FANDOM


Farm-Fresh balanceYMMVTransmit blueRadarWikEd fancyquotesQuotes • (Emoticon happyFunnyHeartHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3Awesome) • RefridgeratorFridgeGroupCharactersScript editFanfic RecsSkull0Nightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out iconShout OutMagnifierPlotGota iconoTear JerkerBug-silkHeadscratchersHelpTriviaWMGFilmRoll-smallRecapRainbowHo YayPhoto linkImage LinksNyan-Cat-OriginalMemesHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

The Humanx Commonwealth is the general name given to a series of novels and short stories written by Alan Dean Foster that is set in a common science fiction universe. The setting was introduced in Foster's first published novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, and has been the star franchise of his decades-long writing career. It has heavy roots in Space Opera as well as Speculative Fiction.

The Humanx Commonwealth is also the name of the major alliance of spacefaring species in the stories, the two principal members of which are humans and the insectoid Thranx. They are joined by a fantastically diverse cast of other species of varying levels of intelligence and technological progress. The spiritual counterpart of the Commonwealth is the United Church, an ecumenical council that embraces all religions under a single roof of universal tolerance. The major enemy of the Commonwealth is the AAnn, a xenophobic reptilian species that has its own empire and whose members constantly scheme against the humans and their allies (and each other).

There is a long Backstory involving Precursors, the Xunca, who held the entire galaxy under their dominion a billion years in the past, but fled in the face of a galaxy-devouring Great Evil. More recently (500,000 years or so), two powerful species called the Tar-Aiym and Hur'rikku fought a war that resulted in their mutual annihilation and the scouring of all higher life forms from a swath of star systems known as the Blight. Artifacts from these civilizations and others litter the worlds of the galaxy and provide a plentiful source of Lost Technology and MacGuffins.

The Humanx Commonwealth series is best known as the home of Phillip Lynx, aka Flinx, and his pet minidrag, Pip. Adopted at a young age, he manifested a talent for Empathy and promptly became embroiled in a number of unlikely schemes. Both the story and his powers expand over time to the point where he becomes the Chosen One who is fated to save the universe from the same Great Evil that the Xunca failed to deal with billions of years ago. And he hates it.

The series tends to sit very heavily on the ideal side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. In terms of hardness, it mainly falls under One Big Lie: FTL Travel is prevalent, as is FTL communication, although both are fairly expensive for the "average Joe". Distance is not ignored, but Space Is an Ocean is an inevitable consequence of the method of FTL travel, to the point where independent traders ply the spacelanes like merchantmen of the Age of Sail. Fantastic planets litter the galaxy, ripe for exploration but ready to entrap the unprepared. And there's always a Deus Ex Machina around the corner to save the day.


The major miniseries and story arcs are as follows:

  • Flinx and Pip: Chronologically, this series begins with For Love of Mother-Not, although that book was published much later and retconned Flinx's origin story to bring it into the main plot. From The Tar-Aiym Krang through The End of the Matter, the story is fairly lighthearted and episodic in nature, with Orphan Star starting Flinx's search for his parentage. Flinx in Flux brought Cerebus Syndrome by introducing both the Great Evil plot and Flinx's ongoing Love Interest. The next several books fill in the story of his quest for a Lost Superweapon to counter the Great Evil, as well as the resolution of the search for his parents. The Grand Finale is Flinx Transcendent.
  • Icerigger: A trilogy set on the ice world of Tran-Ky-Ky. Part of the Commonwealth series but otherwise unconnected to the ongoing plotline. Involves a Cool Ship (pun intended) made to traverse the ice world on, essentially, giant skates carved from the hull of a crashed shuttle.
  • Cachalot: A loosely connected series of novels set on the water world of Cachalot, where all the Cetacea [1] were transplanted from Earth to make amends for their near-extinction.
  • The Founding of the Commonwealth: A trilogy that details the Backstory elements discussed in The Tar-Aiym Krang, beginning with the first encounter between humans and Thranx, going through the Pitar war, and culminating with the The Plan that eventually led to Amalgamation.
