tries to debunk the site or sabotage the 'resistance' discussion, they make his list. He's killing 120 yeerks a year!

Sadly he's also killing their hosts, since he doesn't have any extraction method more refined then 'split their skulls open and pull the yeerk out.' Marco says give the man a prize, Cassie is horrified. Jake... makes a deal with the devil. In exchange for getting Ax and Rachel back, he is willing to declare the fortified mansion a sanctuary for Esplin. As long as he remains there, the animorphs will not harm him, should he leave his sanctuary...

The story ends shortly after Jake hears that billionaire Joe Bob Fenstre's mansion burned down. He muses that there's no shortage of suspects, vIsser Three, one of the other animorphs, himself.

We learn in this book that both yeerks and andalites have stasis technology, as Ax and Rachel are held in stasis. We learn how yeerk reproduction works, interesting life-cycle, to say the least. We learn of an alternative to kandrona rays, not that it's likely to ever become popular with the yeerks. We learn that a yeerk and an andalite between them almost singlehandedly created the information age. Finally, though he's made many hard calls in battle, this is the first time we see Jake or the others make a serious compromise with evil. The shades of grey only get darker from here, I'm afraid.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-26 12:14am 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
First, an apology. This has become me summarizing the stories, which isn't really what I wanted to do at all. I'll try to keep this minimalist from here on out. If you'd like the books summarized or reviewed for your pleasure, follow Faqa's link to Cinnamon Bunzuh, they're a lot funnier than I am.

Second, the animorphs series is being reprinted, at the same book-a-month rate it was originally published in. They have new covers with morphing holograms, and inside the pop culture references have all been removed or updated. Amusingly, the old official site has pulled down all information that would spoil new readers. Of a series that wrapped up a decade ago.

Book 17: the Underground

The kids learn of a second substitute for kandrona rays, instant maple and ginger oatmeal. Enough of the oatmeal will eventually remove the need for kandrona rays, or any food not mooched from the host entirely. Of course, it’s also highly addictive, leading to eventual insanity around the same time as the virtual immortality.

After a debate on the morality of such tactics, the kids determine to dump a load of oatmeal into the Yeerk pool. They are foiled however by the Yeerks finally taking a hint and getting some serious security around their stronghold. Specifically, they now have Gleet biofilters which disintegrate any unauthorized life-forms trying to pass through an entrance. So they dig their way in as moles.

Yeah, turns out the ceiling of the Yeerk pool cavern is only about 60 feet or so underground. They get inside a batcave just over the pool, and morph bats. They then get shot down and scattered by hunter-killer robots flying silver beach-balls sporting Dracon beams. Funny, somehow I always imagined the HKs looking like Weebo from Flubber.

Some of the Animorphs are captured, but Rachel manages to find the contraband ‘warehouse’ a shack containing 200 lbs of oatmeal confiscated from various junkies. She kicks a few barrels into the Yeerk pool and holds the helpless Yeerks (and Visser Three) hostage for the release of the others. They escape and spread the oatmeal addiction to hundreds of Yeerks.
This story is most significant for the seriously upgraded security around the Yeerk pool. It is nice to see there are still repercussions from their destroying the kandrona, even if benign earth foodstuff = deadly posion/superaddictive drug to aliens is sort of repetitive. Also a small continuing slide into the morally ambiguous. As will become common, the Animorphs debate using a morally questionable tactic. Cassie and Tobias are always against it, Rachel and Marco are always for it, and Ax and Jake vote wherever their conscience takes them this book. This time the vote was close and hotly contested. In the future… this will not always be so.

Book 18: the Decision


A man named Hewlett Aldershot III is lying in a hospital bed. Mr. Aldershot is Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service, and was hit by Chapman’s car so he’d be taken to the hospital and infested. It worked a bit too well, and the Yeerks can’t wake him from the coma he slipped into. Visser Three decides to morph the man so he can at least get close enough to infest his boss, and the Animorphs decide to morph mosquitoes to get a blood sample, morph Aldershot and resign or reveal the invasion before Visser Three can carry out his plan.
However, they are pulled from the hospital into Z-Space, surviving only because of a friendly Andalite ship that was right on top of them. The ship is bound for Leera, where open ground warfare has broken out between the Andalite/Leerans and the invading Yeerks. However, the ship’s captain (an old friend of Elfangor’s no less) is a traitor and once again the Animorphs are lucky to escape with their lives. The Andalites lose the surface war, but it was all a ruse. The Andalites have rigged Leera’s only continent to explode which surely won’t hurt the 90% of Leeran underwater cities that are at most 50 miles from shore, not have any lasting environmental repercussions.

