A Picture Worth 178 Words

Some of you may remember this scene at the very end of Starfish — the moment when the chrysalis splits open and Lenie Clarke Mk 2 emerges to wreak vengeance on the world:


A slender, translucent tentacle wraps softly around her wrist. It fades away into a distance utterly black to most, slate gray to Lenie Clarke. She brings it to her. Its swollen tip fires sticky threads at her fingers.

She brushes it aside, follows the tentacle back through the water. She encounters other tentacles on the way, feeble, attenuate things, barely twitching against the currents. They all lead back to something long, and thick, and shadowy. She circles in. A great column of writhing, wormlike stomachs, pulsing with faint bioluminescence.

Revolted, she smashes at it with one clenched fist. It reacts immediately, sheds squirming pieces of itself that flare and burn like fat fireflies. The central column goes instantly dark, pulling into itself. It pulses, descends in spurts, slinking away under cover of its own discarded flesh. Clarke ignores the sacrificial tidbits and pursues the main body. She hits it again. Again. The water fills with pulsing dismembered decoys. She ignores them all, keeps tearing at the central column. She doesn’t stop until there’s nothing left but swirling fragments.

What I was describing, rs and Ks, was a siphonophore. And if my prose wasn’t sufficiently evocative, I invite you to look over here, where the real thing squirms across YouTube for your edification. With thanks to Ken Tango for the link.

No dismemberment porn, though. If you want your ‘phores battered and broken, I’m still your go-to guy.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Saturday January 03 2009at 04:01 pm , filed under deep sea, rifters . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “A Picture Worth 178 Words”

  1. Awesome. I always envisioned that scene with a siphonoph-esque organism.

  2. Whoa. Thnx. That video. So alien, but so beautiful. It triggers such primitive reactions, like spiders – a weird combo of fear and wonder, sort of you wanna touch it, but you don’t wanna touch it?