  • Various other one-off novels, many of which tie directly or indirectly to the main storyline.
  • There exists a GURPS RPG adaptation, sadly out of print.

A timeline of the Commonwealth universe can be found here.

Tropes used in Humanx Commonwealth include:
  • Zero-Percent Approval Rating: The Meliorare Society gets this after their scheme to produce genetic supermen is exposed. Everyone hates them.
  • Absolute Xenophobe: the Pitar, who seemed friendly enough but turned out to be batshit crazy.
  • Abusing the Kardashev Scale For Fun and Profit: The Tar-Aiym and Hur'rikku are Class II several times over; the Xunca are Class III-IV.
  • Action Bomb: As Flinx gains more control over his powers, he sometimes tries to use his Superpower Meltdown offensively, with varying degrees of success, and occasionally forgetting about it completely when it's inconvenient to the plot.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Commonwealth has one of these a-la Star Trek, providing rules of conduct when dealing with races that haven't developed spaceflight on their own. Like all such rules, it exists mainly to be bent or broken by the protagonists. Sometimes coupled with placing a planet or species Under Edict so nobody stumbles upon them accidentally. In one particular case (the Ulru-Ujurrians), this was used not to protect the Innocent Aliens from Commonwealth society, but vice versa.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Played straight (and with) in several novels, such as Drowning World, For Love of Mother-Not, and Mid-Flinx.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The ecoterrorists who are the main antagonists of Flinx in Flux.
  • Another Dimension:
    • Space-plus and space-minus are technically this.
    • "Elsewhere", the source of the antimatter "white hole" created by the Hur'rikku anticollapsar weapon.
    • The Xunca packed up their entire galaxy-spanning civilization and moved to another dimension, possibly one that they manufactured, in order to escape the Great Evil.
    • The Great Evil itself is thought by the Xunca to have come from an alternate universe, and is eventually banished to another one by their superweapon.
  • Anti-Hero: Flinx (a Type I), who spent much of his early life as a thief and spends most of his adult life trying to avoid being The Hero of whatever situation he's in. Skua September (a Type II) plays this role in his various appearances, as does Malcolm Hammurabi in Bloodhype.
  • Apocalypse How: X-3 if the Great Evil gets to our galaxy, potentially X-4 if it is allowed to roam unchecked. X-2 in The End of the Matter, with the rogue collapsar sucking up star systems. Bloodhype merely gives us a Class 5 on any planet the Vom reaches.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Being a Space Opera series, it lives on this trope.
  • Arbitrarily-Large Bank Account: Flinx has one after Orphan Star, thanks to the Ulru-Ujurrians.
  • Artificial Gravity: Both used to create and applied as a side effect of the posigravity/KK drive.
  • Badass Bookworm: Bran Tse-Mallory and Truzenzuzex, military veterans and renowned scientists both, carry around enough firepower for an entire squad of peaceforcers and know how to use it. They also like making The Cavalry entrances.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Played with. There's no grand destiny of the Universe that anyone knows of, but it just so happens that Flinx is the "lucky accident" that the Xunca were hoping would evolve to become the trigger for their ancient weapon against the Great Evil. Once this is revealed, major forces dedicate themselves to the sole purpose of making sure Flinx fulfills this destiny, often over his strenuous objections.
  • Bee People: Inverted in the thranx, which used to have an ant-like social structure, but re-evolved the capacity for all females to breed in the course of becoming sentient.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: On an epic scale -- the Great Attractor was apparently constructed by the Xunca as a superweapon.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The thranx, though it is a subversion as they are humanity's closest ally in the setting. In the beginning each group had to overcome their mutual instinctive feelings of revulsion (and terrorist groups from both sides that utterly opposed the Amalgamation).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Start counting the number of times one or more characters get rescued in this manner. You'll be at it a while.
  • Big Guy: Skua September and Malcolm Hammurabi are both regarded as giants, and are happy to play the role. Bran Tse-Mallory is no shorty, either, but he pales by comparison with the other two.
  • Bond Creatures: Minidrags in general, and Pip in particular. Also, furcots in Midworld and Mid-Flinx.