But the Andalites lost the surface battle too quickly and were unable to arm the remote-detonated charges. Only the Animorphs can carry out this dangerous mission behind the lines, because no Andalite has anything like their experience with morphing technology or variety of forms. Except Visser Three, obviously. This is because though every Andalite warrior can use the morphing technology, generally only intelligence operatives have any reason to, and morphing for frivolous reasons is frowned upon. Also, the Animorphs are disappearing one by one, ‘snapped’ back to earth and the anchoring smidgen of mass there. Ax arms the bomb and is yanked back to earth just before he would have been shot, and the bite of a mosquito revives Hewlett Aldershot III.

This is the only time we really see a large scale battle between the Yeerks and the Andalites, even if we just see fragments and flickers of it. I’ll cover that in detail soon, I’m working on putting together all the background information about the war, and the Andalite and Yeerk capabilities in space and on the ground. For now, they can rig quantum-shift explosives that can devastate an entire continent. We see worrying indicators (built on a likely false premise) that Visser Three has been to the Andalite Homeworld since taking Alloran as a host, and an Andalite traitor. These plot threads go nowhere, are never resolved, and Applegate later admits she forgot all about them. In this book, all the Animorphs but Tobias and Rachel acquire Leerans, giving them access to mind-reading powers that let them casually acquire priceless intelig- oh wait, just kidding. The Leeran morphs are never used or referenced again. Ax becomes somewhat closer to the other Animorphs after finding some of his own people wanting and having it hammered into his head again that allies are more useful than tools or pawns, which is how the Andalites normally treat aliens who are also fighting the Yeerks.

Two impossible, or highly improbable events seem to happen simultaneously in this book. First, when they morph the very small mosquitoes, their… being joins the bulk of their mass in Z-Space, something that isn’t supposed to happen, and the Andalites speak of having to rewrite the physics books. The second thing that happens is that a ship comes into close contact with the mass-bags in Z-Space, something Ax previously assured the Animorphs was theoretically possible, but far less likely than getting hit by lightning. Luckily, they weren’t disintegrated by the ship’s shields, but were caught in its gravity and dragged along through Z-Space by it. I hypothesize that the latter event, the ship catching the extruded mass, caused the former, the Animorphs getting in touch with that part of themselves, less the mass of a single mosquito. Certainly, this never happened when Ax or Jake morphed fleas, nor when the Animorphs were later shrunk, twice, and were able to morph creatures so small they existed on the same scale as single-celled life.

Book 19: the Departure


After one more, and killing a Hork-Bajir a moment after Jake gave the order to fall back, Cassie decides to quit being an Animorph. Immediately after, she tries to save a 5 year-old girl from a bear, falls into a river and is swept away. Now Cassie is lost in the woods, with a 5 year-old girl Controller who knows who and what she is, being stalked by a leopard that escaped the zoo. This book exists to show 2 things about Cassie, first that she is probably the most competent and clear-headed in a crisis of all the Animorphs, and secondly her morality. Despite the logic, the necessity, and plenty of opportunity, she chooses not to kill a girl to save herself, her friends, and the entire human race. She even takes the girl’s Yeerk into herself so the girl can be free.

The Yeerk, Aftran, eventually bonds with Cassie and they make a deal. Aftran will return to the pool and live out her days as a blind slug. In exchange, Cassie will live out her days as a humble caterpillar. Cassie does morph a caterpillar and remains for several days in that form. However her metamorphosis into a butterfly counts as “natural morphing” and resets her 2 hour clock.

There’s no advanced technology, or shocking revelations about the Yeerks in this book. Aftran will soon become the center of a growing ‘peacenik’ movement among the Yeerks that nonviolently objects to taking hosts by force. Naturally Visser Three has the peaceniks tortured and executed wherever he finds them. The “natural morphing” is the only real upset and to be honest, I had problems with that one when I was a kid, I was just a tiny bit more willing to shrug and move on.
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FaxModem1
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-03-26 03:01am 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2002-10-30 07:40pm
Posts: 4510
Location: In a dark reflection of a better world


Just thought I would leave this here.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-04 11:51pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Thanks, FaxModern that was... different. Then again, I could probably drive some poor shmuck insane by rambling on for a couple hours about a sci-fi series almost no one remembers.

