Aliens, AIs and BEMs
Although humans are the predominant sentient species in the galaxy,
Dumarest occasionally encounters non-human intelligence in his travels.
Machine intelligence that has survived the demise of its creators
is a recurring premise, although in some cases the qualifier of
"artificial" life almost ceases to have meaning. Another
recurring theme is that of the gestalt: composite organisms that are
very much more than the sum of their individual parts.
Notable examples include:
The Cyclan "Central Intelligence", a vast network of disembodied
minds of exceptional Cybers whose bodies were unsustainable,
which appears in most of the novels.
The ancient AI artifact that gives the planet Shrine its name,
and its almost incomprehensibly alien Guardians, in Book6,
The planetary entity Tormyle in Book 9,
The AI called Camolsaer, of ancient but apparently human origin, in Book 12,
The "treasure" of Balhadorha, a nebulous, possibly sentient,
possibly benevolent but definitely dangerous entity in Book 14,
Jack of Swords.
The Sungari, a planet-wide communal life-form on Zakym
consisting of the combined
minds of its staggering variety of members,
in Book 16
Haven of Darkness and
Prison of Night.
Hury, another AI with origins in human antiquity, in Book 18,
Incident on Ath.
The Tau, an alien AI capable of creating virtual reality indistinguishable
from actual reality, probably a plaything to its creators but potentially
deadly to humans, in Book 21,
The sentient energy fields of Ryzam in Book 30,
Symbol of Terra.
Likewise, much plant and animal life on the worlds where humans dwell is also of terrestrial origin,
albeit often mutated, genetically engineered, or highly evolved into a specific niche in the local
ecology, but there are a few memorable, apprently indigenous exceptions.
The "garden" on Folgone, symbiotic plants that give a thousand years
of subjective hallucinatory bliss to victims as they are digested, in book 2,
The aquatic leviathans in book 8,
The mythological Kheld in book 13,
Eye of the Zodiac.
Olcepts: large viscious predators in book 15,
Spectrum of a Forgotten Sun.
Sannaks: huge, armored worms that burrow through sand and
rock on the desert world Harge in book 20,
Web of Sand.
Pylars: foot-long, insectoid creatures on Fionnula that form a symbiotic
relationship with stranded starship crews and their
descendants in book 32,