  • A Boy and His X: Flinx and Pip, of course. Pip is a Alaspinian miniature dragon, also known as a minidrag or flying snake (although this is stated to be a visual rather than a taxonomic description), that spits a potent, corrosive neurotoxin, and acts as an amplifier for Flinx's empathic powers.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Caused by the tendency of the KK drive to invoke Space Is an Ocean. Interesting, while travel times between star systems are often measured in weeks or even months, the stories themselves more or less gloss this over.
  • Chosen One: Flinx, by virtue of his powers and unique origin, is the key to defeating the Great Evil... whether he likes it or not.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Abalamahalamatandra, who acts with a complete disregard for danger and speaks in a neverending flow of gibberish, creating the impression of a whimsically brain-damaged alien puppy.
  • Common Tongue: Symbospeech, a happy accident as it was developed to allow humans and thranx to share a language pronounceable by both species, and turned out to be at least functionally usable by most of the other species in the galaxy.
  • Cool Ship: The Icerigger, of the same series -- literally a giant raft on skates used to cross the frozen seas of Tran-ky-ky.
  • Cool Starship: Flinx's KK starship was engineered by the super genius Ulru-Ujurrians and has capabilities that Commonwealth scientists can only dream of.
  • Death World: A lot of planets are like this, but the Up to Eleven example is Midworld.
  • Deflector Shields: Standard equipment on most starships.
  • Designer Babies: This turns out to have been the methodology used by the Meliorare Society to create their "test subjects". Much to Flinx's distress, as he eventually finds out that his genome was synthesized in a lab from dozens of donors, so his hunt for his natural father was doomed from the start.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Pick a novel. It ends with one of these. One could call it Alan Dean Foster's trademark.
  • Dying Like Animals: The Order of Null, in Les Collaborateurs fashion, except that when you consider what they are rooting for, they become a sort of Junior Omnicidal Maniac Society.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Averted in that Earth is one of the two capitals of the Commonwealth (the other is the Thranx homeworld of Hivehom), but gets no more (and often less) plot time than any of dozens of other worlds.
  • Easy Amnesia: Happens to Flinx in Shifting Sands due to a Tap on the Head, leading to him being adopted into an AAnn nest.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Great Evil, of course. The Vom (from Bloodhype) also partakes of some aspects of this trope. Certainly it has the nigh infinite power curve, Mind Rape, inscrutability, and tendency to destroy all life wherever it's encountered parts down.
  • Emotion Bomb: Flinx's offensive use of his empathic abilities.
  • The Empath: Flinx's primary power is this. Unlike many examples, it is very useful when it works, and later he develops a projective version which is downright devastating when used improperly.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Krang. Flinx also qualifies in a sense.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens between the AAnn and Commonwealth twice, both in the face of overwhelming external threats. The first time is in Bloodhype when their respective fleets offer to team up against the Vom (which proves futile, but hey, it's the thought that counts). The second occurs in Flinx Transcendent, and is somewhat one-sided, as the AAnn Emperor agrees to call off all acts of aggression against the Commonwealth for one year in order to allow Flinx to pursue the resolution to the Great Evil crisis unhindered.
  • Epiphany Therapy: In Flinx Transcendent, Flinx conveniently gets over his Wangst in time to wrap up the series. On the other hand, Flinx's powers give him the ability to inflict a form of this on others... Mahnahmi may be the most extreme example.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The commander of the AAnn base on Repler may be studying a world-devouring Eldritch Abomination under the nose of the Commonwealth and lamenting the lack of humans to eat, but he's still disgusted by Bloodhype peddler Dominic Rose.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Midworld, Fluva
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Curious AAnn, meet the Vom. The Vom wants to eat everything in existence. Trying to control it won't turn out well for you.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The Meliorare Society's goal is to "improve" humanity through applied genetic engineering. Even after they are outlawed and hunted down, their last remnants continue to stick to their beliefs, making life quite difficult for Flinx as they try to recover their "subject".
  • Exposition Beam: Flinx has a unique way of telling people about the Great Evil -- he takes their minds there to experience it themselves.