Distances and FTL:

A few, a lot of the events in space and the wider galaxy, as well as much of the general capabilities of spacecraft on both sides, gets glossed over. What we do know is this. Andalite is exactly 82 light years from earth. The Hork-Bajir planet is in another unnamed galaxy, and barring a rift or reconfiguration of Z-Space, is 3 days flight from earth. Which galaxy could be important, the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, for instance, is considerably closer to Sol than the far end of the Milky Way, as is the Phoenix Galaxy. Still, I get 3,041,667 c, as a low-end figure.

During the events of the Andalite Chronicles, Elfangor’s ship is tagged with a homing beacon, which he says will give away their position to “every Yeerk in a million light-years.” He rendezvous with his mother ship a million light-years from Earth and a week after they parted company. But in the final pages he says there was a rift in Z-Space and Earth, once days away, would now take months to reach. If they can cross a million light-years inside a week, with Elfangor making a detour to the Taxxon home world, it should not take days to cross less than a hundred LY.

Finally, in book 26, the Animorphs visit a world more than 500 million LY from home. They are told that if nothing changes first, the Yeerks will make contact with the indigenous aliens in 300 years. Ax says before the Yeerks could spread a tenth that distance they would have had to conquer not just earth but Andalite as well. So the scope of the Yeerk-Andalite war is less than 50 million LY in diameter. Possibly a great deal less, possibly just a hair.

Scale of the War:

It’s hard to say what the ultimate capacity of the Yeerk of Andalite fleets are, because they are generally spread throughout space, exploring and harassing each other while running at least eight major campaigns simultaneously. Earth, with a single Pool Ship, single Blade Ship, and double-digit Bug Fighters is considered a sideshow, and when unaware of the presence of the Blade Ship, the Andalites believed a single Dome Ship could easily clear out the Yeerks. Leera, on the other hand, was considered a significant campaign, the Yeerks committed 2 Blade Ships, 4 Pool Ships, and ‘several hundred’ Bug Fighters. The Andalites had 2 Dome Ships, a couple of assault ships and a third the fighters.

When the Andalites became serious about ending the war in later books, they assembled a fleet of 30 Dome Ships. The Yeerks believed this fleet could curb stomp them anywhere but in their most fortified systems, it was a serious strategic threat, but not treated as an immediate threat to the Yeerk leadership.

When Ax first sees the Blade Ship, he calls it a Visser’s ship. If every Visser gets one (not guaranteed) and there aren’t any being used except as command ships for Vissers (also no guarentees) that would imply there are 42 Blade Ships in the Yeerk fleet.

Ground Combat:

The standard Andalite energy weapon is called a shredder. Despite the name, it isn’t really attached to anything horrible. There are 6 settings, the first 3 are various stun levels, depending on whether you want a target disabled for a minute, a half-hour, or multiple hours. At max power, a shredder can blast a two-foot hole through ten feet of ‘hull alloy’ one of the strongest materials known to Andalite science, and the thing they build ships out of. This means a hand shredder can hole anything less armored than a Dome ship. At least one setting can disintegrate an adult Andalite (mega joules!) Shredders are designed first and foremost as nonlethal weapons, with a philosophy that if you should need to kill, you should do it as quickly and painlessly as reasonably practical. Apparently shredders can be exhausted, because we see Andalite infantry going into battle with bandoliers of spare power-packs over their torsos.

The Yeerks didn’t like the shredders they captured from the Andalites at the start of hostilities, so they combined the technology with Ongachic particle-beam weapons and created the dracon beam. Dracon beams, at their maximum are no more powerful than shredders, yet they have 10 settings. Some of the extra options include ‘cause agony,’ ‘immolate’ and ‘partially disintegrate.’ Unlike shredders, dracon beams are designed to kill or incapacitate in a most painful manner. Even getting stunned hurts like a bitch, and that’s assuming they don’t keep you from running by disintegrating a leg.

The only major ground battle we see between Yeerks and Andalites again happens at Leera. The Yeerks used theatre-scale shields to secure their rear and flanks, good. But they primarily used Hork-Bajir as foot-slogging infantry with no vehicles apparent, and suicide-waves of Taxxons as a reserve. The Andalites, on the other hand, used hundreds of anti-grav ground skimmers, almost like the tenar of the Posleen War books. In fact, they even auto-target any object flying more than 3 feet off the ground (powered or not) as assumed artillery rounds. Even so, the skimmers mostly supported the gorund-based infantry, After the ground battle was lost, we briefly see an Andalite submarine, and the Quantum-Shift bombs used to destroy a continent. I presume these, like the Quantum Virus, are extreme measures and not normally a part of the Andalite tactical arsenal.

