Aug 09

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Beauty in the Universe

In Korvoros, Timothy Saugers is convinced that Risha Dyrrya is the prettiest girl he’s ever seen. That could be true; she is Hamoni and he’s only seen humans up until that point. In A Hierarchy of Gods, Lesley ponders several times about how pretty the Trarsani girls Nekalee and Ritee are, and Whithers is all but drooling down his shirt at the thought of them (believing them to be boys, of course). In The Humanity Experiment, Erik and Abner are stunned by the superhuman beauty of the Kyattoni girls Jaxidreshny and Triknikanthy. In truth, this is no mere matter of opinion nor fantasy on the part of the author; there are real biological principles that make it so.


Jaxidreshny and Triknikanthy

Working render of Kyattoni bond-sisters Jaxidreshny and Triknikanthy. For sisters to be bond-sisters, at least one of them has to be mate-bonded, and her mate having sex with the other one. If you don’t understand how this is a terribly beautiful thing, you don’t understand the Kyattoni. (I really ought to re-render this. The lighting sucks.)

Among humans, we recognize neoteny as a component of both beauty and sexual attractiveness. The really interested reader will check out David Brin’s oft-cited essay on neoteny and sexual selection, as it brings up a few points I mention below. Even those of us who don’t read papers on physical anthropology recognize the connection between youth and beauty, as we frequently putting the two into the same phrase. We know it on an intuitive basis. Cosmetics are a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. alone, and look at its features.  Foundation and powders to give the appearance of smooth, perfect (read: baby-like) skin; eyeliner and eye shadow to give the illusion of larger (read: baby-like) eyes. Check out Jaxidreshny and Triknikanthy. If those eyes look big, it’s because they really are, one of the features of neoteny more pronounced in them. Those big, brown, puppy-dog eyes are a deal-clincher. No makeup necessary.

Note, of course, that it is primarily women who use these youth-enhancing products, and this is more than just cultural. It is no biological accident that women are more neotenous than men, as the sexual attractiveness paper referenced above discusses. Barry Bogin [1] explains how the neoteny of infants provokes a loving, nurturing response. There is a tremendous volume of fascinating study in this area, particularly how it relates to primate evolution, but we don’t have time for it all here. Suffice it to say that there is firmly established connection between neotenous traits and physical attractiveness.

Therefore, we would naturally expect the more neotenous races, by virtue of which they are also more advanced, to appear quite attractive to us.


Standard Deviation of Beauty

A representation of beauty from homogenization, understanding that in the real world beauty is multidimensional. Consider the pink bar in the center as marking the most beautiful. Notice how a larger percentage of people fall into that range as homogenization reduces diversity in features.

The second is homogenization, which I talk about in my last post. However, in addition to making people look more uniform over millennia of intermingling, it also makes them prettier. Scientists have performed studies that have shown that the average a face is, in the mathematical sense of the word, the more attractive it is. If you take 1000 faces and morph them all together, you’ll come up with one that most people see as beautiful. This makes perfect biological sense, as the most attractive people have the greatest chance of propagating their genes, so people within any population would center at that point, with genetic variation causing deviations in various directions. When species have interbred worldwide for another 140,000 years, the standard deviation would be so narrow as to leave virtually everyone near the average, and therefore highly attractive.

Genetic Engineering

However, there is more to beauty than just mathematical averageness. Researchers have also identified certain “hyper-attractive” traits that are not the mathematical average. This brings us to the Kyattoni. It’s not an exaggeration to say they take sex twenty times as seriously as humans. They, among all the nodal races, have taken the initiative to identify those traits and artificially enhance them. Kyattoni females also have an innate ability to manipulate the emotions of others, as revealed fairly early in the series. Genetic engineers have enhanced this as well, along with other physical features associated with sexual attractiveness. If you want to latch onto Erik and Abner’s opinion that Kyattoni girls are the hottest in the universe, there is sound reason for scientists to agree with you. Let’s not get into what the Valshetti did with genetic engineering; they almost invented sex as we know it.


We’re all afraid of losing our attractiveness as we age. But not the advanced races. Their high-level neoteny gives them an edge here. On top of that, the Kyattoni engineered extended youthfulness, and all of them have medical technology that makes aging a matter of choice. Yeah, Dibrinikthy got old, but that was only so she wouldn’t blow her cover on Earth, and she’s planning on reversing that, anyway.


Are these alien girls pretty? Damned straight they are! Any healthy human heterosexual male will probably find a female of any of the nodal species except the Borshcha to be a wet dream. Biologists on Earth believe that human woman are more neotenous than men precisely for the youthful look that mean have evolved to find so attractive.  However, some of the more advanced are so neotenous that they look too young for most humans, and may only appeal to pedophiles, as the aforementioned Whithers. (I’m not kind to child molesters, by the way.)

The other way around is less certain. Human women have varying preferences for masculinization, which doesn’t exist as we know it among any of the advanced species. The high degree of neoteny extends to males as well, and none of them ever develops body or facial hair, deep voices, or those gushing fountains of testosterone. The neoteny of an advanced-race female is perfectly consistent with the neoteny attraction of human males, but the masculinization of human males does not appeal to the advanced-race females. This is precisely why the relationships between a human and a non-human always involve a human male..

Although we can make these general conclusions about beauty between species, we must remember that standards of beauty vary. I think Jaxidreshny and Triknikanthy are every bit as gorgeous as Erik and Abner do, but I’m the CGI guy for this universe, and that’s how I made them. Maybe you don’t. I can hope that I have some Kyattoni blood running in my veins.

[1] Barry Bogin (6 May 1999). Patterns of Human Growth. Cambridge University Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-521-56438-0.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.duanevore.com/beauty-in-the-universe/

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