  • Eye Scream: Pip's primary weapon is an extremely potent and caustic neurotoxin, which she instinctively aims at the eyes. If it enters the bloodstream, it kills in less then a minute, and it leaves horrible scars behind even on the survivors.
  • Fantastic Drug: Bloodhype, obviously, plus a handful of others that don't get as much page time. Another notable example is the emotion-inducing drugs in the short story Emoman.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humanity's (natural) fear of insects plays a major role in the Founding of the Commonwealth stories, plus the converse from the Thranx. By the main storyline, just about everyone has gotten over it. In fact, racism in general is pretty muted with the possible exception of the AAnn, who arguably deserve it.
    • Many of the stories involve Fantastic Racism between "primitive" tribes of aliens, which the more advanced Commonwealth representatives often try to settle.
    • Of the few individuals who have found out about Flinx's origins, many have directed open revulsion towards him, much as if he'd been a participant rather than a passive victim of the Meliorares' genetic crimes. Granted, those who've reacted this way are usually villains.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Via a device known as the KK, or posigravity drive, which "pulls" ships through space by generating an artificial gravity field in front (with a bit of No Conservation of Energy thrown in). Later in the series, more exotic forms are found to have been used by the Precursors.
  • The Federation: The Humanx Commonwealth itself.
  • Food Pills: Meal concentrates. Most characters express a preference for the real thing, however, or at least use equipment to make the concentrates more meal-like.
  • Forgot About His Powers: The times Flinx remembers to use his Superpower Meltdown offensively in the later novels seem to be based less on his competence and more on whether someone else is coming to save him.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The trope itself is averted in that lasers are treated fairly realistically, and are only one of a myriad of weapons used in spacial combat.
  • Gene Hunting: Flinx does a ton of this, starting with Orphan Star and (mercifully) concluding in Patrimony.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The Meliorare Society sought to manipulate the genes of unborn children to create supermen. What they got was... ugly, to say the least, leading to them and their victims being outlawed and hunted down. Flinx and Mahnahmi are the only two altered subjects known to have escaped.
  • Go Mad From the Revelation: Anyone who touches the Great Evil needs some pretty strong willpower to avoid having their brain fried.
  • Green Rocks: The powerful sacred stones from The Howling Stones appear to be this at first. When someone not familiar with how to use them tries the results can be very bad. They turn out to be Lost Technology.
  • Here There Be Dragons: The Blight.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Humans and Thranx tend to form these types of partnerships, especially after they've worked closely together. The most prominent example is Bran Tse-Mallory and Truzenzuzex. Of course, in these cases there's no question of biological compatibility, so any Ho Yay has to be limited to the imagination. Not that Kitten Kai-Sung didn't try...
  • Human Aliens: The Pitar, tragically so. Humanity goes nuts over the uncanny similiarities and rapidly moves to befriend them, only to have the Pitar turn out to be Absolute Xenophobes.
  • Humanity Is Superior: The idealistic version - plus, we had the help of the Thranx.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Flinx's resentment of the separation his powers cause from the rest of humanity drives him to quite a bit of Wangst in the later novels.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: Skua September puts in his first appearance wielding a Mark Twenty, a military grade laser that's designed to be tripod or vehicle mounted.
  • Innocent Aliens: The Ulru-Ujurrians start out this way, being exploited by the AAnn and Rudenuaman Enterprises for their little schemes. After Flinx gets in touch with them, however, they reveal that they are exponentially intelligent and rapidly develop a society and technology far beyond the Commonwealth's.
  • Instant Sedation: Used more than once, but most prominently in Bloodhype, when Kitten Kai-Sung, Mal, and Porsupah infiltrate the AAnn enclave on Repler using pistols that fire Tranquillizer Darts.
  • Instant Waking Skills: Flinx possesses this trait. He doesn't know if it comes from his abnormal genetic heritage or his early life as a petty thief on the streets of the planet Moth, but it comes in handy a few times. He also finds as he gets older that he needs only a few hours of sleep each day and can adjust his circadian rhythm more or less at will.