The obvious Andalite advantage, the morphing technology every Andalite is given and trained in, is conspicuous in its absence. Later Prince Galuit confesses that morphing technology is mainly used by intelligence operatives, and the rank and file don’t have many useful morphs, or much opportunity to acquire them.

Space, the Final Frontier:

Fortunately, some time ago Applegate supported some schematics of Yeerk and Andalite ships online, these were on the series official website back when everybody used dial-up.

Dome Ship:
Image


For scaling purposes, the Galaxy Tree’s Dome was estimated to be half a mile (0.8 km) in diameter. Crew of a thousand warriors, complement of at least 16 fighters. 2 Main Shredders, stated at various points to be capable of “blasting large chunks off a planet” “blasting a hole through a moon” and “incinerating a planetary atmosphere” with a single shot. The first two could be hyperbole, but the last is deadly serious. Shields capable of taking at least a few hits from their own main weapons, armored hull more than 10 feet thick, the least part of which can easily survive reentry.

Powerplant unknown. At one point in the Andalite Chronicles Elfangor claims it takes the power of a medium-sized star to move a ship through Z-Space. Andalites have expressed familiarity with the concepts of fusion and antimatter throughout the series, but never commented whether they use either one. Alternatively, the morphing process somehow draws energy from Z-Space to work, perhaps other Andalite technology utilizes this. Ax claims that nuclear fission is only used in toys, “to make little dolls talk and so on.”

The Dome Ship is the major, really the only capital ship we see the Andalites use. As per the usual sci-fi idiom, it acts as both a battleship and a carrier for fighters. Aside from the practicalities of Andalites being a race of claustrophobics (all Andalite ships have high ceilings, wide halls, and holograms of the sky) the Dome serves a symbolic purpose. The ship carries a chunk of the Andalite homeworld to remind every warrior what they fight for, and place it beneath an endless view of the stars to remind them how vast the universe is. Most of the time, the dome is not a huge liability, but when the ship needs to fight it separates the dome so it can be faster, more maneuverable, and have wider firing arcs.

The Blade Ship
Image

The Yeerk answer to the Dome Ship, mostly seen in the series as the command ship of Visser Three. The Blade Ship is a Dome Ship’s match in shields and firepower, and is significantly more maneuverable, at least while the Dome Ship still has a dome on. The Blade Ship carries at least 6 Bug fighters, and has a cloaking device that hides it from view and radar, though not from the advanced sensors of an Andalite ship. And yes, it can fire while cloaked.

Pool Ship

The Yeerk Mothership. Shaped vaguely like a very rounded beetle, with a flat ‘belly’ and a tall sloping ‘back’ plus 3 large legs that go up and back down like a spiders, and dozens of writhing translucent tentacles dangling beneath it. No schematics or drawings of this one, I’m afraid. Like the name implies, the Pool Ship mostly contains a very large Yeerk pool and kandrona, carrying enough Yeerks to get a planetary invasion well underway, at least 17,000 Yeerks are in such a ship at one point, and I doubt that was anywhere near its full capacity. In battle, the Pool Ship has a single forward mounted dracon beam powerful enough to threaten a Dome Ship or a Blade Ship, but compared to either of those, it’s a tub. It also serves as a carrier for a large (sadly unspecified) number of Bug Fighters, at least a dozen.

Other

Both parties employ a number of freighters, transports, even assault ships. Plus a few generic general purpose spacecraft. The Andalites apparently have a sizeable number of scientific and exploration ships they have mothballed as the war has come to dominate their lives. Most of these have at least a single energy weapon, and even a freighter can score a fighter-kill if the gunner is good or lucky. Yeerks have the trucking ship, which collects air and water under cloak, and is shaped like a manta ray.

Besides this, Alloran had a custom triple-length, extra engine fighter named Jahar. In the last book, it turns out that in the last months of the war both the Yeerks and Andalites created half-size pocket versions of their primary warships. These ships had equal firepower and shields, and greatly increased maneuverability, Z-Space speed, and sublight accel/deccel. These were the next generation warhips, finished only when the war was basically over. The prototype pocket Blade Ship, which the Animorphs steal and name the Rachel had room for only 2 shuttles or fighters. The littlest Dome Ship we see, which is named Intrepid carried at least 4 fighters.

