Trope-a-Day: Our Elves Are Better

Our Elves Are Better: Well, of course they are.  I refer you to the comments under Can’t Argue With Elves, etc., in re impossibly beautiful sexy immortal billionaire genius demigods.

Probably closest (although not all that close) to the High Elves stereotype, although averting the whole Medieval Stasis thing quite dramatically with For Science! and its industrial consequences.  And while the super-sumptuous clothes and the delicate jewelry is about right, historically they preferred swords with a bit more heft to them than a rapier, and clockpunk auto- or pocket-crossbows.  (In the modern era, they prefer Very Large Guns, big stompy Powered Armor suits, and antimatter grenades, a weapon combination which one imagines would make actual elves blanch.)

And while Cultural Posturing is sometimes in play – although, as I point out, who isn’t it in play for? – they’re quite willing to admit members of other species, or more accurately other cultural groups, to the People As Awesome As Us club.  Once they get to know them, anyway.

To cover other things, played straight:

  • As per the High Elf stereotype, taller and slimmer than humanity.  Also lithe and nimble, but (an aversion here) not fragile in the sense of either Fragile Speedster or Squishy Wizard – among the things that come along with immortality are toughness and a pretty solid immune system, otherwise that immortality wouldn’t be worth the genome it was encoded on, now would it?
  • Pointy Ears, yes, if no larger than human ears.
  • Long lived (naturally possessed of what would be called the Lesser Immortality, i.e., never aging past a certain point, although being able to be killed).  No reincarnation, however, at least not until they got around to inventing it.  Are not quite immune to Who Wants to Live Forever?, but definitely don’t suffer from it until time periods measured in millennia have passed.  And yes, accompanied by relatively low birth rates.
  • While not no facial hair, limited facial hair; small beards and moustaches only.
  • Yes, very, very pretty; exactly an Inhumanly Beautiful Race.  Of course, they started out merely distinctively pretty.  The modern situation has to do with millennia of competitive genetic engineering to turn this up to eleven (hah, almost typed “up to elven”) and beyond, to the point at which they’re probably a walking danger zone to other hominids who haven’t grown up around them.  (Or else plunge straight into the Uncanny Valley… after all, mythologically, the sidhe were probably in this sort of territory, and yet if you were looking for adjectives to describe them, you’d reach for eldritch before you got to hot, right? Right.)

And averted:

  • Not terribly big on respecting nature in a Green Aesop sense.  (Although they would, in the general case, point out that they are nature, and therefore the things they do are also a part of nature, so therefore, for example, the mighty pile of concrete and stone that is the Merianreth Gorge Dam is every bit as natural as, say, a beaver dam – and every bit as beautiful, but then, understand that an eldrae would gaze appreciatively upon the beauty of a well-constructed oil refinery).  But science is good, and technology is good, and while nature is doing its best against entropy in a blind and undirected sense, now that there are minds in the universe, it can be improved, or rather clarified, into what it ought to be.  Gardens are beautiful, but they need gardeners.
  • In the Space Elves sense, while they do have access to both Organic Technology and some Crystal Spires without Togas, both are mere subsets of a much larger set of technology, in which they are not the absolute majority.
  • Not magical; there is no magic in this universe.  Such Psychic Powers as there are are exactly as magical as WiFi.
  • Hair colors other than those mentioned do exist, as does curly hair.  (In some rare cases, mostly kireldrae, aquatic clades, and the silvertouched, so do some of those unnatural hair colors.)
  • While they do make things that are designed to be beautiful, durable, delicious, and just plain better than anything else they might be competing with, the Creative Sterility is very definitely averted.  Remember, this is For Science! (and For The Arts!, for that matter).
  • Not all that much of a strong warrior tradition, as a species.  The sentinel darëssef (see: Fantastic Caste System) has one, but it’s hardly the biggest of the darëssef; any of the aesthants, the executors, the plutarchs, the technarchs and the hearthmistresses are more plentiful.

And yes, they certainly can claim to be above being above people.  Only inferior species need to put other species down to feel superior.

The degree to which I may have been influenced by Jürgen Hubert’s Elves: A Case Study of Transhumanism In Fantasy Worlds is actually not all that great – concepts predate, etc., as I’ve been working on this universe for a long time – but it’s still worth reading anyway.  See also the Real Life section of the trope’s comment on what we might do to ourselves if we acquired good human genetic engineering.

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