  • Interspecies Romance: Averted, as the series takes biological compatibility quite seriously. However, the concept is given quite a working over by Kitten Kai-Sung, who has apparently studied the art of interspecies sexual stimulation and deliberately uses this knowledge to Squick out her companions.
  • Interstellar Weapon: The Tar-Aiym weapons platform and the Xunca superweapon, in Flinx Transcendent, which can fire (if such a term is even applicable) across intergalactic distances.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Flinx's justification for leaving Clarity Held in the care of Bran Tse-Mallory and Truzenzuzex in Flinx's Folly, conveniently putting her on a bus until the grand finale.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: First line of The Tar-Aiym Krang -- "The Flinx was an ethical thief, in that he only stole from the rich."
  • Kick the Dog: Too many villainous moments to list (Conda Challis, anyone?), but Flinx gets his own Designated Hero moment in Reunion when he uses his projective empathy to infiltrate the Terran Shell.
  • Knight Templar: The Church agents from the Moral Operations branch who pursue Flinx and the Meliorares in For Love of Mother-Not wish to see the Meliorares destroyed and all their experimental subjects put down or "made normal", regardless of the cost in lives and/or the desires of said subjects.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The process of mindwipe surgically removes memories from the victim's brain, leaving them "cured" but a shell of their former selves. Said to be used in only the most Egregious of cases.
  • Last of His Kind: Peot, the Tar-Aiym Guardian. At one point it is suggested that Abalamahalamatandra is the last Hur'rikku, but this theory is quelled. He is the last something, though, even if it's just a Living MacGuffin.
  • Lensman Arms Race: Happened between the Tar-Aiym and Hur'rikku in the Backstory, to the point where the two races destroyed not only each other but wiped out all higher life forms from a large chunk of the galaxy. The efforts of the Xunca to counter the Great Evil fall into this category as well, when you consider that the grand finale in Flinx Transcendent involves using the equivalent of several million galaxies' worth of energy to rip a hole between universes to remove the Great Evil from existence.
  • Living Lie Detector: Both Flinx and Pip can detect lies by reading the emotional state of the person telling them. Pip does it instinctively, which can lead to some rather nasty consequences (read: she spits a corrosive venom).
  • Living Relic: Peot, the Tar-Aiym Guardian, from Bloodhype. Five hundred thousand years old and the Last of His Kind, after his task of defeating the Vom is concluded, he commits suicide.
  • Loads and Loads of Races
  • Locked Out of the Loop: As part of the retcons necessary to fit The Tar-Aiym Krang into continuity, it's explained in For Love of Mother-Not that Mother Mastiff decided to lie to Flinx about his origin in an attempt to protect him. This causes him to be rather unpleasantly surprised to learn the actual details in Orphan Star and later.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Flinx in a nutshell. Which one causes the other is a matter for debate, but he's not helping things by his constant indulgence in self-pity.
  • Long Runner: From 1972's The Tar-Aiym Krang to 2009's Flinx Transcendent.
  • Lost Colony: The humans of Midworld.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Hur'rikku anticollapsar weapon, not to mention the Krang. And the Tar-Aiym weapons platform that is made of Krangs. And the Xunca's superweapon...
  • Macguffin Alien: Abalamahalamatandra, from The End of the Matter. He's a Nigh Invulnerable, apparently whimsically insane alien whose purpose in existing is nothing more than to tell people where to find the Hur'rikku anticollapsar device... and to activate it.
  • Magnetic Hero: Flinx attracts people to him wherever he goes, which makes his desire to be a loner all the more ironic.
  • Meaningful Name: Abalamahalamatandra. His name, when run through the translation program that Bran Tse-Mallory and Truzenzuzex create for him, comes out as "key". Ab says this himself in one of his sing-song nonsense rhymes, but Flinx has no way to understand the significance at the time.
  • Mighty Whitey: Flinx tries playing this role to some primitive aliens in Running from the Deity, only to find out that they aren't so innocent after all. In fact, this never works whenever a character tries it.
  • Mind Control: The AAnn scheme to implant suicidal thought plays into the Janus Jewels mined from Ulru-Ujurr in Orphan Star.