Fighters:

Andalite Fighter
Image

Bug Fighter
Image

Fighters are a touch unusual in this universe. First off, unlike X-wings or Vipers, which are more-or-less like jet fighters that fly in space, Animorphs fighters are about 9 meters long, and as roomy inside as the shuttles in Star Trek. This is both because they are spacecraft, and because both fighter types are FTL capable and are equipped to spend weeks without seeing their mothership. This is frustrating because we can only hazard a guess whether the swarms of fighters at Leera came in the bellies of the capital ships or flew beside them the whole way. It also adds to their flexibility, since fighters can be used to shuttle people to and from orbit. You can also fit a dozen Hork-Bajir in the back of a Bug Fighter and airlift them anywhere you need to. The standard crew is one pilot, one gunner. Both Yeerk and Andalite use this arrangement.

In the 40 year Yeerk-Andalite War, the Andalites come up with at least 8 models of fighter, all using the same basic design, but with small upgrades here and there. We also see the Yeerks a few times experimenting and improving upon Bug Fighters, but the designs remain broadly competitive with each other. Andalite fighters have a single weapon over the main fuselage, like their own tail blades, Bug Fighters have 2 dracon beams, the long spear-like projections. Andalite fighters also have secondary shredders and bombs for attacking ground targets. Both ships can kill each other with a single hit.

There seems to be no limit on sublight speeds, besides how concerned the pilot is over relativistic effects. At Max Burn an Andalite fighter can accelerate from near-rest to 0.1 c (~67 million mph) in 3 seconds. In atmosphere, we see Bug Fighters burn and fly apart when pushing 3500 mph (5600 kph, or just about halfway between Mach 4 and 5) a few hundred feet above the ground. Then again, they aren’t really designed for atmosphere.
They also don’t really go for tactical FTL jumps. Apparently there’s a margin of error of about a million miles regarding where you come out when using Z-Space, enough to not be able to guarantee surprising the enemy before he surprises you.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-18 06:40pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
We do have a crude timeline of the Yeerk/Andalite war. Prince Seerow went to the Yeerks on their home world. There was a semi-sentient species, the Gedds, living in symbiosis with the Yeerks. A Gedd is something like a purple chimp, if it were half-blind, almost half deaf, had limbs all different lengths and clumsy 3-fingered hands. Gedds sort of suck, and are only about sentient on the level of chimps. But when a Yeerk infested a Gedd, they got eyes, mouths, hands, crude as they are, and with Yeerks doing the thinking, the Gedds got all the benefits of tools, weapons and language without needing to develop a lot of brain capacity. Seerow was enamored of the Yeerks, teaching them math, science, and art. But he didn’t notice the Yeerks’ envy of the Andalites, and was taken completely by surprise when a party of Gedds overpowered the guards and stole several ships, turning the Yeerks loose on the galaxy. This was in 1966.

The Andalites lost the missing Yeerks for a while before they resurfaced on Hork-Bajir two years later, so ’68. During this time, they conquered 2 races never properly seen in the series, the Ongachic and the Nahara. We never hear about the Nahara beyond one off-hand comment about being the first race conquered. The Ongachic were able to scatter some and become space nomads, like the Quarians from Me. Ax also claimed on watching Star Trek that Worf is ‘clearly an Ongachic female.’ Make of that what you will. They also created the Dracon Beam and established trade with the Skirt Na.

Some background on the Hork-Bajir home world will be necessary to understand what happens. A long time ago, this planet was home to a species called the Arn. The Arn were like small centauroid birds in appearance, though in practice they were more like squirrels, only able to glide with flaps of feathered skin. Well, they were threatened by a rogue asteroid, but hadn’t really invested in a space program. They managed to get a couple thousand into stasis on a moonbase before it hit, that was all. So the moon colony comes back to rebuild, but their home is all lifeless rock, except in a series of deep valleys around the equator, some of which go deep enough for lava, where some atmosphere is still hanging around. But even there, the atmosphere is fragile, barely breathable and easily disrupted. But the Arn are some of the galaxy’s greatest masters of biology and genetic engineering, so before you can say ‘Watson and Crick’ they’ve created a dozen species of tree to regulate the chemical balance of the atmosphere. Then since they weren’t willing to devote all their time to caring for the trees, they created a race of tree-shepherds called Hork-Bajir.

