What are the Gw'oth? These aliens [singular: Gw'o] were introduced in the novel Fleet of Worlds; they went on to figure prominently across the Fleet of Worlds series. Most important among the Gw'oth are the very few individuals who together can form -- what I can't characterize further without spoilers -- into a special group called a Gw'otesht.
What do they look like? I'm happy you asked. Here's a descriptive passage from Destroyer of Worlds:
A Gw'o had five limbs arrayed about a central disc, sort of like a starfish. Spines covered the skin, again like a starfish. There the resemblance ended. A Gw'o's skin changed colors like a squid or octopus. Its appendages were flexible, like those of an octopus, and hollow like tubeworms. Tier after tier of sharp teeth ringed the inner surface of each tube. Eyes and other as-yet unidentified sensors peeked out from behind the teeth. Almost certainly Gw'oth had evolved from some type of symbiotic carnivorous worm colony. Yes, Gw'oth had become familiar, singly and in groups. Except--
Fascinated and repulsed, Sigmund examined a pile of writhing Gw'oth. The archival image was flat -- in the era of Explorer’s visits, the Gw'oth had yet to develop holography -- and for that Sigmund was grateful. Those piled, pulsing tubes, ends swallowing one another, the throbbing flesh, the occasional limb disconnecting and groping free of the twisting mass (to breathe?) came just a little too close to ... what? A spill of loose intestines? A nest of snakes having an orgy?Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. And what did I discover at the MFA but -- most extraordinary! -- the Dale Chihuly exhibition of blown-glass sculptures. Through the Looking Glass, the exhibition is called -- but Alice was not the fictional character who came to my mind.
So: you see me here with a Gw'otesht on a lunch break.
The Gw'oth are predators. Happily they settled for those purple worms instead of my arm :-)
(Chihuly calls this piece "Orange Hornet and Eelgrass Chandelier." I prefer"Gw'oth Behaving Badly." You may quote me.)
Harvard Museum of Natural History, deep in the evolution exhibit, I came across this coral cluster. If Gw'oth hung around in groups long enough to form collective fossils ...
(My apologies on the poor focus. The glass case confounded the sonar-based auto-focusing mechanism of my camera.)
It wasn't raining or unbearably hot for my entire Boston visit and I did get outdoors. This spectacular frigate, the USS Constitution, aka "Old Ironsides," is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. The Constitution was built in Boston, where it was launched in 1797. This warship, among the first built for the fledgling US Navy, famous for its exploits during the Barbary War and the War of 1812, has long been one of the city's premier tourist attractions.
Deservedly so ... great technology transcends obsolescence.