  • Mind Rape: Both Flinx and Mahnahmi can use their projective empathy/telepathy offensively, and do, even to the point of killing people (by accident in Flinx's case). Also one of the powers of the Vom in Bloodhype.
  • Murder, Inc.: The Quarm are a feared guild of assassins whose creed, apart from ruthless efficiency, is that they never fail to kill a target. Flinx and his allies may be the sole claimants to have successfully defeated them.
  • Mysterious Parent: Flinx's search for his genetic mother and father doesn't turn out quite the way he expected.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The Vom. The Great Evil probably counts as well.
  • Neglectful Precursors: The Xunca, who fled the galaxy rather than face the Great Evil, leaving the countless sentient races who would arise in their wake to face the music. A very thin justification is given in Quofum, amounting to, "We built the weapon to kill it, but lost the key."
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Abalamahalamatandra, who is apparently immune to arrows, poisons, vaccuum, and massive electric shock. (The Quarm try to use explosives, but Flinx foils that attempt.) It's less surprising when it's revealed that he's a construct that's at least five hundred thousand years old.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Mostly played straight, in that many sentient species can survive on similar ratios of atmospheric gases and by consuming similar proteins, but given a nod or two in that the effects of certain specific substances - particularly intoxicants - can vary widely among species, and they need various trace minerals to prosper.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Averted. The use of a posigravity/KK drive too close to a planet causes devastating damage and is banned by all civilizations. One of the reasons Flinx's Cool Starship is special is that its Applied Phlebotinum allows it to avoid this issue.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Abalamahalamatandra, whose gibberish mumblings are revealed to be the whimsical alien's attempts to render hundreds of thousands of languages as phonetic symbospeech, all to communicate the location of a Lost Superweapon.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: If you merely count eating all life on a planet and moving on to the next, you get the Vom. If you count eating the galaxy, the Great Evil would fall into this category. If you count believing the galaxy is too corrupt to continue existing and therefore killing anyone who tries to stop the Great Evil, you get the Order of Null.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Although the United Church is established as the spiritual arm of the Commonwealth, exactly what they believe in is never really stated, and it's implied that, for most people, direct deity worship has been discarded in favor of a kind of universal spiritualism.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Flinx has a tendency to violently explode in a telekinetic storm when his powers are stressed. It's as bad for his surroundings as you might imagine.
  • Planet of Hats: Most obviously, the AAnn. Lots of other races get this treatment due to limited page time, but the Thranx are a notable exception.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Pip's caustic neurotoxin spittle.
  • Power Incontinence: Flinx's abilities are erratic, to say the least. One minute, he'll be receiving the emotions of every being on a planet, the next he's as ordinary as the next person. Naturally, his powers have a tendency to go out when he most needs them.
  • Precursors: The Xunca. Also the Tar-Aiym and Hur'rikku to a lesser extent. In fact, the planets of the Commonwealth universe are absolutely littered with the ruins of ancient civilizations.
  • Psychic Powers: Flinx's empathic powers are the focus of his storyline, but there are lots of naturally telepathic and empathic beings throughout the galaxy, such as the Tar-Aiym, the Ulru-Ujurrians, the natives of Longtunnel, the entire planet of Midworld, and more.
  • Put on a Bus: Clarity Held, Flinx's Love Interest, gets this twice. At the end of Flinx in Flux, Flinx more or less tells her to get lost and he'll come find her again when he's figured out what to do about the Great Evil. At the end of Flinx's Folly, just after their reunion, she nearly gets blown to pieces and Flinx leaves her in Bran and Tru's care.
  • Reality Warper: A side-effect of the Vom and Guardian's mental battle is a bunch of weird things happening in physical reality. Some rocks turn to precious gems, a nearby gas giant's orbit is altered, a crustacean has a massive intelligence boost (and is promptly eaten by a fish), and so on.
  • Really Gets Around: Kitten Kai-Sung, in Bloodhype, or at least that's the impression she likes to give.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Abalamahalamatandra is really five hundred thousand years old, give or take a few dozen millennia. The Xunca Mutable assigned to Horseye, which the Redowls encounter in Voyage to the City of the Dead in the form of one of the natives, is close to a billion years old.