Because they were not interested in rivals for domination of the planet, or dealing with their first sentient creations at all, the Arn did their best to cap the Hork-Bajir’s intelligence and curiosity. However, about 1 in 10,000 Hork-Bajir is a ‘seer’ and randomly escapes the limiters. To further ensure their privacy, they built their cliff-cities in the deepest parts of the impact valleys and created a layer of deep mist to separate them, and they created dozens of species of monsters from a child’s nightmares to patrol the border between Hork-Bajir and Arn territory.

So when the Yeerks arrive they find a small Andalite research post, run by the disgraced Prince Seerow. They destroy the sight from orbit, but Seerow’s daughter, Aldrea, survives. She and the Hork-Bajir seer Dak Hamee flee into the night, meet the Arn, and form an armed resistance to the Yeerks, first using the Arn’s control over their monsters, then Hork-Bajir partisans. They manage to more-or-less hold off the Yeerks for 8 months until some rather lackluster Andalite reinforcements arrive. However, the Andalites didn’t take a warning from Seerow’s daughter very seriously, they sent a paltry half-dozen fighters, couple transports, a repair ship and 2,000 warriors to investigate while the main fleet chases a red herring the Yeerks left. The Andalites are able to hold out for another 6 months, taking 80% casualties before giving up on the Hork-Bajir.

The Arn modify their brains so if a Yeerk tried to infest them, both Arn and Yeerk would die from a massive hemorage. The Yeerks decide to use the Arn as slave labor for their mining operations, and as target practice when they become troublesome/sick/old/or too malnourished to do much work.

At this point the Andalite commander War-Prince Alloran (yes, the future host to Visser Three) made a bad call, and ordered the deployment of a Quantum Virus. What we hear on the Quantum Virus is somewhat inconsistent, and I know most of you are laughing at the need of sci-fi writers to put ‘quantum’ in everything. As far as I can tell it is a virus tailor-made to a particular species, which reproduces in the normal fashion and is only exceptional in 2 ways. 1, it can supposedly evade any possible immune response through time-space shenanigans, though some are immune. 2 sometime after initial infection, every individual virus in the body emits an energy field that disrupts the nuclear binding forces. Essentially, the victim is slowly disintegrated over the course of several minutes, hours, or weeks depending on which reference we use. Nasty stuff. The weird thing is, instead of using this awesome bio-weapon against his mortal enemies, Alloran designs a virus to destroy the Hork-Bajir. This is why there only a few million Hork-Bajir in the galaxy in the ‘present’ of the series. And that only after decades of the Yeerks trying to breed the Hork-Bajir as quickly as physically practical.

Apparently at some point the Yeerks actually sought redress for the crimes committed during the Hork-Bajir conflict, but the Andalite higher-ups very publicly dismissed it as enemy propaganda. Alloran was unofficially censured for his actions, but was never imprisoned, nor did he apparently lose rank or privileges. He apparently got a healthy dose of scorn from everyone who knew the truth, and a string of shit jobs, but it seems he overall got off remarkably easy.

At some point between the Hork-Bajir and Andalite Chronicles, the Yeerks occupied the Taxxon home world and made voluntary controllers out of most of them. A minority, no more than a couple thousand remain loyal to the Living Hive. As the war drags on, the Andalite government relaxes its strict rules about a family having 2 parents, 2 children. They say if the war goes on long enough, some families may have 4.

It is some time later, around the late 70s/early 80s that the Skirt Na abduct 2 human teenagers and steal the Time Matrix, the universes’ only known working time machine which was hidden on earth (under the pyramids no less.) A young Elfangor, his friend Arbron and the disgraced War- Prince Alloran are assigned to take the humans, Loren and Chapman, back to earth after the Dome Ship Star Sword stops one of the two fleeing Skirt Na ships. When they figure out what happened with the other ship, they divert from this highly important mission to try and steal the Time Matrix from the Taxxon homeworld.

That little adventure… doesn’t go well. Arbron gets trapped in a Taxxon morph and joins the secret Taxxon Resistance, Alloran becomes the first Andalite Controller and the existence of humanity is exposed to the Yeerks. At least Elfangor escapes with both human kids and the Time Matrix. Until Visser Three (who hasn’t actually been promoted to Visser Three yet, but it’s easier to just call him that) catches up with them and with three people trying to use the Time Matrix at once, it creates an abomination patchwork world in Z-Space, Yeerk Andalite and Earth blended with a healthy portion of the Twilight Zone.

