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learning from the Krenken by GregStevens learning from the Krenken by GregStevens
My favorite science fiction discovery in 2010 was a book called Eifelheim, by Michael F. Flynn. Insect-like aliens (the "Krenken") crash land in Germany in the late 1300's, in a small town outside the Black Forest. An open-minded pastor and natural philosopher (who studied under Ockam) finds them, and a fantastically complex and convoluted clash of cultures ensues.

The book is written brilliantly, and once facet of this is the way it deals with language. medieval German is practically an alien language to us (the readers), especially as it was spoken in the culture of the time: every assumption, every belief, and every aspect of their day-to-day lives was immersed in God and religion. By contrast, the bug-like creatures from another planet are alien in their culture and habits and relations, but are technologically advanced (and so in some ways are more "relatable" to us today than the medieval Germans are).

The aliens have a computerized translation device -- a "box that speaks", according to the pastor -- that is trying to do its best to interpret medieval German and translate it, but the aliens can tell that it isn't always getting the translations quite right. The end result is instructive and hilarious.

My favorite snippit of dialogue:

    Krenken: "What is the essence that gives impetus to matter?"

    Pastor Dietrich: "Spirit. In Greek we say energia, which means that principle that works within or animates."

    Krenken: "Our philosophers know of a relationship between spirit and materials. We say that spirit equals material by the speed of light by the speed of light."

Fantastic stuff.

So here is a scene of Pastor Dietrich, sitting and earnestly trying to learn from his conversation with the aliens, through the flawed and imperfect translation machine.

Technical details:

This drawing is all graphite. The initial sketch was 4H with deeper shadows and detail lines added later using 2B and 6B. I used a couple of reference photos of grasshoppers and preying mantises, and a reference photo of priest sitting on a bench.

Overall, I am fairly satisfied with the piece. As usual, I became impatient with the background, so it is more impressionistic and abstract than the foreground elements.
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WhIppIng-b0y Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014  Hobbyist
I luv that bug thingy. It's so cute!
Undrave Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012
I'm in the middle of reading that book myself! Fantastic piece, I totally agree! I picked up randomly at a bookstore because the back made it interesting, not dissapointed at all.
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yay! I'm glad you are enjoying it. I absolutely loved it... I'm probably going to read it again, when I get the chance.
Undrave Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012
I'll certainly be recommending it to all my friends who enjoy sci-fi. I also got a friend who studies medieval history, he might get a kick out of it.
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Submitted on
January 18, 2011
Image Size
1.6 MB


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