  • The Reptilians: The AAnn
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The AAnn get this treatment because they are a Planet of Hats of narcissistic xenophobes. Later, in both Reunion and Sliding Scales, we get to see that not all of them are like that. Pip would be a subversion in that, while anyone who knows what she is reacts with alarm due to her highly lethal nature, she is completely docile when with Flinx and not threatened.
  • Retcon: Because both The Tar-Aiym Krang and Bloodhype were written before the major plot points of the ongoing series had been established, a lot of work had to be done to fit them in. For Love of Mother-Not establishes Flinx's canonical origin story at odds with some elements of Krang (the given explanation is that Mother Mastiff was lying to Flinx for his protection), and there are some glaring continuity gaps around Bloodhype (Pip's gender, Flinx's age, and the design of his starship). Foster acknowledged these and offered some explanations, but admitted that complete consistency was impossible.
  • Saintly Church: The United Church is portrayed as well-meaning and idealistic, almost saccharinely so. On the other hand, its operatives are well trained, and can go around very well-armed, when called for.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The one glaring example here is the scale of the interstellar merchant trade. There would have to be literally millions of ships running nonstop routes between every star system to deliver even a fraction of the goods required to sustain an economy the size of the Commonwealth's. On the other hand, The Tar-Aiym Krang does contain a passage explaining how difficult it is to patrol interstellar space; if you don't travel within sensor range of a monitored system, you can go anywhere you want.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: A rare example of the protagonist using this trope; after Orphan Star, Flinx is so rich (the Ujurrians rigged his account with effectively infinite wealth) that he can buy his way out of many situations. Of course, in later novels he's wanted by nearly every Commonwealth authority, so the value of his "inheritance" is a bit dubious.
    • Blatantly invoked by Jack-Jax Coerlis, the first villain of Mid-Flinx, at least until the real threat (the AAnn) show up.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Peot, the Tar-Aiym Guardian, in Bloodhype.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Vom, also in Bloodhype. Although in this case, it's a planet-sized can that is opened when an AAnn exploratory vessel lands there and decides to take the mysterious alien lifeform to an inhabited world for study. This doesn't turn out so well for them.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Truzenzuzex is occasionally afflicted with this malady. The rather more laconic Bran Tse-Mallory loves to rib him about it.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Pip all but breathes fire.
  • Shown Their Work: Alan Dean Foster loves using his Real Life excursions to exotic locations on Earth as inspiration for describing alien worlds.
  • Single Biome Planet: There are both aversions and straight uses of this, depending largely on how much time the story spends on a given world. Terra, Hivehom, and Moth get the most love; but then you have examples like Midworld and Longtunnel...
  • Slipping a Mickey: Happens to Flinx in Orphan Star, courtesy of an unscrupulous thranx hired by Conda Challis.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Flinx's last line in Flinx Transcendent -- "I'm bored."
  • Space Fighter: The Commonwealth has stingships, two-person attack ships each carrying a single SCCAM missile.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Most particularly in that the method of FTL used allows interplanetary travel measured in days or weeks. "KK drive" starships therefore cruise the void much like sailing vessels, complete with merchant traders and trading companies run by wealthy magnates.
  • Sssssnaketalk: The AAnn.
  • Standard Time Units
  • Starfish Aliens: Foster delights in presenting fantastically weird alien species in every new book he writes. The one notable aversion in the Backstory (the Pitar) come with a nasty little twist. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the planet Quofum, where mutation and evolution have been artificially sped up to absurd rates.
  • Street Urchin: Flinx starts out as a orphan who spends a lot of time on the streets as a petty thief under the auspices of his adoptive mother. In Trouble Magnet, he takes some urchins under his wing because they remind him of his past.
  • Subspace Ansible: The Deep Space Beams, which use "space minus", but are very expensive. Ordinary interstellar communications are carried on starships through space plus, or sent via messenger drone.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: Called "space minus" and "space plus", respectively, and occupying the traditional roles for each.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Xunca. Also, the Ulru-Ujurrians become this over the course of the novels. That is, they grow from illiterate hunter gatherers to near Reality Warper level in less than ten years.