After conquering Visser Three in the patchwork world and leaving him stranded on their ship falling into a black hole, Elfangor runs away with Loren to Earth. The first thing he does is bury the time Matrix in a remote spot in the woods, then he acquires several humans and assumes permanent human form taking the name Al Fangor (I guess Ima Alien was taken.) He gets through college with Loren there to instruct him in the finer details of human culture like wearing pants and not going nuts every time he tastes something sweet. He becomes a computer programmer, a friend to both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and apparently lives at least a decade on earth before meeting the Ellimist.

The Ellimist is displeased with Elfangor for breaking time. He says the Yeerks are in orbit now and that any hope of earth resisting them is dead now because Elfangor wasn’t where and when he was supposed to be. Eventually Elfangor agrees to be taken back in time, to 5 years after the mission to the Taxxon homeworld, and destroys Visser Three’s Blade Ship with a kamikaze attack. He then rejoins his people who embrace him as a Great Hero, and though Elfangor confesses everything that happened to his captain, it is decided that the truth would only confuse people and distract them from the fact of Elfangor’s heroism. After many years and battles he returns to earth on the Galaxy Tree, which is destroyed, he flies down to earth hoping to find the Time Matrix in what is now an abandoned construction site. He gives the morphing power to the kids, including Tobias who is actually Elfangor and Loren’s son from his time on earth. Shock, gasp.
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Ghanj Rho
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-19 10:38pm 

Redshirt


Joined: 2011-04-28 07:12pm
Posts: 8
In one of the Megamorph books, it's revealed that the Ellimist "stacked the deck". Marco (the son of Visser One's host body), Ax (Elfangor's brother), Tobias (Elfangor's time-shifted son) and Cassie (an "anomaly" who forces timeline changes to degrade) were all shuffled into the group.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-20 10:45pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Ghanj Rho wrote:
In one of the Megamorph books, it's revealed that the Ellimist "stacked the deck". Marco (the son of Visser One's host body), Ax (Elfangor's brother), Tobias (Elfangor's time-shifted son) and Cassie (an "anomaly" who forces timeline changes to degrade) were all shuffled into the group.


Yeah, the fourth. Be a while before I get there. Well, that is one way to explain how most of the Animorphs are personally connected to major players in the invasion (you missed Jake being brother to the host of Visser Three's No. 2 man) or that, as much as the series is about how unsuited the average suburban American teenager is metnally and emotionally to ripping someone's throat out with their teeth whether or not that were a tiger at the time, none of them falls apart the way you'd really expect. Plus, their idea of abusing their powers for personal gain is to eavesdrop on conversations the whole school will have heard about tomorrow anyway and got to outdoor concerts for free.

I'm not sure I buy the 'sub-temporally grounded' thing and Cassie making alterations to the timeline really difficult. How do you account for the 3rd Megamorphs then?
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Ghanj Rho
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-24 09:20am 

Redshirt


Joined: 2011-04-28 07:12pm
Posts: 8
The four that I listed were the only ones listed in the book itself. Personally, I think that was just the ones the Drode caught. While I personally would consider Chapman to the No.2 man on Earth, not Tom, there is no denying that Tom was a key member of the Yeerk hierarchy, especially for not having Visser/Sub-Visser rank. (I always assumed that there were 50 Vissers and 500 sub-vissers. But that's me.) So the full deck-stacking would be:

Jake; toss-up between Jake and Melissa Chapman, as they both had a similar connection to the Yeerks. Jake wins out due to natural leadership.
Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthil; Elfangor's brother.
Tobias; the son of Loren and Alan Fangor.
Marco; the son of Visser One's host body
Rachel; the least chosen amongst them, Rachel was either a) truly random or b)thrown in to provide a gung-ho type
Cassie: the anomaly.

I have two theories about Cassie in regards to Megamorphs 3.

Technology
The Time Matrix is a device of incomprehensible power, capable of traveling through time and space, and even capable of making new universes on command. For all that, it is still separate from the powers of the Ellimist or Crayak, which is what Cassie was meant to guard against.
Magnitude
As we saw in the Andalite Chronicles, the formation of the Animorphs was an event visible on the very fabric of reality. The simple answer? Cassie was maindeck'd to ensure that the timeline would always result in the creation of the Animorphs. Visser Four didn't affect that (yet), so his changes were okay'd.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-24 10:53pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Yes, Chapman sits at Visser Three's right hand, and Tom at his left. There are about 300 sub-Vissers and 42 Vissers. It is seriously impressive that of the original six, there wasn't a one who would break out in cowardice or simply abuse their powers for personal gain.