  • Super Intelligence: The Ulru-Ujurrians are said to be capable of exponential learning, which is triggered by Flinx arriving on their world and offering to teach them the "game of civilization". In the months he spends there, they go from illiterate hunter-gatherers to building spacecraft. Over the next ten years, they learn to tunnel through space-time and are hinted to be Reality Warpers. Flinx and the Commonwealth are very lucky that they are true Innocent Aliens, lacking any malice or ambition.
  • Talking Through Technique: Phycode, employed by Kitten Kai-Sung in Bloodhype to send a hidden message to the Humanx authorities on Repler, consists of subtle body language adjustments and muscular twitches that are invisible to any unpracticed observer.
  • Techno Babble: There's plenty, although it's surprisingly muted for a Space Opera series and rarely detracts from the plot.
  • Technology Marches On: The early Flinx novels have him accessing information on microfiche.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Why Flinx doesn't trust Humanx authorities or reveal his abilities to anyone who's not extremely close to him.
  • Traveling Planet: Quofum, which is only occasionally found at its traditional spacetime coordinates. It's the Xunca homeworld, and they rigged it to dimension hop, which is admittedly more convenient than getting in a starship if you want to go somewhere quickly.
  • Ultimate Evil: The galaxy-eating horror that's approaching from across the universe. Although it's presented as the greatest threat to existence ever known, it doesn't do much aside from giving off "evil vibes" and is so far away that it only shows up in the most advanced of astronomical instruments (and Flinx's mental projections). And then, in Flinx Transcendent, Flinx triggers an ancient Xunca weapon that simply makes it go "foop".
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: The conclusion of The End of the Matter.
  • Unperson: The United Church puts information about people or places it doesn't want anyone to know about Under Edict. Public records are redacted, the few remaining official records are heavily guarded, and even star maps are altered to remove planetary coordinates. Automated warning systems are placed around Edicted planets with instructions to destroy intruders who don't have a Church override.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The climactic chapters of Flinx Transcendent read like an exercise in applied string theory. Where did the Xunca go again? How exactly does the Lost Superweapon work? Better hope you're up on your applied math or have a scientist friend handy.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Krang is one of these - it uses an entire planet as its power source and generates miniature black holes. Okay, let's just apply this trope to every single thing created by the Tar-Aiym, Hur'rikku, and Xunca.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Meliorares. Their professed goals were to "improve the species" through genetic manipulation. Even as they are being hunted down, they persist in the belief that just one successful "experiment" might yet justify their actions; hence, their pursuit of Flinx.
  • What Is Evil?: The Vom has this attitude. Peot and Flinx' answer: "You are. Now die."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Commonwealth puts Flinx on their wanted list in response to his actions in Reunion, which include using projective empathy to manipulate his way into the Terran Shell and then triggering a trap that nearly levels the entire complex. Also, Flinx gets rather thoroughly chewed out by Tru and Bran in Flinx Transcendent, after revealing that he spent the last four novels navel gazing rather than searching for the Tar-Aiym superweapon.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: A fairly brief one at the end of Flinx Transcendent.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Mahnahmi. Oh, how we weep for thee. Now stop trying to kill Flinx while he's saving the universe already!
  • The Worf Barrage: Despite being over a hundred times more powerful than the original Krang, the one and only time the Tar-Aiym weapons platform is fired is in the last novel and it proves completely ineffective against the Great Evil.
  • The Worf Effect: Pip suffers from this increasingly as the series goes on. Justified in the sense that anyone seriously threatening Flinx does their homework to learn how to neutralize her, but it still feels a bit cheap. On the other hand, by the end of the series, he doesn't need her protection nearly as much.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Pip started as a "he" by default, since there was no xenobiologist handy to inform Flinx otherwise. In The End of the Matter, the duo visit Alaspin, where Pip socializes with a male minidrag. A few months later, Flinx discovers to his surprise that Pip is a "she".

Notes

  1. whales
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.