I think I like your former theory better, since Crayak and the Ellimist felt the need to declare a truce to fix the timeline. No real evidence either way though.
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Mr Bean
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-24 11:28pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-04 08:36am
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Been following this thread as way back in the day I got my hands on copy seven of the very first run of the first Animorphs book (Gift from my Aunt who is in the publishing business) signed to me by the author and sad to say, donated to a local library during one of my many moves years later on accident. Reason why I'm popping in now is to ask, how much of the series seems to be planned out and how much is the author inventing things as the series progresses? Re:The group setup

As of right now (never read beyond book five) where two time travelers decided to get together teenagers with attitude in order to set up a literal god machine as several outside context problems are playing a game with the universe. My question is why Elfangor goes along with Ellimist as if he's willing to provide a trip through time, why not go back even further and just shut down the whole Yeerk first contact situation? Did Elfangor only offer him a single one way ticket to that time period?

Also given his future knowledge you'd think he'd be a lot more gun-ho about prosecuting the war and shutting down Yeerk access to new hosts and allies.
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Ahriman238
 Post subject: Re: Analysis: Animorphs
PostPosted: 2012-04-25 03:11pm 

Sith Marauder


Joined: 2011-04-22 11:04pm
Posts: 4455
Location: Ocularis Terribus.
Mr Bean wrote:
Been following this thread as way back in the day I got my hands on copy seven of the very first run of the first Animorphs book (Gift from my Aunt who is in the publishing business) signed to me by the author and sad to say, donated to a local library during one of my many moves years later on accident. Reason why I'm popping in now is to ask, how much of the series seems to be planned out and how much is the author inventing things as the series progresses? Re:The group setup

As of right now (never read beyond book five) where two time travelers decided to get together teenagers with attitude in order to set up a literal god machine as several outside context problems are playing a game with the universe. My question is why Elfangor goes along with Ellimist as if he's willing to provide a trip through time, why not go back even further and just shut down the whole Yeerk first contact situation? Did Elfangor only offer him a single one way ticket to that time period?

Also given his future knowledge you'd think he'd be a lot more gun-ho about prosecuting the war and shutting down Yeerk access to new hosts and allies.


Never an easy question, eh? Large parts of the series do seem to have been carefully planned in advance, each character has their own arc, etc. But sometimes the stories are filler, important questions are raised and never answered, and Jake's character arc in particular doesn't seem to really go anywhere.

As for what Ghanj and i have been talking about, in MM3 a Yeerk finds the hidden Time Matrix and uses it to rewrite earth history to ease the Yeerk conquest. We end up in a bizarro world full of neo-nazis with far less scientific or technological knowledge, before the Animorphs are restored and offered the chance to follow the time-traveling Visser Four through history and stop the changes he wants to make.

The final Megamorphs book involves the Drode (I'll get to him shortly, basically an agent of Crayak) popping up after a rough mission to tempt Jake. One little word and history changes, the Animorphs never go through that construction site, never meet Elfangor and learn about the Yeerks. Of course, in the altered timeline Ax is still about, the secret invasion becomes overt pretty quickly and the whole thing sort of falls apart because of Cassie's being "sub-temporally grounded." The Drode shows up to claim no fair and accusing the Ellimist of interfering in the 'random' selection of the Animorphs. It was awfully late in the series and I read it mostly as a minor retcon to explain why these specific kids were all there at the right place and time.

As to why Elfangor didn't go back even sooner, that option was never really offered to him. The Ellimist shows up in his living room, tells him he broke time and that the Earth now has zero chance against the Yeerks, and offers him a chance to fix it. Elfangor agrees, and is plucked out of the 3 dimensional universe, turned back into an Andalite and deposited at the first major battle his prescence would have made a difference in, according to the Ellimist anyway. While outside normal time/space, Elfangor was able to percieve that a.) he had a son who b.) would somehow become involved with other kids, including Ax and c.) he would meet his son at least once in the future.

As for Elfangor fighting more vigorously afterwards? We don't really know a lot of the 20 years or so between that prequel and the main books, but 'Beat Elfangor' seems to have largely replaced Alloran as the Yeerk bogeyman. WHich is pretty impressive, since Alloran is still killing record numbers of Yeerks despite being a controller.
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